Maybe its because Mother’s Day is rapidly approaching or that a picture of my mom appeared in my Facebook memories page, or that we have been talking about mom memories as Pampered Chef consultants, or all of the above that has me thinking about my mom and the lessons she taught me in the kitchen. Even though my mom passed away in 2001, the memories live with me. There are days I can even smell the memories coming out of my oven, even thought it is not on.
My mother was an amazing baker, but necessarily the best cook. However, one thing she taught me was to skim off the scum from the top when making chicken broth. She would tell me the scum would rise to the top and I needed to skim it off. What needs to be removed will let you know it does not belong here. So I would always skim it off. She told me mixing it back in would give a bitter taste to the soup because I was not listening to the soup telling me what needed to be removed. This process continues to teach me to listen to how God speaks to me about who and what needs to be removed from my life. Read More
It has been a crazy week with grades from the Fall Semester due this week and personally I was screaming for vegan ice cream. However, when I could finally sit down to write I found that I was less interested in writing about any of our ice cream products or even our Indoor Outdoor Portable Grill. Rather my friends and I kept talking about our Infusion Water Bottle. So I is for Infusion Water Bottle
One of the things that I love about this bottle is that regardless of whether you are a person who likes to sip what they are drinking (like my wife) or chug (like me), this bottle works for everyone. The strainer, which comes with the bottle, allows you to position what you are infusing in ways that do not interfere with your drinking, whether you are a sipper or a chugger. If you are a sipper, the fruit or herbs you are infusing go below the strainer. If you are a chugger, then that which you are infusing goes above the strainer. The idea is that regardless of how you choose to drink your beverages, this water bottle works for you. Read More
Today is National Liver & Onions day. To be perfectly honest liver and onions is not my favorite dish. However, whenever I think about liver and onions, I think about Grandma Kamin, my mother’s mother. It was one of those things that she used to enjoy making.
When I was growing up she would invite my mother and I over for a girl’s afternoon and we would drive from Nutley to Jersey City to spend the afternoon with her. We would always start by baking something awesome like rugelach, bobka cake or some other delicious baked good. Then she would begin cooking lunch and all too often it was something she and my mom loved – liver and onions. Honestly, it wasn’t then and isn’t now one of my favorites.
I think my grandmother knew this because she would always have a side dish to go with it that was on my top ten list like pasta. Had she not been keeping kosher, I am sure it would have been macaroni and cheese, but since she did, it was pasta and sauce. She never once said anything to me about the liver and onions. I could eat it with the spaghetti or I could leave it, but I always found myself eating it because it seemed like it was a part of the tradition, besides which I loved my grandmother Read More
The other day I was listening to someone near and dear to my heart. I would say we were having a conversation, but really, they just needed me to sit and listen. Sometimes we all need that in our lives. After we hung up, I found myself sitting with sadness about how bitter and hardened their heart was. Somehow that led to me thinking about two vegetable potatoes, because when we bring them home from the store are hardened, and kale which can be bitter if not treated properly. Interestingly when transformed, they can become soft, tender, and nutritious.
Kale can be quite bitter, but massaging it with one’s hands causes it to break down the structure of the kale and causes it to wilt, change color and shrink. You can also add a little olive oil or salt to assist with the process if desired, however, in most cases, a little tender loving care will do. Isn’t that how our hearts can be as well. Sometimes we have allowed life to harden our heart and cause us to become bitter. I remember being part of a meditation group once where we were told to see ourselves opening our chests and taking our hearts out and examining its condition. Was it smooth and soft or were there hardened spots. In those places where our hearts had hardened, we were guided to gently massage our hearts, like the kale, until they had returned to their softened texture and we had transformed them. Then we gently placed our hearts back in our chest and secured them in place allowing ourselves to feel the release of all that which had hardened our hearts. Sometimes, we need to work with our hearts, like we do with kale and gently massage away that which has caused our hearts to harden. Read More
Hard to believe it has been almost a year since I have blogged here. For the last year, I have been praying about whether or not to continue with this blog. I had been praying for guidance about whether or not to restart. This past week, I was contacted out of the blue by a food site called Chew the World. They wrote a blog called The Definite Guide to Spaghetti Squash. While doing research on the topic they had run across a blog on Spaghetti Squash Spirituality I wrote over a year ago. We chose to help make each other’s work visible. Even though I was not included in their guide on how to cook it, to have my work recognized and shared by another food blogger inspired me to think about writing about the spiritual lessons from food again.
It was this connection with Chew the World that inspired my writing again this week. Their most recent blog was about How To Make A Topsy Turvy Cake The Easy Way. I am not sure if you have ever seen one of these cakes but they look amazing and like they are so difficult to make as if layer tilts at a different angle. The secret they point out is having the right equipment, Read More
This morning I was seeking inspiration and came across this blog about dogs who are not enthusiastic eaters. I had to laugh because the only time I had known a dog who did not eat with enthusiasm was when they were sick. However, as I read this piece I realized that a lot of her advice had to do with people as well personally and spiritually. So today, I am trying something a bit different and my responses to her are in italics.
Most dogs are eager eaters. You’d be hard-pressed to find a dog that actually knows how to chew.
However, there are some dogs who don’t eat well. Some are finicky about what foods they eat while others are just less than enthusiastic about the whole experience. There are temporary circumstances when your dog’s appetite may suffer and that includes vaccinations, illnesses, changes in the household, changes in his normal routine or travel. But these are usually short lived decreases in his appetite that will return to normal without much delay. Read More
I always love it when my friends call me and tell me they found someone who thinks the same way I do about food and cooking. Recently, this came about in a video someone shared with me about how to cut an onion. What Cynthia Lair, the speaker in this video, discussed was not so much about how to cut an onion, although she physically demonstrates that as well. What she talked about was the importance of being present when you are cooking. Given that this is our theme for this month, I knew I had to write about this. Read More
Sometimes it does not take much to make someone feel loved. However, in my mind everyone is worthy of experiencing the unconditional love of others. A friend of mine has avoided coming over for dinner several times. Her excuse has been that she is a picky eater. The truth is that she is on a restrictive diet to help her live without severe migraine headaches. The other day, I asked her to send me a list of all the things she cannot eat. I asked her if she would consider coming over for dinner if I made a meal that honored her dietary needs. Read More
Somebody recently asked me why I continue to write in this blog? How many different connections can one possibly make between food and spirituality? I just smiled and said the connections are endless. They challenged me to make a connection between food addictions and spirituality. As I have a few (olives, pot stickers, sashimi, anything spicy, and seafood), I found this interesting. Just about everyone I know has a food they crave. Recently I saw an article that talked about how fast foods activate similar parts of the brain as drugs. I can say, at least for me, that my addiction to my foods of choice is not about the food. It is about me. There are things about those foods in which I find comfort and a kind of satisfaction that I do not get from other foods, especially at certain times in the semester (grading frenzy), or around the holidays. When somebody offers me the opportunity to eat any one of the three things listed above, my mouth begins to salivate. Even writing about them, I find myself thinking about Guy Fieri when he talks about how the jets in his mouth are turning on while he watches one of the guests on his show cook one of their signature dishes. Read More
I have often talked about the importance of cooking with love. It is that secret ingredient which people seem to be able to taste in your cooking. However, I have found that love without humility seems to affect the outcome of the dish. One of my favorite stories about this is told by Mary Beth Crain. She tells the story of making a dish for her mother which she should not have been eating as it was not a diabetic friendly dish.
I feel, however, that I must issue a warning: cooking with love doesn’t always bring great results. Over the holidays I got an old American Home Magazine from 1937, in which I found, of all things, an ad for Royal Baking Powder featuring a recipe from none other than the mother of famed aviatrix Amelia Earhart. For some odd reason I was entranced by the tinted color photo of white-haired old Mother Earhart, looking maternal and saintly, presenting her beautiful platter of fried chicken, gravy and biscuits made with foolproof Royal Baking Powder. The promo read, “’Amelia’s Favorite Dish is My Fried Chicken and Biscuits!’ Says the Mother of the World’s Most Famous Woman Flyer.” Read More
My inspiration for patience actually came from thinking about how some foods require patience in making them. My wife, who does not cook, discovered once that it takes patience to make something as simple as a quesadilla. Until she had to make one for herself, she did not realize how I patiently waited for each side to be the perfect level of “doneness” for her. Quesadillas are not the only food that requires patience in its preparation. When I am making my own gravlax, I have to patiently wait for three days while it undergoes it’s transformation in the refrigerator.
Last week, I began thinking about some of the foods we grew up eating. Growing up in a Jewish household, many of the foods people get in Jewish delicatessens today are things I used to make at home with my mother. She would patiently sit with me and teach me how to make foods such as gefilte fish, kugels, kishka, kasha, halvah, rugelach, chicken soup with matzo balls, cabbage rolls, and so much more. However, there was one thing my mother never taught me how to make and I wish she had – pastrami. Instead, every few months we would take the subway to New York City and take a family trip to Katz’s delicatessen. There we would buy pounds of food to bring home. To fuel us up on the way home, my parents would always treat us to corned beef or pastrami sandwiches. Pastrami was always my favorite. Read More
I had originally planned to write my N blog about Nachos, but I will save them for S as I make them with Sweet Potatoes. That was my plan until the other day when I was decluttering one of my desk drawers and found a note that Zoe had left on my treadmill about 10 years ago. It was nothing fancy, just three little pieces of post it notepaper, which each contained one word I, Love, and You. I still remember how they made me feel.
It was the same feeling I used to have growing up when I would get little notes from my mom in my lunch bag. She would put these little love notes in my lunch bag so that I would know that I was loved. I have done that for those I love since then. It is always nice when someone takes the time to prepare you a meal, although sometimes we just take it for granted. However, I have found that when I put one of those little notes in with the lunch, it brings a wave of love into the life of the recipient. I try to do the same anytime I prepare a meal for someone when they are sick, or when I am giving a gift of food as a gift for a birthday or holiday. Sometimes we all need to read those words of love. Read More
The other day I was cooking preparing to make some pasta sauce and found myself out of oregano. When searching out a substitute, I was led to marjoram. In the process, I came to learn that they are of the same herbal family. Most everyday cooks have oregano or marjoram in their cabinets, not realizing they are quite similar and nutritious of any by themselves and have a long history of spiritual and medical benefits.
As I sat and looked at this bottle of marjoram, I began to think about how little we know about the history hidden within these spice bottles. How much of the history of herbs has been hidden from us, begging to be revealed to us. When we open the bottle to use them, it is not just an invitation to season our foods, but to open ourselves up to hearing the story and history of these herbs. Read More
As many of you know, we had to travel the last few days to attend a funeral. Doing so kept me out of the physical kitchen for a few days. So coming back last night, I had a new appreciation for my kitchen. At the same time, however, it made me think about what a kitchen is. By definition, a kitchen is “a room or area where food is prepared and cooked.” We tend to think about a kitchen as containing certain things like a sink, stove, and refrigerator. However, the other night I gathered with Zoe’s family in the sitting area of the hotel where we brought down leftovers from the home going celebration and reheated them in the microwave and shared them at what became our “kitchen table”. It reminded me that not every culture thinks about kitchens in the same way or has in the past. Read More
May 22nd is National Strawberry and Cream day. Many of the food
writers that I enjoy reading had written about how they were using strawberries.
I have always loved strawberries. When I was a little girl, I used to call them
heart berries because to me they were shaped like little hearts. We used to
grow them in our backyard and my mom would send me out to pick a basket of
love. When I began dating, I used to find it incredibly romantic when my
partner at the time would feed me strawberries. I have always had a passion for
my “heart berries” because they always reminded me of love. Being able to share
strawberries with someone special was about sharing my “heart” with them.
Little did I know my theology of strawberries had a history that “stemmed” back
to an early creation story from the Cherokee Indians called The Strawberry Legend.
So this week, I thought I would just share this legend with you. When you are
done, you may feel the need to feed strawberries to the ones you love.
Alex’s love affair with food began in the kitchen of her
childhood as did mine, but for completely different reasons. Alex tells the
story about sitting in her parent’s kitchen kneading bread while her mother
made this amazing cheese soufflé, which included an entire wheel of Camembert
cheese. Watching her mother prepare this was mesmerizing and when this gift
from the heavens was finally in the oven, she would sit in this chair like a
security guard protecting a fine piece of art in a museum. Eventually, this soufflé
would be unveiled and presented to the family and at some level, with the first
bite of this creation, something within her changed forever. Eating this soufflé
was a multisensory experience, like listening to a finely tuned quartet. Read More
It was about a week ago, that we hosted our largest open house thanksgiving potluck dinner. Over the course of the day, 24 people blessed us with their presence. To say that our table overflowed was the understatement. Three tables, thanks to a friend who bought folding tables as part of her contribution, overflowed with pastries and desserts of all kinds. We had an organic turkey, compliments of one of our clients, an extra turkey breast, a spiral sliced ham, two trays of macaroni and cheese (gluten free and regular), smashed potatoes, candied yams, sausage stuffing, Israeli salad, roasted vegetables of all kinds, cranberry sauce, salad, deviled eggs, spicy nuts, a basmati rice dressing, herbed corn, coconut milk eggnog, non-alcoholic wine, an assortment of sodas, and probably several other dishes that have faded from my memory. Read More
I have been reading this wonderful little book called Like a Yeti Catching Marmots: A Little Treasury of Tibetan Proverbs. Some of them have resonated with me more then others. However, there have been a few that have stopped and really made me think. One of them says this “One thinks of Dharma when the stomach is full; one thinks of stealing when the stomach is empty.”
In the most simplistic of terms, Dharma is understood by most as living by the natural universal laws whose observance enables humans to be contented and happy, and to save themselves from degradation and suffering. Read More
Earlier this week, I challenged people to think about what they were distributing into the Universe and the intent behind their actions. One of our readers from the UK, Antonia asked me if this was my segue to this week’s reflection here. While I had not thought about it at the time, it in some respects was, but for different reasons. She said it reminded her of a story in the New Testament about a young boy who gave Jesus a meager offering of fish and loaves and bread. Jesus took this gift and fed the masses. So often, we may not feel as if we may make a difference in the world, however, we never know how what we offer to the universe will change people’s lives.
It is all about the intent. Love and positive energy changes things. Sometimes just inviting people to the table to share a pizza and soda (not even homemade) makes people feel loved. Sometimes it is not what is on the table, but what is exchanged at the table. Read More