Wednesday, April 28, 2010

We're Cookin' Now!

Recipe: Nut 'Cheese'

Some people love to cook. Some people feel they just don't have time for it. Some, well, just have no interest.

Cooking analogies are particularly apt for many aspects of our lives. Cooking is a transformational act. An alchemical process.

Like, 'what's cookin'? Or, 'Let's simmer on that', 'that's half baked!', 'put it on the back burner', or 'we're cookin' now!'.

Let's take it a little deeper. 'I'm cooked'. 'I'm sitting in the fire.'

Getting warmer?

We begin with a raw substance, usually a living substance. A plant. An animal. Something that lives and breathes. A life. Life. Living and breathing. Can you touch the life happening in yourself right here, right now?

Our heads buzz along at such a fast pace, we often miss a deeper communication with our food, and with ourselves.

Imagine all the input of our lives as food from the fields. The process of getting it from the field to our plate is how we respond, react, ruminate and navigate through our days. Wouldn't you want to give it your full attention? Pick it with love, chop it carefully, notice which are the choicest, plumpest experiences, have the earthiest spice mixture, the hottest fire for searing, the gentlest heat for the long simmer, send the indigestible bits to the garden for composting to make the soil richer. Wouldn't you want to pay attention to the natural vibrancy, the life inherent in the process itself?

Oh, let's up the ante - what if you dove in full body, bathed in the luscious, scrumptiousness of flavor and texture, snuggling and giggling with complete abandon with the leaves and fronds, licking and slurping and rubbing all the amazing fats and brothiness into your welcoming pores....

In my twenties I cooked to pay the bills while I was studying to be - an actress, a writer, a filmmaker, ... I was a party girl rushing headlong into the future of imagined fame and fortune. I rushed through a marriage and a divorce, about 15 different apartments and houses, and enough drugs and alcohol to fully cover all my need for escape for the rest of my life. I was running as fast as I could to avoid catching up with myself, to really experience what was happening in my life.

Until, running full tilt, I hit the wall. The heating element on the electric stove of my life burned out, short circuited. There had to be a different way.

In my thirties I found myself cooking at a meditation retreat center with no other goal than the cooking and the meditating. My thoughts were incredibly loud for a long time, but they did eventually quiet down. A bit. And that revealed the incredible dance that I wrote about in my last blog post.

It also revealed many sweetnesses and subtleties in my emotional life. Some were painful. It was clear that running for as long as I did had contributed to habits of distraction that were very difficult to break.

Slowing down with the cooking allowed me to slow down with myself. Slowing down with myself allowed me to slow down with the cooking. Which is true? Each revealed the other.

I invite you to slow down in the midst of your life. We don't have to go to the retreat center to slow down (although it can be a helpful jump start) - we just have to value the precious moments of our lives. Value our bodies, our loved ones, our contributions to the world.

Just take a moment, right now. Look out the window. Take a breath. Feel your body in your chair.

Let this moment take care of itself. The next moment will come, all by itself. And if you're fully in this one, you'll be more ready for the next, standing right in the center of your life. Because where is that? Right here.

And don't forget to really enjoy your food. It's life itself.

Nut Cheese
Gluten and dairy-free, salicylate free, low carb

  • 1 cup nut or seeds of choice - hazelnuts, pumpkin seeds, pecans, etc. Cashews make a delicious 'cheese', but know that they are considered a 'mold' food
  • 1 - 2 cups cabbage tonic, or a couple of good quality probiotic capsules and water
  • 2 Tbsp lemon or lime juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Celtic sea salt to taste
  • flavorings of choice - my favorite is pesto. Any mix of kalamata olive, sundried tomato, nutritional yeast, garlic, parsley; or with cashews, pecans or hazelnuts you can go more in the direction of dates and stevia for a sweeter 'cream cheese'.
Soak nuts or seeds in plenty of non-chlorinated water for at least 8 hours, preferably 12 - 24 hours. Drain and rinse. Set to sprout if desired.

Place nuts and enough cabbage tonic or water and probiotic capsule contents to barely cover in a food processor. Pulse until the nuts or seeds are broken down and mixture resembles cottage cheese.

Place mixture in a jar and cap with a sprouting screen or layer of cheese cloth held on with rubber band or canning ring. Set in a warm place for up to 12 hours.

Drain 'cheese' in a nut milk bag or other fine mesh strainer until fairly dry and crumbly. Mix with flavorings in a food processor until desired consistency - if your looking for a 'cream cheese' like product, you may need to add a little water and let it process for a few minutes until very smooth. Other herb flavors will lend themselves to slightly chunkier textures.

Serve with crackers or raw vegetables. Or I just eat it by the spoonful as a snack.

I know this is called 'cheese', but honestly I think of it more as a low carb replacement for hummus. Enjoy!

This post is a part of Real Food Wednesday, hosted by Kelly the Kitchen Kop.

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