Tuesday, October 21, 2008

on cooking

hi guys-

i just left a meeting in which i found myself babbling on and on about the passion and joy of cooking. at some point, i regained my lucidity and realized that the person i was with was staring at me, eyes glazed over...i had lost her somewhere along in my reverie.

it occurred to me as it has millions of times over the years, that a lot of people don't share my passion for cooking. and it baffled me, as it has millions of times over the years.

i have cooked for most of my life, beginning as a young girl at my mother's side, absorbing every detail of what she did as she prepared meals for our family. i cooked my way through school, cooked to support my life as an artist, cooked for friends and family, cooked for the sheer joy of cooking. i love the entire process, from shopping to cleaning up. i always have and i pray i always will.

now i surely have days when i lack inspiration and when i can not, for the life of me, figure out what to make for dinner, but nine out of ten days, you will find me in my kitchen, happily slicing, dicing, sauteing and simmering my way to another meal that will bring a smile to my husband's face.

i cook for friends, family, students and strangers. i love what i do and am blessed to live the life that i do.

so how do you develop that love of cooking? is it genetic? is it like opera? you may learn to appreciate it, but you either love it or you don't? cooking is not rocket science; it's an art form. cooking allows us to free our passions and create. with fresh natural ingredients, cooking inspires us to our greater selves. our intuition is in high gear as we subtly coax every nuance of flavor from a dish.

cooking is the ultimate form of self-love. i am not sure what it says when people hate cooking. sure, it's work; it can be hot and sweaty and dirty...and sexy. the key to great cooking is simple...master some basic skills (like figuring out which knife to hold and where the stove is located) and then cook with ingredients that inspire you, that draw you in. walk through the produce section of your market and breathe in the life around you. choose the food that intrigues you; try new things.

then go into the kitchen; roll up your sleeves; get your hands dirty and your face a little sweaty. inhale the perfume of the dishes as they bubble on the stove. watch the food transform under your hand as you gently stir and saute.

and as you eat, allow the food to transform you. be the change you want to see in the world...begin in your kitchen.

see ya.'

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

on human health

hi guys-

i just finished a new book yesterday called 'natural body, natural mind' by bill tara. it just so happens that bill was one of my original teachers of macrobiotics and one of my mentors...to this day. within the macrobiotic community, there is no one i respect more and no one who makes more sense. not enslaved to dogma for the sake of dogma, bill has always been...for me...the voice of reason in a sometimes unreasonable lifestyle.

in this new book, bill boils down the theories of macrobiotics so that they apply to modern life in a way that is inspiring, creative, entertaining and nothing short of eye-opening. one read of this book and you will discover that you play more than a minor role in what ails you...or doesn't ail you.

i love the way i live my life, working each and every day to impart information that as bill says 'creates a new vision of human health.' we all struggle with living naturally and in harmony with nature in an increasingly un-natural world. simple, natural eating has to be at the foundation of all that we hope to build in life.

we see the effects of our excesses every day, but it has been brought sharply into focus for me with the current economic crisis. people are losing their homes, can't afford health care, are having their credit frozen. do we think that this just happened? that we are somehow victims? while scheming bankers and loan sharks (yes, some of these guys could be...) are responsible for damage, so are each and every one of us. we all contributed to creating a society that consumed 'stuff' faster than a dyson on turbo suck. we eat too much; drive cars that are too big; consume more energy, water and resources than we are entitled to by nature. we buy the newest games, shoes, bags, computers, phones, clothes...the planet is groaning under the weight of our excess. and somehow, in all this, we deluded ourselves into thinking that it could go on unchecked forever...that it wouldn't all blow up.

this economic trial can work for us or against us...we can make ourselves sick over what we can't buy anymore or we can turn this situation into a way to create a simple and satisfying life. we can return to the basics of eating, real food, not so much and mostly plants. we can make this a time that we turn to our neighbors and friends and reverse the trend of pollution and destruction on our planet. we can take this time to reconnect with our society and emerge stronger and more committed to balanced living.

as we all struggle with the uncertainty that we face, let's pull together and help each other through...with a hot meal and warm bed for someone less fortunate...with a ride to the store for a friend who may not be able to afford the gas. times like these can show us to be people of strength and character or it can bring out the worst we have to show.

look, we all love nice stuff...but nice stuff doesn't necessarily make for a nice life. good natural food, robust health, balance and loving relationships do...maybe they can become our new goals.

see you next time.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

on giving

hi guys-

i was wondering what to blog about today when i was sent this glorious poem by kahil gibran...enjoy...and live by these words...your world and the world around you will be the better for it.

On Giving
You give but little when you give of your possessions.
It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.
For what are your possessions but things you keep and guard for fear you may need them tomorrow?
And tomorrow, what shall tomorrow bring to the overprudent dog burying bones in the trackless sand as he follows the pilgrims to the holy city?
And what is fear of need but need itself? Is not dread of thirst when your well is full, the thirst that is unquenchable?
There are those who give little of the much which they have--and they give it for recognition and their hidden desire makes their gifts unwholesome.
And there are those who have little and give it all.
These are the believers in life and the bounty of life, and their coffer is never empty.
There are those who give with joy, and that joy is their reward.
And there are those who give with pain, and that pain is their baptism.
And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue; They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space.
Through the hands of such as these God speaks, and from behind their eyes He smiles upon the earth.
It is well to give when asked, but it is better to give unasked, through understanding; And to the open-handed the search for one who shall receive is joy greater than giving.
And is there aught you would withhold? All you have shall some day be given;
Therefore give now, that the season of giving may be yours and not your inheritors'.
You often say, "I would give, but only to the deserving."
The trees in your orchard say not so, nor the flocks in your pasture. They give that they may live, for to withhold is to perish.
Surely he who is worthy to receive his days and his nights, is worthy of all else from you.
And he who has deserved to drink from the ocean of life deserves to fill his cup from your little stream.
And what desert greater shall there be, than that which lies in the courage and the confidence, nay the charity, of receiving?
And who are you that men should rend their bosom and unveil their pride, that you may see their worth naked and their pride unabashed?
See first that you yourself deserve to be a giver, and an instrument of giving. For in truth it is life that gives unto life while you, who deem yourself a giver, are but a witness.
And you receivers... and you are all receivers... assume no weight of gratitude, lest you lay a yoke upon yourself and upon him who gives.
Rather rise together with the giver on his gifts as on wings; For to be overmindful of your debt, is to doubt his generosity who has the freehearted earth for mother, and God for father.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

italian feasting

hi guys-

a few months ago, i was teaching on a costa cruise ship and battling seasickness when a lovely woman approached me after a cooking class and introduced herself as chef mario batali's sister. she handed me a sheaf of papers and told me that i had been invited to be the guest chef at an italian festival in seattle. my first thought was to say yes because it was on solid ground and i would not be at the mercy of the waves of the ocean. i thanked her and told her i would check my schedule.

once home, i came across the papers and headed on over to the website of the festa and checked it out. after reading about this celebration of all things italian, i could not wait to say yes, yes, yes...or si, si, si, as my italian friend, elisabetta says.

well, many months later, i have just returned from working as the guest chef at this festa. i can honestly say that i have never had so much fun at an event in my life. not only well-run, this festa brought together the best of 'la dolce vita' and made it accessible to everyone interested in the experience of italian living.

as i worked at this event, amid thousands of italian people (and some non-italians, too...), i learned so much about my ancestry. i discovered why we behave the way we do, where our passion comes from, where our love of food comes from, why italians are as committed to great food as they are...why italian food is so delicious...why italians are so colorful and do what we do...and why people are so enchanted with italian food, wine and life.

i have always loved italian food for its simplicity...its commitment to natural, fresh ingredients and most important, the commitment italians have to eating together...i love being in italy and experiencing that commitment to the table.

this festa confirmed my belief that a truly good life begins in the kitchen and culminates at the table, where we learn everything from social skills to justice to grace. it's time for each of us to begin to honor that moment in our days...to go back into the kitchen, create delicious, simple food from natural, seasonal, fresh ingredients and dine with those we love around our tables.

so whether you are italian, wish you were or have nothing to do with italian living, get your butt in the kitchen and make dinner...or lunch...or whatever and sit and enjoy your own little slice of 'la dolce vita.