This white-haired woman on the Kake territory of Alaska bends to rinse the fresh salmon eggs in a bucket of Alaskan sea, under the gaze of mountains. “It won’t turn out if you don’t have peace in your heart,” she said. I wasn’t fortunate enough to witness this act –we watched it unfold on Andrew Zimmern’s Bizarre Foods America. And at first, I rejected the whole statement. After all, there have been many nights I have turned out a unique and lively meal with anger, sadness and heaviness in my heart. Nothing burned, nothing separated, nothing seized. Except for me. My relaxed and meditative cooking became a multi-tasked, clock watching, batter splattered, grumbly little CF. And yet I kept doing it because it made me feel normal during a time of transition and uncertainty and all around stress. My time in the kitchen became what I never wanted it to be – a chore – and eating became a fast, silent and often depleted affair. In short, my cooking has been without passion and my consumption is often mindless.
We started this blog to document and appreciate our travels in food and drink and the people and places we share those experiences with. On a spiritual and philosophical level, I also want to share my appreciation for the diversity of nourishing, living things on this earth, and to practice being grateful and amazed by the many forms they can take and gifts they can bring to us. So I am working on finding satisfaction by cultivating wonder in my kitchen again – and I am re-learning what peace in the heart does to my food, my eating, and my outlook. And I have managed to make quite a few things with a peaceful and present heart.
Coconut Cardamom Banana Bread
With no added sugar or oil, based on The Sweet Beet recipe, with a few minor substitutions.
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups mashed banana (about 2 large very ripe – mine were totally black)
1/2 cup apple sauce
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup of almond coconut milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup white flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup of unsweetened shredded coconut
About 1 teaspoon or a teaspoon and a half of cardamom pods, smashed with mortar and pestle
Preheat oven to 350. Grease loaf pan or use parchment paper. In large bowl, beat the eggs with a beater until fluffy. Mash the ripe bananas and add to the eggs – I don’t bother to measure out the banana. I just added a bit more apple sauce one time when I sensed it wasn’t quite thin enough. Both times I have made it, it turned out fine without measuring! Add milk and vanilla and mix well. In another bowl mix all dry ingredients and add dry to wet. Pour into loaf pan. The recipe says to bake for 45 minutes but I am often closer to an hour, even on convection setting. Just watch closely and make use of that good ole raw spaghetti trick!
3 tablespoons almond coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon of pure vanilla
1 cup icing sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
Whisk all the glaze ingredients together and pour overtop of the loaf while it is still a bit warm. This is a thin glaze that the loaf will absorb, so I would recommend trying to loosen the loaf from the pan when you take it out to cool, but to leave it in the loaf pan to cool and then pour the glaze overtop so it soaks it all up. As you can see from the picture, I poured mine overtop after the fact and lost a lot of goodness on the bottom!
Buffalo Chicken Chilli
3 tablespoons of vegetable oil
1 lb of ground chicken, 1 lb of ground turkey
3 large carrot, thickly sliced
1 large onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
5 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground paprika
1/2 cup buffalo wing sauce
1 – 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (I add, to taste, near the end)
1 19 oz can of tomatoes
1 19 0z can of tomato sauce
1 can of white beans
1 can of black beans
Brown the chicken and turkey in the vegetable oil. Add the spices and the garlic and cook until fragrant and toasty, about 1 to 2 minutes.
Stir in the veggies and brown until the onions are soft and transluscent. Add salt and pepper just to season.
Stir in all the remaining ingredients, bring to a simmer, then turn down to low. Put a lid on it and go about the rest of your day. Add the apple cider vinegar, and more salt and pepper to taste when you are almost ready to serve.
We had ours with sliced fresh avocado, cilantro, and some good squeezes of lime juice!
Inspired by this recipe from Savoury Simple, last week’s variation was goji berry and apricot, this week it’s blueberry almond vanilla.
- 2 1/4 cups regular or gluten-free rolled oats
- 1 cup quinoa, uncooked
- 1 cup whole raw almonds (or other nuts of your choosing)
- 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
- 1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
- 1 cup of honey (or 1/2 cup honey and half cup applesauce)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 2/3 cup dried fruits of your choice
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients, except the dried fruit and mix well.
In a smaller bowl combine the vanilla and binder/sweetners together. Add the liquids into the dry ingredients and stir well to make sure everything is evenly coated.
Spread the mix in an even, thin layer on the baking sheet. Sprinkle the cinnamon evenly on top.
Bake for approximately one hour, turning the granola every 10-25 minutes. For the first half of the cooking time, I don’t check it as often, but as it gets closer to done you will want to check it to make sure it isn’t burning. I have burned granola in the past and it is very depressing.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool before storing in an airtight container.
NOTE: if you use the full cup of honey, I would recommend cooking at a lower temp (the original recipe I followed baked it at 225 and I ended up turning it up to 275 after an hour because it just wasn’t toasting darkly enough for me. But I imagine the lower cooking time is probably better for not burning your honey!). If you use the honey and apple sauce combination, you will get some sweetness but you won’t get those shattery little clusters – that only comes if you substitute with some shiny syrupy goodness like maple syrup or brown rice syrup.
May your own kitchen adventures bring you peace too.