Today was the perfect combination of friends, food and creative inspiration. I invited my friend Renee Barribeau and fellow author of PEARLS OF WISDOM, to come and teach us about connecting with our inner artist and how to bring creative energy to our daily lives. As a writer I definitely need help in that arena as all the mundane but inevitable realities of an active family can derail my writing goals faster than a mudslide in Malibu.
I thought I would share some photos and then (badda boom) a few recipes.
We all arrived with the flurry of our busy lives humming around us like persistent seagulls. I started a fire and Renee gathered us into sacred space to let go, if only for a few hours. “Give yourselves permission to be here right now,” Renee said. She called in the energies of the four winds of the four cardinal directions and spoke about their message and influence in our lives. Closing our eyes we asked our deepest inner selves which direction of the home we would like to exit to face the wind working in our lives right now, today. Each direction has a message, a gift and a shadow aspect. Becoming aware of the energies we need or seek can help guide us to greater awareness of what our souls are asking us to do, what ways we need to grow, right now.
I am looking forward to Renee’s upcoming book on this topic. She gave us a sneak peek today.
Next Renee laid out the rules of “Soul Cooking.” She asked the group, “Who are the excellent cooks?” The few hands that raised were designated team captains. We all counted off and found our teammates. Renee had us draw for the course we would be responsible for making for the group. Renee provided a bounty of fresh organic ingredients: cabbage, peppers, onions, limes, garlic, cilantro, chicken and shrimp as well as an assortment of condiments. Her only rules were that we must use what was available and every recipe must include avocado.
Since most of us (even the team captains) were creatures of habit or culinarily challenged in some way, Renee offered to do her own mini “iron chef.” We each selected one ingredient from the pile for her to cook with. She also offered to demonstrate how to cook with any single ingredient if we got stuck.
The first half hour was a mele of anxiety and excitement as each team huddled and brainstormed what recipes they could put together. The pressure was intense. As the host, I was caught in an interesting dance between my own team and all the other teams desperately seeking supplies hidden in my foreign cabinets and drawers. Once each team was focused on a recipe, the energy immediately mellowed into a precision operation. Thankfully, my kitchen is spacious enough to forgive the colliding elbows and backs as we tangoed for the peelers and serving bowls.
My team drew a soup entree. We soon realized we had no broth so Renee helped us create a “clean broth” out of fresh vegetables. In a pot of water, add celery, carrot, onion, mushroom, apple (for sweetness) and I can’t remember what else but those were the basics. With my presence constantly called out to the other groups it took us a bit longer to decide on a recipe to pursue. By the time we had selected one (avocado soup with shrimp), the shrimp were already taken for ceviche in another group. We had to think very quickly as time was running out. What was left? Chicken. Okay. What kind of avocado soup has chicken? Chicken Tortilla soup with avocado garnish! Renee also added a salad to our assignment. We grabbed “Live Raw” by Mimi Kirk and put together a “Cold Noodle Salad” to go with our soup.
As we neared our scheduled lunch time most of the groups were finished but our soup had just barely started boiling. We noticed the anxiety of not being ready, not being prepared and letting the others down. But under Renee’s experienced guidance, that quickly passed. “It’s fine. It’s fine.”
She instructed everyone to begin cleaning up. By the time all those pots and pans were washed and put away our soup was ready to share the table with the rest of the amazing dishes prepared.
I am not exaggerating even a little to say that every single dish was amazing. We all sat together and revelled in the wonderfully balanced and pleasing textures and flavors. The ceviche was sublime. The curry dish was worthy of any restaurant I’ve ever been to (and I’ve been to some Michelin rated joints). The most interesting and surprising delight was the avocado mousse for desert. Avocado, mango, pineapple, blood orange all blended in a Vitamix (of course) topped with blood orange slice and raspberry. Stunning finale to a marvelous day.
What most of us gained was not a few fantastic recipes, but the awareness of how to bring our eager artistic energies to any task and let her play, play, play. Some appreciated the time pressure and novelty to propel growth and learning. In the scope of four hours, we harnessed the power of Earth’s winds in our psyche, while channeling the creative inspiration inside our hearts and created a dazzling healing meal to share with treasured friends. What could be better?
How about you? What are you doing to step outside your comfort zone, get present with your own soul and take your life to the next level?
As promised, here are a couple of recipes. I will add more as I get them from the others:
COLD NOODLE SALAD (from Mimi Kirk’s cookbook Live Raw)
Use a spiralizer or a potato peeler to make noodles by peeling the zucchini into thin strips. They will look like flat fettuccini noodle. For either method, remove skin from the zucchini or leave it on, your choice.
Peel zucchini, cut in half, and spiralize (or peel). Place in bowl and sprinkle lightly with salt. Let the zucchini rest for 15 minutes. Break or cut into shorter lengths if desired.
2 scallions, choppped
1 small carrot, peeled and cut into thin diagonal pieces then into thin matchstick strips
4 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup Chinese snow peas, stem and string removed and chopped (we used snap peas)
1/2 cup bean sprouts (we used alfalfa sprouts)
2 tablespoons black sesame seeds
Pat zucchini dry and squeeze lightly with paper towl to remove excess liquid. Please all ingredients in a bowl, reserving the sesame seeds and 1/2 the scallions
For the dressing:
2 tablespoons sesame seed oil (not raw but you can make your own blending some seeds with olive oil and letting it rest for two weeks)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 clove garlic (minced)
1/2-1 teaspoon ginger, minced or grated
Dash of coconut aminos or tamari
1 tablespoon agave, or sweetener of your choice
Pinch of Himalayan sea salt
A pinch or so of chili pepper flakes
Place ll ingredients except olive oil into a small mixing bowl. Slowly add olive oil, whisking to emulsify. Taste for balance of seasonings and adjust to taste.
Squeeze the liquid from the zucchini and place all the salad ingredients in a bowl. Slowly mix in dressing until noodles are well coated.
Place in individual shallow serving bowls or large dinner plate. Mound in the center and sprinkle sesame seeds and chopped scallions on top of each portion. If there is any dressing left over, serve in small condiment dish on the side.
TIP: serve with a side of homemade hot pepper oil for those who like it spicy. Place oil in bottle and add dried hot chilies or chili flakes. The longer it sits, the spicier it gets.
TORTILLA SOUP WITH BLACK BEANS by Martha Stewart Home
We followed the recipe but we added chicken to the garlic and chili before adding the veggies and the homemade broth. We also used the extra zucchini cores from the salad so they would not go to waste.
If you enjoyed this post, please share. Sharing really is caring and helps me know that what I’m doing matters. Thank you!