Charlene is a journey of mindful health and self-care
Posted on 02/02/2014 @ 4:17 PM
Here’s a way to add even more depth and subtle layers of pleasure to eating a meal. And this foodie is all for that! It is by mindfully preparing the meal. While preparing a basic stir-fry recipe, I decided to apply the same recommendation that Am I Hungry? (www.AmIHungry.com) offers for eating a meal…to do so with intention and attention.
I took a moment to really see the incredible bounty before me…the lovely vibrant colors, and textures gathered together from so many different parts of the country and even the world, right here on my kitchen counter:
• the pale, smooth texture of the chicken breasts
• the fun shape and vibrant orange of the carrots with their beautiful wispy green tops (like cartoon hair)
• the interesting way that celery grows in umbels (I picked that word up somewhere along the way)
• the lively green and red of the bell peppers (which reminded me of the day my mother surprised me with the gardening detail that a red pepper is simply a ripened green one)
• the somewhat unattractive yet much loved onion (what would we do without them?)
• the onion’s similar smaller companion, garlic
• water chestnuts (one of the things I love about stir-fries is the opportunity to bite down on water chestnuts…they are so cool, aren’t they?)
• the lovely greens of broccoli, pea pods, and spinach
• soy sauce (I love to say, “soy sauce” 3 times really fast)
• fresh ginger, now that’s an interesting shape and texture, and oh so fragrant
• chicken stock, red pepper flakes, cornstarch and rice…(I’m so glad someone took the time to grow, prepare and package those for me)
As I reached for the knife to chop these wonderful ingredients, I reminisced about the day my mother gave me this set of knives as a gift. We had shared many hours cooking together throughout my childhood and it was an acknowledgment of my growth as a teenager and home cook. It is worn now with years of sharpening, but treasured more than ever!
I listened to the various sounds as I chopped, the crack then thump as my knife slid through the carrots, the crackling of the celery fibers, the sound of moisture as I slice the onion, and the sharp thud as I smashed the garlic clove.
I noticed and paid attention to the many fragrances, the earthy smell of rice as I poured it into the water (which triggers childhood memories of terrain vehicle rides through geometrical rice paddies on my uncle and aunt’s land in Arkansas), the candy-like aroma of carrots, the scent of peppers that stimulate my attention and perk me up, the onion that can’t be trusted (will it make me cry?), that fresh-from-the-garden smell of pea pods, and ginger…oh my!
Then I noticed the mosaic of shapes and sizes of prepared vegetables, carrot and water chestnut coins, rectangular pieces of peppers and onions, the unique shape of celery cut on the diagonal, flowerets of broccoli, and the slight crescents of pea pods.
I continued the sensory experience as it cooked…the sizzling of the ingredients in the hot oiled pan, the blending of aromas, the relaxing and softening of the hard vegetables, the brightening of broccoli, the just-right crispness of the pea pods, the very slight wilting of the spinach, the magical thickening of the sauce by the cornstarch.
As I placed servings on plates for my husband and me, I cherished the half-hour journey that I’d been on…sights, sounds, smells, textures, memories and joy. And I hadn’t even taken my first mindful bite!