It has been years since we had a television and the only thing I miss is my cooking shows. Go figure. I especially love it when you can see someone grow, take a risk, push themselves, or step forward with integrity. One of the shows I enjoy watching on YouTube is Master Chef. While I prefer the other countries over the US version most episodes, I have been struck by two episodes of Master Chef US where the judges gave those who had the least successful dishes the opportunity to act from a place of integrity.
I can only begin to imagine the pressure contestants on cooking shows are under. To want to stay in a competition which will give you additional training and mentoring as you begin to move into a new career is important. To then voluntarily leave, knowing it is the right thing to do, takes courage, integrity, and honesty. I appreciated in the two episodes I saw this happen how the judges gave the home chefs the opportunity to leave on their own. As you watched the contestants you could see the struggle within them. You could see the battle between wanting to stay and grow and knowing your opponent deserved to be the one to stay more than you. Read more
One of the comments I hear from the judges on Chopped most often is that individually, the components on a dish taste good, but it was not a cohesive dish. The various ingredients did not come together a unified whole. I feel that way a lot. My wife, for example, likes simplistic meals, like a “fried” chicken breast, a baked potato, and a salad. She is thrilled, but for me that is not a cohesive dish because there is nothing that weaves it together.
When I was pastoring, it was important for the service to be cohesive. Everything from the artwork on the front of the bulletin, to the music, the scripture, and the sermon needed to weave together so that everything worked together and wove together in a seamless manner. Doing so required time to plan my way through the process. Read more
For those who were expecting me to say that this week’s blog was inspired by my addiction to Chopped, I have to partially disappoint you. It was not my original source of inspiration. It was actually inspired by the reflection and meditation I have been doing the last few weeks about being present. Last week, I talked about being present while cooking, not just being present with the process, but with the ingredients and taking the time to let them speak to me through all my senses.
Last night, as I was finishing my blog on The Gift of Presence for my Inspiritual Reflection I realized this was why gathering around the kitchen table to share a meal is so important. It is not just a time to eat together. It is a time to be present with each other Read more
As many of you know, the show Chopped on the Food Network never ceases to be a source of inspiration for this blog. Last night was no different, albeit for different reasons. The cheftestants were not those who work as restaurant chefs, private chefs, or even culinary instructors. They were those who worked in non-profit organizations preparing food for those we so often call “the least of thee.” One cooked for the Fresh Air Fund and others cooked for various homeless shelters. It was the story of one of the cheftestants who talked about going from being homeless to being able to cook at the shelter that moved me. It reminded me of a time in my own life when I had almost become homeless. His story also moved me because of how they served their clients in the homeless shelter. Their dining facility did not have line that people went through, but was set up like a restaurant with menus and a volunteer staff that served as wait staff. Read more
For those who have been following this blog for a while, you know that one of my favorite sources of inspiration is the Food Network show Chopped. This week was no exception. One of the spiritual messages that I have been receiving lately is about consistency. One of the primary reasons contestants are “chopped” is because there is inconsistency in plating and in preparation of the food. The inconsistency can be that the meats were cooked to differing degrees of doneness. Other times, the same amount of ingredients was not placed in the same way or in the same amount on the plates. Consistency is important. If you are going out to eat at a restaurant, it is important that all who order a dish, regardless of when they order it get the same dish. One of the things I have found personally challenging is when I order something and love it and then order it again a few weeks later and it is not the same dish. Inconsistency challenges one’s ability to trust they are going to have the same experience or that all who order it will experience the same dish. Read more
Anybody who has ever had a conversation with me about food knows that I am a Chopped junkie. In case you are thinking I need a 12-step group to help me overcome my addiction, I do not. I thoroughly enjoy watching this show for a number of reasons, some of which have nothing to do with food itself. One of the reasons is that so many of the chefs who are on the show have such amazing stories to tell about their lives that I find inspiring and remind me of the power of the human spirit and the transformative power to manifest our destiny, often times building them out of rubble. There have been episodes I have watched that the stories have moved me to tears as I have listened to how people have come through numerous bouts with cancer, loss of limbs, homeless, and addictions and as Maya Angelou once wrote, “And still I rise.” This show has also reminded me of the importance of being humble. I have always found it interesting how the humility one brings to the ingredients and the creation of the food somehow seems to translate into how the dish tastes. Simultaneously, I find myself rooting for those who seem to be the most humble and to be focused on honoring the ingredients. For me, ingredients are like people. There are those you enjoy being around more than others, but each is a gift from the Universe and should be treated with dignity and respect. Read more
The other night I was watching a rerun of an episode of Chopped where they had amateur home cooks competing on the show. In the first round, the contestants were given amongst other ingredients scallops in a shell. One of the contestants was unfamiliar with how to deal with scallops in a shell. To be honest, most of the time when I get scallops they have already been cleaned and shelled. So, had I not taken the time to learn about this I may not have even known that they come in shell, but they do. While they are not as difficult to open as other shelled mollusks, they do need to be opened and cleaned before preparation. Besides having the sand and grit washed off them, the various organs such as the liver, abductor muscle, and sex organs need to be removed. Then and only then they can be baked, broiled, fried, or prepared in some other way.
Scallops are one of those foods that are not only healthy to eat, but they are powerful spiritually. Eating scallops is like any information that life presents us. There are some things that need to be removed and some things which need to be washed off before we can even consider ingesting them and making them part of our internal belief system. Read more
As many of you know, most of my inspiration for this blog comes from my addiction (in a good way) to the show Chopped. This week is no exception as the episode I was listening to as I drifted to sleep (yes I fall asleep to reruns on the Food Network). What I woke up thinking about was how many times I have heard the judges discuss how hard it is to make rice on this show, never mind make the perfect risotto. I think it was Scott Conant I once heard talk about how many people have bad risottos. While it may be difficult to master, Bon Appetit magazine has identified as one of their favorite rice based dishes. They said the perfect “risotto is rich without being heavy, with al dente rice, a rainbow of seasonal vegetables, a shower of fresh herbs, all christened with a blanket of Parmesan.” They did agree with the Chopped judges “it’s not always done right. In fact, it’s actually pretty easy to screw up.” Read more
A few weeks
ago, I had mentioned writing about the lessons to be learned from lamb fries.
Last night, my friend Heather laughed when I said I might write about them this
week. So here you go Heather, my spiritual reflections on lamb fries, aka as
lamb testicles, and testicles in general. Hmm, spirituality and testicles. That
sounds strange just typing it, but hopefully by the time I am done this will
also referred to as testes, which is plural for the word testis. In Latin, the word
testis means “witness.” In ancient times, men placed one hand on a testicle
when taking an oath in court. Interestingly, there is no record of women having
to put one hand on their vagina when doing the same thing. While we still take an
oath in court, nobody is putting their hands on their genitals while doing so. Read more
To those who have been reading this blog for a while, it should be no surprise that one of the sources for my Inspiration is the Food Network show Chopped. This week my inspiration began with the story of one chef, Nathaniel Zimet of Boucherie, who shared with the judges how he had been shot three times about ten months prior and his journey to recovery. While his story of recovery was inspiring, what was humbling was to hear him speak with such compassion about the man who shot him. His understanding that the man who shot him had to have been in extreme pain in order to shoot him as he did was a powerful illustration of compassion. It reminded me of a YouTube video of the father of one of the young girls who had been murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School recently and his compassion for all those who were grieving and for the family and friends of the man who had killed all these people. Having just blogged about compassion the other day, his attitude and story resonated with my soul. Read more
By now, it should be no surprise to anyone that one of my favorite shows on television is Chopped. It used to be Iron Chef America, but it was replaced by Chopped for a number of reasons. One of the reasons I am addicted to this show is that I love the creativity of these chefs who are just everyday people like me who come with their stories about how food changed their lives, how it has crafted their souls, and how you can learn about them by how they honor or dishonor an ingredient. There have been so many shows, which have taught me profound lessons, not just about the ingredients but also about life itself.
Last night, October 23, 2012, was no exception. It was an interesting episode where the theme was head to tail. Read more
I remember, when I was still pastoring, asking my congregation a very simple question; when was the last time you had a conversation with a stone? Most of them, and I guess most of you reading this have never done that. My guess is that most of you are also wondering why I would even ask you such a question and what does this have to do with anything spiritual or food. It might not seem as much of a stretch if I asked you how many of you have ever had a conversation with a plant. It might seem even less of a stretch, if I asked how many of you talk to your pets. Those of us who have, or have had, animal members of our family know that there is an exchanging of information with our birds, cats, dogs, or whatever else is living in our home. It is not that they can speak to us, but somehow as we spend time with them and get to know them, we intuitively begin to understand each other through an exchange of energy. Over time, one’s ability to communicate with their pets enhances. We tend to pick up information all the time about what they are feeling and thinking. Read more
If you have read my blog, you know that I am a chopped fanatic. Just about every episode I learn something new and exciting about food. I also learn a spiritual lesson in the process. The last few weeks have been a challenge in our kitchen and in my own way, I feel as if I have been on the chemo-care version of Chopped. I have no been given a basket of mystery ingredients from which I have to create an appetizer, entrée, and desert. Rather, Zoë’s taste buds are on a temporary vacation. It started a few weeks ago when most things started tasting like cardboard, and then I discovered the amazing ability of salt to take things from cardboard to palatable. I though I had it all worked out and could figure out how to create things that would make her enjoy eating again and not want to send the food back to the kitchen because it tastes like cardboard. Read more
Ok, so I will admit I am a Chopped addict. I have been trying to figure out what it is about this show that for me is so addictive. Seriously, I could watch the show all day long. If there was ever a Chopped marathon, I would probably be there watching it and thinking about what I would make with the ingredients if it were me. Although I am mindful that what you see in a 1-hour episode is just a segment of what has really transpired, there are a few things that I find spiritually invigorating about this show. While some of the chefs appear to be a bit more egotistical then others, they all are clearly passionate about food. It is also clear they have practiced their skills until they have mastered this level of expertise and they are there to push themselves beyond their culinary boundaries. Each of these is a quality of creating a Zenful experience in the kitchen. Now mind you, while if you gave me a basket of mystery ingredients I have no doubt I could create something amazing to eat. However, at the same time, the pressure of the clock would keep me staying in that Zenful state Read more