What's up at
Over the years I've honed my cooking process. As I've come to know what I like, what my family likes and what to keep on hand most of the time it has become much easier for me to whip up a satisfying meal quickly and with fewer disasters.
It has been a long process, one fraught with many hangups, fears, bad tasting food, divergent food needs, and changing tastes. I offer here some of my hard earned gems. These are the pillars of my cooking process. These keep my family and myself in nourishment regularly. These are the foundation. They keep me grounded and support me even if the day sucked and I can't figure out what to make. They help me when I have to bring a potluck contribution and I haven't planned what to bring yet. They help me when I'm excited and want to try something new. They transform food from the garden, the farmer's market and the corner store alike.
Are you ready?
1. oil and salt right by the stove
This is the very first thing I do with my friends and clients. Its like Fen Shui for cooking. It makes a huge difference. If you always have salt and your cooking fat (whichever you prefer) at hand you will spend so much less time running in circles. This will save you much needed thought power and energy that I'm sure you can find better things to do with.
I keep salt in a bowl. This means its always ready for me to grab a pinch. No shaking or pouring. I use unrefined sea salt so it has texture easy to pinch.
Salt that is refined is a whole different animal (or mineral haha). Unrefined salt has much needed minerals and when cooking from scratch you may be surprised how much you use to elevate the flavors of your food.
If you'll notice I have my cutting board and chef's knife right next to my stove. This is a bonus tip because you got a picture of my kitchen exactly as it is while I am writing this blog post. In fact I just finished those brussel sprouts and they were amazing.
Butter and olive oil are my favorite fats for cooking. There is also a jar of coconut oil just out of view that debuts in some of my Thai and Indian favorites or with my sweet potato oven fries. And that's grape seed oil that I use for West African food as a replacement for peanut oil. My husband is Senegalese so we make a fair amount of Senegalese food and olive oil just doesn't taste right.
2. keep a well stocked pantry
I cannot emphasize enough how this can make it possible to cook without lots of planning. Its a proactive step. An act of love for the You who makes a meal on the fly while juggling dozens of other things throughout the day.
I keep on hand several legumes (beans, lentils etc.), rice, pasta, potatoes, seasonal vegetables, spices, cheese, frozen and fresh meat and fish, yogurt, flour, onions, garlic, lemons, sweeteners and spices at all times.
I build a meal from what needs to be used next and what feels reasonable in the rotation. For example I look in the refrigerator today I have beef that needs using, celery, carrots, potatoes, string beans. That looks like stew to me. Its snowing outside so a heavier meal feels appropriate. Stew takes about 20 min to start and then it cooks slow. I can start dinner early and reheat it later or it could potentially be ready within an hour of eating. Its flexible, nutrient rich, tasty and most of all my family likes it so its not a waste of my time and energy.
Did I plan this meal in advance? Well yes and no. I had the forethought to make sure my refrigerator was stocked with my favorite ingredients both fresh and shelf stable. I responded in the moment when I had the time available time to think about the meal. Did I spend more than 10 minutes trying to figure out dinner? No definitely not.
3. breathe. love. trust.
It has taken me years to hone this practice. She takes a deep breath.
When I'm standing at my cutting board or in front of the stove I pause to breathe.
I check in with my body. Are my shoulders up or are they relaxed? She takes another breath.
Can I visualize how I want this meal to turn out? I can't always and that's ok too but its good to be clear where I'm working from.
I feel my feet on the floor. Is my jaw clenched? Am I feeling rushed? Do I feel love in my body as I prepare this meal?
I breathe into my whole body. Because its all of me, the human me, the spirit me, the mother me, the wife me who prepares this meal.
And this is what I've noticed.
When I'm relaxed and enjoying the cooking process, breathing loving intention as I cook, the meal itself feels different.
It feels more nourishing. And my family is more drawn to it.
I feel peace and confidence offering it, sensing my ease they take the leap of faith to consume the food another has prepared for them. When I feel love while I prepare it, they enjoy it more and resist it less even if its new or not their favorite yet.
When I practice feeling love while I prepare a meal my family reacts differently. In fact everyone does. Its a game I've been playing with myself for a long long time. I prepare food with as much loving intention as I am able in that moment. I offer it to someone(s). And they feel it. Sometimes consciously but often unconsciously. Most often they respond to what they can touch and taste unaware of the secret ingredient. My loving intention to nourish them body and soul.
This is my favorite kind of game. It brings tears to me as I share it with you. I feel like I'm revealing one of my biggest secrets.
I take this risk of this self revelation because it is a game changer. Beneath all of our conversations about sourcing and which foods are healthiest I believe we are looking for the love. We want a tangible sense of love in our food.
The place I have found most effective, most potent, most accessible is within myself while I am preparing food in my kitchen.
It reminds me of the Christian practice of praying before a meal. Which I was never good at and am not to this day.
It always felt empty, the ritual of thanking outside of myself. But the practice of feeling love inside of myself feels self responsible. It feels tangible. It feels practical. And it feels potent.
I invite you to begin this practice. I'd love to hear your experience. Do you notice a difference in how others respond to the meal? Do you notice a difference in how you respond to the meal?
Follow Janelle on Instagram @lucidolight and on Twitter @ourdailykraut
Welcome! I'm Janelle. This is a place of inspiration about real everyday food life. I want to know how I can serve you!
Connect with me on Instagram @lucidolight or on twitter @ourdailykraut or find me on Facebook! Janelle Allyn Lucido Conate