Cooking as a spiritual exercise; day 1 of Ramadan

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Today as of the sunset marked the first whole day of Ramadan on June 18th I partook in one of my favorite spiritual exercises; cooking. I admit, it took a lot out of me to fast but in the time I cooked and ate before dawn and also at sunset I found serenity, calm, but also God.
I love cooking, I really do; adding ingredients, spices, fusion & improvisational, cultural, and lest I forget the byproduct of cooking- eating!
So as I took time to cook for myself, I cooked in moderation and I took time to vocalize thankfulness to God. I honestly believe that, in moderation, God wants us to enjoy food; for nourishment as well as enjoyment. Because as y’all know, there are some good foods out there that aren’t healthy for you but that’s why moderation is key!

It is in the act of cooking that I’m able to slow down my busy life & focus on the task at hand. It’s very centering to me, akin to my times of prayer and meditation. Perhaps it’s out of sustenance and sustaining that I am able to connect with The Great Sustainer, that I’m able to feed myself and others and we are fed and we rejoice in the goodness of each other’s company and being no longer hungry.

So with all that being said, gratitude / thankfulness / food has been my keywords on this first day of Ramadan. Thanks be to God, The Great Sustainer, for food and every good thing.

Salaam alaikum be yours now and always,
Nathanael

Journeys of a foodie – 12/28

I am a self-described foodie; I like all forms of cuisine no matter how weird or odd it is.  My rule of thumb is to try it once, and if it is not an enjoyable I don’t have to eat it ever again!

Because of this credo of mine, I’ve tried some weird stuff, but I think the strangest food I’ve eaten was whole cooked fish that was heavily salted. It looked like this:

I was attending a church when I was in college, a Lao church, where I was one of a handful non-Lao members. Every Sunday the aunties would cook up a potluck for anyone and everyone, and I the foodie decided to give it all a try. The chicken foot soup was gelatinous from the cartilage, but was passable, the Lapsong Souschong ice tea was smoky but very good, but the entire fish…One bite in, I was done, not so much the texture but how incredibly salty it was! I did after one bite in accept the challenge of eating the eyes as that was a Lao thing to do (or so I was told)…and so, I still wear an invisible-to-everyone badge of honor for being honorary Lao! 🙂

I keep trying different foods, it’s fun to try the food of other countries. Lately I’ve been sampling the food at a local Nepalese/Indian restaurant called Taste Of Himalayas. I went there for lunch the other day and I had the following:


Chili Pakora; hot peppers deep fried in spices and cornmeal batter. Not bad, comes with different chutneys ranging from minty to sweet to tart. All in all, I like it will have it again.

I also had

Khasi Ko Masu; a goat dish that was very aromatic and spicy, but sadly the goat meat was pretty old or wasn’t marinated long enough because it was chewy and hard. Plus there was a lot of gristle and cartilage to contend with, which really isn’t all that appetizing.

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I like eating, I’ve got the gut to prove it and the guts to try it all (maybe). So here’s to different cuisines the world over, and it all begins with that first bite.

~Nathanael~

12/30 – Whoever said the kitchen was woman’s territory only?

Whoever said the kitchen was woman’s territory only?

I love to cook, bake, prepare, experiment, sample, whip, whisk, beat, mash, broil, boil and filet…but the best part of cooking? Eating! 🙂

There’s something about cooking that is zen to me; I appreciate spending investing time in making a meal for myself but I actually prefer cooking for others. On my mother’s side of the family there are bakers and on my father’s side there are butchers, and when it trickles down to me I like being balanced so I do both.

Out of the 4 kids in my family I am probably the one who cooks the most and consequently experiments the most. I am glad that I don’t have cable otherwise I might spend more than my fair share of watching cooking shows. I caught a bit of a foodie documentary of sorts the other day, and while I didn’t watch all of it I did find the entire episode on YouTube – Sandwiches that you will like

One thing I like about summer is that there are more garage sales, which means that I can get cooking gear inexpensively. So far this summer I have purchased a bread machine for $10 and a Belgium Waffle maker for $1! Speaking of the latter, I made some waffles today and I failed…but I didn’t give up; I ditched my first batch of batter because it said it would be too lumpy, my batter was too runny, so I grabbed a pancake mix and followed that mix’s directions for waffles, still runny…so I added more batter, made sure my waffle iron was hot enough and greased up for cooking, failure again…

But I persisted and I came out ahead! Success! Look at my awesome waffle 🙂

But that’s cooking for ya, experimentation and improvisation are part of the game and I love it.

~Nathanael~

Foodies Beware! The Jackfruit

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The Jackfruit

Today I went to a Korean supermarket known as H Mart and I bought several things; teriyaki sauce, kimchi, lychees, peanut satay sauce and jackfruit…

Now my intentions were to buy Durian instead of Jackfruit, and I thought, I thought, they were one and the same…but it turns out they are two different things.

Durian is a fruit that is notoriously known as the smelliest fruit on the planet. With that being said, I’ve had it before, and I enjoyed it, but what exactly does it taste like if it earns the the smelliest fruit award you might ask? It tastes like eating garlic and mango in the same bite, so…different, so…good, but in small doses.

Jackfruit tastes a bit like pineapple, but also has it’s own flavor as well. Looking over Wikipedia’s entry on the Jackfruit I discovered that it’s a relative of the mulberry, go figure!

But here’s the clincher as to why I say foodies beware; the Jackfruit is sticky, VERY VERY sticky!!! Apparently I should have soaked a knife in coconut oil as well as my hands prior to cutting into the Jackfruit…but this I learned after the fact by way of Google searches. It tastes good, but it is not worth the mess; sticky knife, sticky fingers, sticky mustache, sticky picnic table…le sigh.

Now will I have it again? Yes! It’s that good! But either I will follow the instructions of preparing the Jackfruit, or have someone else prepare it and keep all noticeable traces of schadenfreude under wraps as they deal with the sticky monstrosity that is the Jackfruit.

Lesson learned, class dismissed, moving onward and upward!

~Nathanael~