If you google "conscious cooking" you will find quite a few links…blogs, cookbooks, private chefs. It seems to be a popular concept, although what it means widely varies. A common thread in all defintions of conscious cooking is awareness….awareness of your self, your choices and actions, and the impact they have. We have a couple of sessions in school on conscious cooking, our first of which we had on Friday. Our session was taught by Chef Rachel, a macrobiotic chef who works as a culinary instructor as well as a private chef. I was amazed and inspired by her. Have you ever met someone who just exudes a peaceful, calm, confident yet open energy? That is Rachel. It was amazing that in her class, our group was quiet, focused, calm and more open in our introductions than we have ever been. It was just contagious! I have chatted with her a few times over lunch the last few weeks as she prepared for teaching the other group of students at the school. As a private chef, she has worked preparing food for women at home with hospice. I could not imagine a more loving and nourishing way to get food during those last months of your life. What a gift to those families.
Rachel shared with us her thoughts on conscious cooking, focusing on energy - the energy of the chef, and the energy used to cook. It might all seem a little out there but I believe it. Here are few take home messages and things to think about:
There is an invisible energy from the cook that is absorbed or transferred into the food as it is prepared, and impacts those that eat it. The appearance, taste, balance, and presentation of food and how it makes you feel when you eat it, are all influenced by the mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual state of the cook. Have you ever met (or maybe you are) someone who really hates to cook? Or maybe they are resentful of having to do it, or claim they aren't good at it? Or you are completely ticked off at your husband/partner/job when you make dinner. The food just isn't good. In that state, recipes often don't "work." Perhaps it is true, all that negative energy gets poured into the food and impacts the results. Which of these chefs do you want cooking for you?
The same holds true for someone who puts love into their food. We had an old family friend who used to send my mom pies and cakes through the mail all the way from SC to little Alpine, Texas. Those pies, wrapped in foil and packed in a priority mail box, always arrived fresh, deliciious and just perfect. She could send an iced layer cake and the icing never even stuck to the wrapping! She told my mom she baked it, and then said a little prayer over it when she packed it. They were always made and sent with love and it showed!
Tips for putting positive energy into your food:
- Respect what you are doing and be pleased with it. This food is going to nourish you and your loved ones, allowing you to live a full life. Honor that!
- Be grateful that you have the oportunity to cook for the well-being of you and your loved ones. You have food, a kitchen….no small luxury to be taken for granted.
- Keep yourself and your kitchen clean and neat. Roll up your sleeves, tie back your hair, clean up as you go. Don't let the kitchen be filled with the chaos of dirty dishes, spills, and trash as you cook. Put things away after you use them.
- Prepare your mis en place….it keeps you organized and neat. Get out your equipment, ingredients, serving dishes before you start.
- Be simple. Have easy recipes in mind, allow plenty of time, and don't overload yourself.
This is just the beginning of conscious cooking but a really good place to start!
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