Cooking to Heal #1

2013-02-04 18.04.53-2One thing I have been working on recently is my cooking.  I pretty much have figured out how to assemble and freeze and then cook crock-pot meals-in-a-bag.  I’m still eating on these every few days.  They taste good and are nutritious.  In another few weeks, it will be time to make up a bunch more bags full of goodies.

I am also trying my hand at baking bread.  There is actually a loaf in the other room baking right now with about another 30 minutes to go.  Fortunately, it is looking good.  Sadly, the two prior loafs were donated to the birds out in the front yard – assuming they were able to swallow the concrete-like substance that was supposed to have been apple bread.  Anyway, the loaf baking right now looks really good and it smells good, too.  I changed a kneading method and altered the liquid amount in the recipe from my two previous forays – so far so good.  More on my baking exploits later.

Cooking, I have found, is something that both keeps me fed and gives me something to do and keep busy.  I actually enjoy concocting something that looks good but, especially, tastes good.  Believe me – I have a long way to go in learning how to cook so you won’t be getting any secrets from me for quite awhile.  I am finding, however, that cooking and baking is a satisfying and pleasant way to spend some quality time in healing and creating.  I like it.

Yesterday, I had lunch with my special friend Nehal.  She and her family just returned from three weeks of visiting her native India.  She was loaded with stories – of all kinds! – and is fun to talk with about her exploits.  She, more importantly, is a self-avowed cook.  She said to me, “I live to cook.”  Over the years, she has directed me to – among others –  Ina Garten, Giada De Laurentiis, and Sandra Lee for cooking tips and ideas.  She told me that I now need to follow Alton Brown and learn from some of his baking expertise.  I will give him a whirl.

Anyway, while visiting India, Nehal loaded up on some cooking goodies that she graciously passed on to me at lunch.  How cool is that?  We spent most of our meal talking about the items that she had brought back for me.  (Click on the photo above to get a better look at the haul.)  Just knowing Nehal is cause enough to learn to enjoy Indian cooking and cuisine – we have together hit several outstanding local Indian restaurants over the years.  She knows what to order, how to eat it, and what to avoid.  Not only is our dining tasty but it is also always quite a lesson in Indian culture and cuisine.

2013-02-04 20.47.08-2(Wait a minute!  My mini-loaf is ready.  Ah.  Doesn’t it look good?  I am so excited.)

So, let me see if I can remember what she told me about her Indian goods.

Beginning with the ‘Everest Chicken Masala‘ in the center top – a small box of coriander, chili, cumin, black pepper, garlic, ginger, nutmeg, cardamom, turmeric, and several more spices.  Marinate some chicken in chili powder, ginger, turmeric powder, and salt for about an hour.  Prepare some oil, chopped onions, green chilies, ginger-garlic paste, coriander, and the masala mix.  Add the chicken to the mixture with tomatoes.  Serve with rice.

Going clockwise to the right – ‘Biryani Pulav Masala’.  A small box of cumin, coriander, tuj, black pepper, chili, cardamom, clove leaves, mace, nutmeg, and other spices.  Take one small piece of ginger, two big tomatoes, some garlic sticks, chopped onions, and grind it all to paste. Take some ghee, heat it, and add boiled vegetables like cauliflower, french beans, carrots, and green peas.  Add salt, chili powder, turmeric, and some of the masala mix.  Fry for 5 minutes along with the paste.  Cook rice and the mixture until done.

Next clockwise is the ‘Tea Masala’.  This is, of course, a bag of ingredients that can be brewed up as tea.  It has in it ginger, black pepper, cinnamon, mace, cardamom, nutmeg, and other spices.  Some call this ‘masala chai‘ – I am excited to try this tea out because I very much like chai teas from various countries.

More of these tomorrow but, suffice it to say, this will be fun.  Thanks, Nehal.  Really.  This is very special.  And colorful.  And tasty.


–  Spend some time learning how to cook – learn the essence of sharing and creating tasty and colorful foods and drinks that will contribute to excellent table fellowship.

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