The Art of Cooking: A radical act of love for the Planet
Food is a way to travel, spices know no boundaries. I am a gypsy combining flavors and cultures like the sand moves across the desert - there are no set rules. The way I cook is the way I lead my life, breathing into each moment, feeling the quality of my energy and seeing where the desire lies and what direction to take. I learned living in post-conflict countries that planning is nice, but the best laid out plans get overtaken by unexpected twists. I let each moment be my teacher and see how to breathe more space into each moment no matter what limitations are around.
I cook all my own meals, as an act of love and true environmentalism.
It became harder and harder to eat out, so many questions on sourcing, quality, GMOs, organic, water quality. To price a meal of integrity would be exorbitant. What price do you put on infusing prayer into each slice of the onion, or joy at seeing a perfectly ripe avocado? What if each moment was a chance to stand in gratitude, rather than just seeing food as a necessary act of survival? What if it was a chance to practice sacred reciprocity for the water, and the earth to bring the elements to you, or the gas or electricity to bring the ingredients to you? What if each moment was a chance for devotion and mindfulness?
We live in a world filled with societal, ecological and environmental disturbances, both at the personal and interpersonal levels. Energy is everything.
I first learned how to cook eggplant parmesan while living in a dorm in Paris. There was no actual register of how hot the burners were cooking so everything was intuitive and demanded your attention, otherwise it would be brulée or burned...As a vegetarian there was nothing I could eat so it became an act of love, to care for myself. I learned to build my strength with each meal I made. Working as a diplomat around the world on peacebuilding projects, I immersed myself in creativity in the kitchen. It was something I could control, a way to stay sane when nothing else made sense. I quickly mastered cuisine after cuisine. What was the way I did it? Through curiosity and devotion to myself, commitment to my values, and desire to be more alive. Why would I eat something made by someone else that possibly was birthed in such a harsh way? Why would I outsource the most precious thing in this world to a complete stranger?
On my plate, I have the whole United Nations represented - eggplant and tomatoes cooked with traditional Ethiopian berbere spice and Italian balsamic vinegar, heirloom tortilla mixed with ayurvedic grounding Indian spices, combined with adzuki beans and a rice and quinoa combination.
I remember the time I cooked adzuki beans in Colombia to teach the hotel where I was staying how to prepare vegan dishes. I remember shucking each sacred grain out of the quinoa fronds when I was living in Colombia. I remember the constant memory of the spice market in Istanbul or the delight at eating Ethiopian food for breakfast in Addis Ababa. Cooking for one’s self is much more than a radical act of love, but also a serenade to your past, present and future - it is memories in action. It is profound beauty as you connect with the farmer who faithfully grew the plants or even the origin story of how those vegetables arrived in those lands. When I cook eggplant, I think of the discussions of its origins - Persia (bádemján - بادمجان), Georgia (badrijani - ბადრიჯანი), Turkey (patlıcan) - the stories held in the dishes. I think of the people who have inspired my dishes, my travels, the whispers of visitors in the story of my life. I connect with love each time I start to prepare something however small.
Love is an unbreakable contract with yourself. The greatest act of self-love there is to eat regularly - wholesome, organic ingredients that come from the earth.
Each moment is a chance to reflect to illuminate the parts of you that are hard to feel. Food is more than fuel - it both nourishes our body, but also the deeper parts of our emotions and our soul. It can also be an intention or invocation. One of my favorite dishes is called “I am grateful” based on Cafe Gratitude’s gratitude bowl. Here is a recipe to assemble the bowl:
½ cup - 1 cup brown rice/quinoa cooked (spices - bay leaf, pink salt, adobo chile in the purified water used to cook it)
1 cup black or cranberry beans (around 140-150 grams) also cooked with bay leaf, fenugreek seeds, adobo chile, oregano and basil leaf.
½ cup fennel bulb
½ cup cabbage
Ume boshi vinegar
Basil olive oil
2 tablespoons tahini (if wanted)
1 tsp - 1 tablespoon grated ginger
Basil or mint leaves
Dash of purified water (if too thick)
Directions: blend in blender for a moment until blended. Cover rice and beans bowl generously and state to yourself - what you are grateful for!
Chakras & other Meditations Links
A native of San Francisco, Stephanie Hilborn Spiritual ecologist - tree hugger/ocean seeker - peacemaker - truth-teller - a former diplomat and Vegan chef! Stephanie is a dedicated academic/life coach nurturing local youth to discover their potential. For more information check out her website Catalyzing Inspiration or follow her on Instagram. Join the Inspiration Bootcamp!
Here are some Vegan Cookbook Suggestions:
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