The Kitchen As Mirror: Nourishing Ourselves
By Sarah Cutler
If you walk into my kitchen today, you’ll see clean clear counters. Shiny dishes are piled neatly in the drain rack. The drain screens in the sink are empty. There’s a lingering smell of warm cooked grains, beets, and beans. A quiet, peaceful feel emanates from that corner of my living space and, indeed, that corner of my life.
Today, all the dishes are done. All the food has been lovingly chopped, and carefully put away with no hurry and no stress. I even sat down to eat—breakfast and lunch. There’s no reason I won’t sit down for dinner, too, later when all this good food has completed its rounds in my belly. It’s a workday, and yet it all feels really lovely—
yummy, even. I’m satiated, satisfied, comfortably full, and my breath is peaceful and calm.
I’ve noticed a trend: the state of my kitchen reflects back to me how well I’m doing at nourishing myself. I’m slow to realize that I’m running on empty, until piles of unwashed dishes clatter around like greasy shards of a hectic day. The drain gets clogged by food I didn’t have time to chew. All my pots are out, and the stove looks like the floor after a middle-school food fight. There are starchy streaks of boiled-over grains starting to blacken on the edges of pots once shiny and silver, and the magenta blood of overzealous beets mixes with the tenacious stain of turmeric on the white enamel of the stove.
A watched pot never boils, but an unwatched pot boils over everything.
It’s starting to soak in that my life follows the same sort of trend. When packed too full, I boil over without careful watching. The real eye openers are the days that I’m standing at my counter trying to convince myself that it’s perfectly acceptable to make a dinner out of raw carrots and apples and a spoon in the peanut-butter jar. I’m out of breath and hungry now. All sorts of good food sit in my pantry, and it is glorious in its inaccessibility. Brown rice takes 45 minutes to cook, and black beans take three hours (if I’ve managed to soak them long enough), and there’s nothing clean enough to cook the carrots in even if I could find the space to chop them. On days like this, I’m hungry no matter what I’ve managed to shove down my gullet.
On the other hand, sometimes in a half-hour before I fall into bed I’m too tired to do much more than putter. Sometimes I think to set some grain to soak overnight in a polished pot on the clean stove. In under half a minute, I’ll put some beans to soak, and occasionally
I’ll chop up some veggies that I let sit in my quiet Crock Pot overnight. I’ve discovered that I love a sea vegetable soup thick with local root veggies for breakfast, so if I have a minute with a knife (or if I’m chopping something for dinner, I’ll chop breakfast as well) I can set those veggies in their water at the ready for the morning. The prep takes less time than the dishes, and even the cleanup is simple and easy. In the morning, it takes me 15 minutes to get enough good simple food going that Iam guaranteed to eat well, warmly, and cheaply all day. It’s so nice just to be fed.
Sarah Michelle “Sarasvati” Cutler, is a Registered Polarity Practitioner, Cranial Sacral Therapist, Kripalu Yoga Teacher, and passionate creator of nourishment inspired by local whole-foods and influenced by the wisdom of Ayurveda. She is frequently found at the Santa Fe Farmer’s Market sharing clown-kisses with any she can entice to play. Visit www.laughingtreespace.com for more Resources for Embodied Living.
Root and Sea Soup
The spring time with its transition from the moist, cold, damp of winter is seen as Kapha time in Ayurveda. The growing spring winds after a period of darkness, make Spring Liver Time for practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Lighten and clear your system with this luscious, nourishing, and colorful soup. Stunningly beautiful, winter’s stock of root veggies gives over to new spring babies. Beets, carrots, burdock, leeks, and daikon all have specific action to stimulate and harmonize the liver. For a slightly more pungent soup, look for yellow beets. The spices act both to warm the soup and as a blood tonic, and burdock purifies the lymphatic system. Consider
adding additional garlic, ginger, and turmeric if one of those lingering, phlegm-y, spring colds seems imminent. Sea veggies, while not exactly local, are high in minerals and sooth the whole system. Follow the rule as it is for a festive spring lunch or supper; simplify by skipping the sauté step and prepping the night before. Add 4 Tbsp. tahini or almond butter and 2 Tbsp. miso to final blending stage for a super-human’s breakfast. Generously serves 4. (Total time with chopping, ~35 minutes)
2 small leeks (or one medium onion), cleaned and chopped including several inches of green
1 clove garlic, minced
1 ½- inch piece of ginger, minced (peeled if desired)
1 t. cumin seed
1 3-inch piece of burdock, quartered and sliced (OPTIONAL, peeled if desired)
1 t. turmeric
1 t. ground coriander, (or whole seeds toasted in dry skillet and ground)
1-2 t. sprouted fenugreek seeds (OPTIONAL)
2 carrots cut into small pieces
2 medium beets cut just smaller than the carrots
1 3-inch piece of daikon radish, cut like the carrots
1 4-inch piece of Kombu (sea vegetable) torn into 6+ pieces
4-5 T. sea veggies of your choice (wakame, dulse, hajiki, arame) soaked 5 minutes in cool water and drained
2 ½ C. washed and chopped spring greens such as arugula, dandelion, kale, or Asian greens
Ghee (clarified butter), olive, or sesame oil for sautéing
Optional garnishes and condiments: parsley, garlic oil, toasted nuts or seeds,
fresh lemon, cider vinegar, soy sauce, chili, black pepper, miso, and tahini.
In a 2 ½-quart sauce pan, sauté leek in ghee or oil until translucent (about 5 minutes). Add cumin, garlic, ginger, and burdock. Continue to cook over medium-high heat until garlic begins to brown. Add remaining spices, and root vegetables, mixing to coat. Add sea veggies and cover with three inches of water. Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, until everything is fork-tender (15-20 minutes, depending on how large the veggie pieces are.) With an immersion blender, blender, or food processor pulse soup to desired consistency; add more water for a thinner soup. Return to heat and add greens; cover until wilted (1-2 minutes). Serve with a twist of lemon and a crack of pepper, or garnish with your choice of condiments. May you have vibrant health!