“365 Days of Mindfulness” [Day 9] Mindful Cooking and Eating…

EggsBasil2013-11-04 12

One of the biggest challenges when you live alone is preparing meals for one, especially when you were part of a family of five, with husband and three children for most of your adult life. After my marriage ended I literally didn’t know how to cook or what to eat. I made big pots of things like there were still five people going to sit at the dinner table and then I just kind of gawked at it wondering what in the world I was going to DO with all of it. And then you eat it until you get sick of it, and finally you throw the rest out.

The next thing that happens is that you can end up eating all of your meals in front of the tv or the computer and you don’t even remember what you ate. And it’s easy to get  quick  fix meals that aren’t fresh or healthy just because its’s easy, and for a lot of years it needed to be cheap!

Finally I got to the place where I just didn’t cook at all, what I ate went in the microwave, but finally the day came when I craved real food. But still there was just me, and a budget, and wanting to make things simple and healthy. And one of my favorite things to do is to cook with fresh herbs from my garden. My whole large deck just outside my studio door is full of pots everywhere with all kinds of herbs. Some can winter over outside but I am about to have some inexpensive grow-lights put in the studio so I can bring the tender ones in. Basil, and others, will grow all winter with good light.

So today I made one of my favorite dishes of all. And moving through the preparation mindfully is pure pleasure. Scrambled eggs with basil, and the eggs are French cooked scrambled eggs which are very soft and creamy.

I get the pan heating and put a bit of butter in, and as it is warming up I go out with the scissors and cut off a few sprigs of basil. Mmmm, it smells so good.

I turn the heat down and pick the skillet up and roll the butter around as it melts, kind of breathing with it for a moment and moving in a circular fashion (think slow hula hooping without the hula hoop!) kind of laughing with the rolling of the of the butter across the pan. (By this point the pugs are rolling their eyes. I can just hear them thinking, “Lordy, there she goes again!”)

I love washing the basil because it smells so good, and I pick the leaves off the stems and toss them in the skillet and sautée them in the butter. Heavens, the whole kitchen smells divine.

French cooked scrambled eggs are so good and I’d never heard of them until one day a few years back watching Jacques Pepin and Julia Child doing their cooking show together — oh I do miss Julia, and they were great together — and they were making simple egg dishes and talked about cooking eggs the way the French do. It has become a favorite of mine and is a very meditative thing to do because it’s a much slower process.

So getting back to the basil I sautée it and the butter and the basil just sort of melt into one another and then the eggs go in. I whisk the eggs and put a splash of organic milk in which is just my preference, and a dash of salt and pepper, and pour it into the skillet. Then the process really begins.

The eggs must be cooked very slowly, heat turned down, and the spatula keeps moving, gently stirring them around. You want them to be very soft and creamy and not to cook and become dry in any spot so I just stand there gently stirring and there is a sense of being all of a piece. The pan, the butter, the basil, the eggs, the milk, the salt. the pepper, the spatula, my hand, up my arm, my shoulder, my neck, all the way up to the top of my head. There is an energy that moves back down the other direction and up and down and the eggs go round and round and finally they are finished. I lift them gently onto the plate and they are just so pretty.

These eggs are wonderful for breakfast or lunch, with coffee or tea, and really lovely to have of an evening with a nice glass of chilled white wine. It is such a simple meal, easy to make, doesn’t take long, not complicated with a lot of ingredients or a big clean up but such a lovely meal.

The friend that taught me about using the basil was visiting once years ago and she cooked breakfast and oh it was divine. In addition to the basil she grated some smoked gouda into the eggs just at the end allowing just a brief few moments to let it start to melt before dishing them up. I had never really cared for smoked gouda but just a little grated in with the basil and the eggs was really good. And you can add all different kinds of cheese. I don’t eat a lot of cheese these days and think it is just lovely with the basil and the eggs, and the basil adds a lovely bit of green that makes the eggs special.

You can use other herbs and the cheeses if you like. Sometimes I grill gluten free bread with olive oil and then just a bit of butter on it and wow is that good! Grilled toast is so much better than in the toaster!

On the weekends I have begun cooking something in the crock pot so that I have good meals during the week. I work long hours, get a late start in the day and then work pretty late at night and it’s easy to get caught up at the last minute and then be floundering about not knowing what to eat. I am now making some type of soup or stew in the crockpot usually on Saturday and I love clearing off the counter and filling it with all manner of vegetables to clean and chop. A good olive oil, slicing and chopping a sweet onion, then fresh garlic, carrots — you get into a rhythm — washing and cutting the bottom off of brussel sprouts and putting them in. Brussel sprouts are wonderful cooked in a stew slowly in the crockpot because they become very soft and flavorful. I use lots of fresh herbs and spices and the whole cottage smells wonderful all day while it’s cooking. Potatoes, turnips, and later mushrooms — they don’t need to cook so long because they are soft — and I keep adding for a couple of hours this and that. Sitting down to eat a meal when you have slowly and thoughtfully prepared the vegetables makes it a very special meal indeed, and when I have a friend join me for dinner on a Saturday night that is doubly nice.

It’s amazing how just taking the time to cook and eat real food, fresh foods, homecooked and sometimes old fashioned meals makes you feel so good, not just eating something good but there is a feeling in the home when you have mindfully prepared a meal, and when it feeds you through the week there is a special satisfaction.

I am trying to eat mainly gluten free so I came up with a simple dessert that is so good. My daughter Rachel who comes over on Monday nights (Tonight we started watching Downton Abbey! Fun!) loved this when I made it for us last week and she took some home and my 9 year old grandson loved it too.

I take a bag of apples, and use most of them. Wash them, cut them in quarters, and then cut out the core. I like big pieces. Fill a big crock or casserole that you can cover. I have the big blocks of butter and I put a few slices over the apples on top, and then — and this is interesting — normally I would use cinnamon, but recently I went to make it, and the apples were all cut up and the butter was in and there was no cinnamon. I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t know what to do, and then I looked up and spotted the powdered ginger. I thought, well, gee, I’ll give it a go, and sprinkled the ginger in fairly liberally. It was fabulous! I have found that it needs something else to sweeten it a little. I use truvia, the stevia that looks like sugar and it is really potent so you don’t need a lot. Then cover and cook. It takes about 20 minutes in the microwave or you can bake it in the oven. The butter melts together with the apples and the spices and gracious it smells good. I serve it when warm with a big dollop of Greek yogurt on top. I swear you don’t miss the crust and Rachel said last week it was so good it was like apple pie and ice cream! Even better!

What I love is that this is good as a dessert and also good for breakfast, especially with the yogurt. Or if you make oatmeal you can warm some of the apples to put on top. So easy.

So I have found that taking time to cook, really being awake and aware every step along the way, even with the simplest of meals, that mindful engagement, really makes the meal special, and now I’m hooked on cooking again. Real food, for one, or for family and friends. It’s becoming an adventure, making meals, paying attention, and remembering what I ate later instead of trying to remember if I ate at all!

I would love to hear from you about good simple recipes that you enjoy. Do leave them in the comments after this post if you’d like. And as Julia would say… Bon Appétit!

If you enjoy this blog a donation would be deeply appreciated to help me continue to bring “Maitri’s Heart” to you. Thank you, and many deep blessings to one and all…

Comments

  1. I love to read your posts and as I love food and love to cook this one could not be better. My favourite is Delia Smith’s French Onion Soup delicious:

    http://www.deliaonline.com/recipes/galleries/autumn-vegetables/french-onion-soup.html

    Delia is one of the UK’s iconic cooks, I have all her books and nothing is that difficult but tastes delicious

  2. Yum! My mouth waters as I read about your cooking Maitri. 🙂

    I have also gotten back into more ‘cooking from scratch’ in the past couple of years. In the cooler months I love to prepare hearty soups and other one pot dishes. I also love the smell of these things cooking and permeating the apartment. It is a delight to me if I go out and come back home and walk into the delicious scent. Or, even waking up the next day and walking out to the kitchen the fragrance is still there. This really says ‘home’ to me.

  3. Thank you for your kind words about my posts Caroline. I am delighted that you love them! And I can’t wait to check Delia out. Thanks so much for sharing her! 🙂

    Blessings,

    Maitri

  4. Hi Joan, isn’t cooking wonderful?

    It is so easy to get away from it when you are one day alone after raising a family, but we have to take care of ourselves and the older I get the more I appreciate the tasks around hearth and home. And yes, it is jut a wonderful thing smelling the yummy things cooking! Would you like to share a recipe? I’d love to know what some of your favorites are!

    Blessings dearheart!

    Maitri

  5. Hello again Maitri,

    As i was reading your post, i was remembering my first times after divorce, six years ago. I was used to have a house full, and cooked every day for all of us. Then, one day it’s only me and my 9 year old princess and no will to do cooking. I had to start all over again, and do things just for both of us. A few months ago i had to start again. Imagine my princess, now 16, one day says she does not want o eat meat. Here i go looking for new recipes. I found the scrambled eggs with new flavors. Scrambled eggs is something we cook a lot in Portugal. With Asparagus, with sausage, with parsley and coriander or basil, and with leeks. Also use the trick of adding some milk or else a little bechamel sauce to make them soft.
    As for the apples i also use cinnamon and raisins. They are delicious together.

    • Hello Bela,

      Thank you so much for visiting and I love what you wrote. The thing I was just thinking of and smiling to myself, related to the fact that the day after I wrote this post I wrote about living in the cell phone and digital age, is that despite it all there are so many people getting back to cooking, and gardening, and it came to me that the universe is always trying to right itself. Even though I spend so much time online, and too much time fiddling with my cell phone, still, here I am cooking again, and I just came in from the garden with the dogs, and here you are, and here so many others are, finding our way to new recipes, and what to do with eggs!

      You have inspired me to try to do even more things with eggs, oh, asparagus with eggs sounds lovely. A friend who writes to me via email instead of here wrote a long response to this post that was positively poetic about cooking with her mother, and just short of turning 70 about the joy she has in cooking so many things, picking things from her garden to use. This just all makes me so happy. Thanks so much for sharing. And Margaretha, another dear friend, has also responded here and said she would like to put cardamom in the apples. Yes! I am going to try that. Cinnamon and raisins are staples that I dearly love. I was even just thinking of using the cranraisins out now. Cranberries and applies and cinnamon! Doesn’t that sound good? 😀

      Come again soon, I love to hear from you!

      Blessings,

      Maitri

  6. Maitri my friend, I got that recipe from you years ago – but haven’t had it for a long time now. Glad you reminded me, because it is VERY good, I’ll make it one of these days. I don’t grow basil though, and a tiny, rather sad pot is very expensive…
    I have to admit, that there are things I rather do, than cook.
    The apple dish sounds very good – I love cardamom, so I think I’ll use that.
    Margaretha

    • Sweet Margaretha, I am just so delighted every time I see you here. I picture you sitting there writing with Askar in your lap or at your side…

      You know basil is SO easy to grow from seed and it is easy to grow inside if you have a warm window or under a light. Have you ever tried to grow it inside? And I think the thing about cooking is that I have put it off and off and off but something simple like eggs is easy to make without a lot of to do or fuss or mess.

      And as I just wrote to Bela in response to her wonderful comment, I said that you had written in here about the cardamom and Yes! I Have to try that! I would love to hear what kind of recipes you do like when you cook. I love to know what people cook in different parts of the world.

      You are always in my heart and in my thoughts dear one. I send you so much love…

      Here’s a gentle, warm hug…

      Maitri

Leave a Comment

*