Wednesday, April 21, 2010


I've decided to add my personal sketches to the cookbook. They will be simple pencil drawings, and I'm looking forward to working on them. Drawing is a great stress reliever, and is so much fun for me. I'm sure you know what I mean when I say that creativity feeds on itself. Cooking is a creative venture, and so is writing. Both fuel my drawing, and vice versa. Great stuff!

Saturday, April 10, 2010


My cooking class in March proved to be very interesting, and while I haven't written about it, there were quite a group of individuals who attended. Vegetarian/vegan cooking classes draw all kinds of people, mostly non-vegetarians - people looking to include more plant based meals into their diet. Well, in March, this proved to be the case. However, there were several that stand out in my mind.

Two women arrived with an aura of resistance around them. One a self proclaimed gourmet cook, and the other, a vegetarian looking to please her non-vegetarian husband and still remain a healthy vegetarian herself. Both came with the attitude of already knowing "everything" about vegetarian cooking, and I wondered why they were there.

Belief Systems

A New Belief

There was a woman who reminds me of a friend of mine. She talked with me after class. She shared some information I find intriguing. She told me that she is now a Buddhist. I know a bit about Buddhism, primariy with regard to death and dying, and non-violence. She shared that she is trying to learn to cook vegetarian meals now since Buddhists don't eat meat, and that she found herself in a situation where she was offered meat as a guest. (I don't know all the details to this story, but the general gist). I understood her to say that the Buddhist belief permits eating meat in this situation because it was offered and thus, considered a gift. When she said this, I remember crinkling my forehead and thinking to myself, "Huh?" I saw and heard hesitation in her voice. She clearly was having a hard time reconciling the new "need" to be a vegetarian with the permission to eat meat when it's interpreted as a gift.

Another Way

A close friend koshered her kitchen a few years back. When she told me that she brought all of her cookware to the temple for blessing and had to get rid of much that was in her kitchen, it didn't dawn on me that she could never eat out, or eat at my home again, unless I cooked kosher food or she brought her own food.

I visited her one afternoon, and when I went to put cream in my coffee, I checked out the ingredients in the creamer, and they were less than great. The creamer was kosher. The ingredients included artificial flavoring and hydrogenated oil, and I believe corn syrup as the sweetener. In any case, I passed on putting it in my coffee.

When we follow a spiritual path, are we meant to abandon common sense or stop listening to our own hearts and bodies? Do we eat something that is less than healthy for us because our spiritual path says it's okay?

My Own Way

My world is not black and white, but varying shades of gray. That is where I feel most comfortable, in between the rules and lines and structure. I am so grateful to my ancestors for their deep devotion and spirituality, and I have carved my own unique way of being. Food is an important consideration in any belief system, and yet deeply personal. For me, my heart and current knowledge will help me decide what to eat, no matter my spiritual beliefs or those of my ancestors.

Thursday, April 1, 2010


Well, I've finished adding food back into my diet after a food elimination. This is always an interesting process, and now life is returning to normal, at least for my husband. He "suffers" the most from the menu changes I implement in our kitchen. No major problems with any foods as I continue to avoid dairy, corn, and most gluten. I do this based on how my body feels. I feel best without these ingredients - that means, I have more energy, think more clearly, have less aches, and my mood is consistent regardless of what my hormones are doing.

Consciously listening to the messages of the body is a significant aspect of a meaningful and healthy life. This generally requires taking time to quiet the mind and body, and paying attention to the loud and many times subtle sensations of the body. These sensations are meant to get our attention.

My body goes through major shifts with a food elimination, and that means that my diet shifts and changes as well. I never know what I'll be eating after I'm finished. While my current vegetarian/vegan diet is starkly different from my ancestors, there are several important similarities that rise up and get my attention, almost daily: Organic, locally grown food (whenever possible) and a connection to nature; Time in the kitchen preparing whole food from scratch; Belief that food nourishes not just the body but the soul.

The last point is the most interesting to me, and is kind of a similarity. I would lead with "food nourishes the body and the soul" and my ancestors would lead with "food nourishes the soul and feeds the body".

In either case, the feeling derived from the food experience as a whole is the bottom line. How I wish I could cook with my great grandmother now - I use her mortar and pestle, and well, that makes my heart swell.