We all need nourishment but how we nourish ourselves is an individual thing. I share a birthday with a notable chef and as we exchanged celebratory wishes this past weekend I told him that I was having a group of friends for dinner at my home. Knowing firsthand what it takes to feed a crowd he asked, “Why aren’t people cooking for you?” My reply, “It makes me happy to create and nourish. Or maybe I am just a control freak!” But seriously, cooking for others is very much the way I self nourish. I start by perusing through cookbooks. This time it was The Longevity Kitchen by my dear friend, colleague and Weekly Yum partner in crime Rebecca Katz, Brassicas by Laura B Russell and Weeknight Wonders by pal Ellie Krieger. These women move me and their recipes (together with photographs) get my creative juices going. Truth be told, I don’t follow culinary instructions, I simply seek inspiration from those that I admire, stock my house with super alive ingredients like micro greens from Good Water Farms and Carissa’s Breads (among many other things) then “let my hair down” in the kitchen. Oh, and I can’t forget the music, because literally (as I will happily admit), I dance while I cook.
After three hours of immersing myself in color, texture and flavor, my multilayered meal was born and this was the menu:
- Cheese platter with fig jam, crackers and shaved fennel
- Dollups of Yum as per Rebecca Katz served with Carissa’s Bread but my version included micro basil pesto; roasted pepper, tomato garlic “butter”; and cilantro, curry white bean hummus
- Kale and Sweet Potato Sauté a la Laura B Russell but I spiced it up a bit with chipotle, layered it on a corn tortilla and sprinkled homemade goat cheese ricotta on top before I toasted it to a crisp
- Micro green salad with roasted pine nuts and citrus vinaigrette
- Minted Lentil Tabouli
- Black Rice
- Baked Tilefish with Tomatillo Salsa
- Berries with Homemade Whipped Cream
My dear friends arrived to celebrate and get nourished. And while I watched them eat, I felt even more fulfilled. Yes, I was exhausted and didn’t sit down for more than a few minutes here and there but I truly enjoyed every minute of the prep, cooking, eating and cleaning. Call me crazy…
There are many more things in life that feed my soul including exercise, quality time alone or with the people I love (including my dog) and writing, but giving to others in the form of anything edible is central to my heart staying content. For me, cooking for pleasure is like that massage that rejuvenates from head to toe.
So, what nurtures you? As life has many moving parts, we all have a choice. We can get caught in the merry go round or we can hop off once and a while to drink in life as my friend says. And when you take that sip, understanding where your nourishment comes from, what you need and how you can nourish yourself and others can lead to fulfillment.
(As a side note, when I cook for pleasure I never record recipes so sadly I don’t have any instructions to offer)