Through the Fire

Cooking our way into a new relationship with food!

Back in the Saddle Again…

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here’s a moment of nostalgia for the oldsters who loved cowboy shows…

Now to the point of the post! I’m home after a kind of whirlwind month of travel! Mexico, Crete, and Montana! phew. It’s got me thinking about balance.

Balance of travel and home time. sleep and activity. work and play. deep spiritual activity and the “mundane” everyday chores. the balance of foods and flavors, the more healthy and the less so. quiet and busy-ness. quiet and chatter. solitude and community. bitter and sweet. and, the light and the dark.

Some days we walk a very fine line, like a tight rope, easy to fall to one extreme or the other. Some days we jump off that rope in one direction or the other. Some days it all falls into place and other days it’s like those  guys on the TV back in the day, spinning all those plates. ( look out for more nostalgia) And some days, it just flows.

What do you typically do when you get out of balance ? Do you even know ? Sometimes, it takes me a while to even notice how out of balance I am. Oh yeah, duh, I am totally exhausted. Um, I just ate a bag of chips. What’s up with that ? Where do you notice you get out of balance the most often ?

I have a feeling for most of us it may be sleep. Do you get enough ? How can you change that ?

A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor’s book.  ~Irish Proverb

Read this article by Mark Sisson. It really does seem the definitive guide to information about sleep.

How about over working and under playing? Do you give yourself time to play ? Everyone will have a different definition of that. You could lump play and relaxation together, though if you are a very active person, it might be good to separate those and equate resting and relaxing a bit more.

Slacklining is a practice in balance that typically uses nylon or polyester webbing tensioned between two anchor points.

All of those balance issues I listed above can get connected to eating, to how we feel about our selves, and our bodies.When I get exhausted, sometimes I eat more, I eat less consciously. I am less likely to feel positive. When I over do, I hurt and that can easily lead to crummy feelings about my body. I might get angry at my body for weaknesses. I might get angry at myself and feel guilty or condemn myself for not being strong enough or whatever. I might decide to punish myself over it. I might get really sad about it. I can shut down. If I don’t get enough quiet time, I might also go into that sort of shut down mode and then I really get unconscious about what I eat.

I invite you to contemplate these things.

As a cook and working on being conscious about eating and cooking, one of the ways that I can “get control” and find balance is in cooking and what I am eating. I see it as a place to start if, for example, trying to find enough time to play and sleep seems too daunting. From a taste AND a health perspective, it is important to balance the flavors and energies of what we eat. We have five tastes, these being bitter, salty, sweet, sour, and pungent. In Traditional Chinese medicine, these correspond to the seasons, to the elements, and to different organs in our bodies. It can be a life time of study to learn about this but here is a good simple article to start. From more of a cooking and taste perspective, there are some really good ideas in this article.

Bitter seems to be the most challenging taste for most of us. How about giving this recipe a try ?

from the Wall Street Journal

You can substitute Chioggia or Verona radicchio for the Treviso, or you can use Belgian endive. If you use the endive, replace the vinegar with lemon juice. Any creamy cheese works as long as it’s mild; you want it to balance, not overwhelm, the bitterness of the radicchio. Try a Normandy Camembert, Pierre Robert or Brillat-Savarin.

Total Time: 20 minutes Serves: 4

  • 2 heads Treviso radicchio (about 7 ounces each), cut into quarters
  • Olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2½ ounces creamy cow’s milk cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

1. Drizzle radicchio with oil, turning to lightly coat pieces. Season with salt and pepper.

2. Heat a gas grill to medium, or set a heavy cast-iron pan on the stove over medium heat. Once hot, add radicchio and cook, turning often, until soft, browned and lightly charred, about 12 minutes. Transfer to a serving dish.

3. Immediately top radicchio with dollops of cheese and drizzle with vinegar. The heat of the radicchio will melt the cheese.

This excerpt is adapted from “Bitter: A Taste of the World’s Most Dangerous Flavor, With Recipes,” which will be published September 16 by Ten Speed Press.

I suggest using a soft goat cheese, a sprinkle of garlic granules, and experiment with different vinegars like fig. mmmm!



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