Checkmate before breakfast

Plenty of time for an intellectual board game while cooking salmon. That sounds weird. Preparing something to eat, especially something as delicate as fish, usually doesn’t leave much room or head space to focus on anything else. However serving saumon confit for breakfast does free body and mind to dedicate attention to something else. That could be sexy. I mean chess.

An entire filet of about one kilo takes one and a half hour to cook. Theoretically it isn’t cooking. It’s confire. Which literally means preserving. This eldest conservation technique according to some, is done by inserting fruit, vegetables or meat in fat, oil or sugar syrop for a long time on low temperature. Today we no longer practice this medieval culinairy technique just to conserve. Like we no longer solely make love to produce babies. We do it to pleasure our senses. To capture our taste buds, merging delightfully with soft and pink fish flesh. Becoming one and complete in our mouth with the desire to feed ourselves.

The salmon filet we confit at a temperature as low as 70 Celsius. Hence the time for a game of chess. It’s drown in olive oil. Not ‘covered’, ‘generally sprinkled’ or ‘rubbed in’ with oil; the fish meat is immersed into a shallow bath of olive oil, just deep enough to completely succomb the pink, soft and slippery flesh. Size of the tray, weight of the filet and performance of the oven influence the confit time. It’s simple to determine though when the salmon is done. When white dots of congualated protein form at the outside of the flesh, the salmon is to be taken from the oven. Gently poor the warm olive oil over in a container to free the fish and stop the cooking process. Let the flesh breath and cool down. Please don’t cut the filet. Gently tear it apart. Preferably just with your fingers. And eat it. The sensation in the mouth, because of the super soft texture, the mellow buttery fullness, the sudden burst of deep and heavy pink flavor, are an honorable homage to and hopefully reminscent of what you actually did in bed while waiting for the salmon to cook.

From raw to liquid


Five years I’ve eaten predominantly raw food and 95% vegan. The remaining non vegan 5% is what I put in my mouth and digested of the food I prepare for my children, the love of my life and in the restaurant I worked. During the yoga teacher training in Nepal two years ago, dinners consisted of cooked instead of raw vegetables. Other then that I literally re-discovered my body and health thanks to a raw vegan diet. When I started it, due to a kidney cleanse cure I set myself to years ago while on holiday in Ibiza, I thought I’d lasted three months. The probation period extended into five years. But what we think, what we think we are able to and what we expect in general is not what this is about. 

When people ask me why I was on a raw vegan diet, I would say: ‘out of curiosity, to see how my body reacts to no animal protein at all’. The curiosity a result of twenty years of vegetarianism which would incessantly cause people to exclaim:’but what about your protein?’

Vegetarian and vegan diets are challenging for me in a weird way. Because the number one rule if it comes to food for me, is: ‘deliciousness, taste, satisfying the senses’. So why the heck do I not throw in everything? 

I like to prepare a fulfilling meal from nothing but left overs and random fridge content

I like minimialism, less is more

I like real authentic stuff as opposed to pretensions and decadence

After five challenging and fulfilling years, I change now. I’ve learned how much energy is saved when I do not have to digest dead food. I’ve proven to live without animal protein and according to people’s comments, look fantastic at the age of fifty while not eating animals, gluten or refined sugar.
Why do I change? Because I am no longer afraid to sit still, to let myself go do nothing for a while but being content, happily digesting dead food and nothing else: Wu Wei. Stream like liquid, no blockages, let love come.

Last night’s dahl:

150 gr Red lentils

1 patato

1 white onion

Vegetable stock cube

1 tsp. turmeric

1 tsp. cumin seeds

500 ml water

Cook 20 minutes

Add sliced zucchinni, black and green olives, any green leave vegetable or cabbage

Cook for another 5 minutes

Garnish with olive oil, pepper, salt to taste and 1/2 cubed avocado

This morning’s smoothies (2 recipes): 

With handheld stick blender:

Primero

1 banana 

1 tbsp peanutbutter

Particles of half a grapefruit + juice

Secondo

1/2 avocado

1 tbsp peanutbutter

150 ml oat milk

Tsp turmeric

2 dried apricots

Recipe For Simplicity

For quite a while now I didn’t post a recipe. Plus I realize that living in a town as opposed to the outskirts, impacts my daily grocery shopping. These two perceived realities makes me want to write in order to disentangle what’s going on in my life. 

1. In the city vegetables all look and taste the same. Chain supermarkets’ options are so bountyful that they dull the mind. Overexposed and overloaded my mind tries to shut down. ‘Maybe I will start wearing sunglasses in the supermarket’, I say to myself, simply to protect my senses, being at the verge of creating an allergy against whatever intake in general alluringly presents itself to me. Simplicity on show at the grocery shop around the corner where there’s tomatoes and canned peas attracts me more then having to decide between shitake and saffron infused arbolio rice, to name an example of meant to be seductive exotic promises of satisfaction.
2. I find out that my idea of prettywoman.recipes is not so much to mindfully set myself to come up with ‘my recipes’ as might be expected from a recipe blog. To me recipes and food are not just about spitting out lists of ingredients and writing down in exact detail what to do with the ingredients. Since a while, I crave simplicity: simple life, simple cooking, simple joy, simple chores. Maybe just because I want rest. Maybe it goes further then resting my bones. I read the Tao of Pooh. All I want is his Wu Wei and his ‘effortless action’. Let things evolve and develop from their core, no bending, no pointing, no trying. 

I wonder what is the recipe for simplicity. To not ask questions and just accept whatever presents itself? If I try to understand this, putting my logic mind to it, it strikes me how lazy, indifferent and weak acceptance seems to be as opposed to questioning, critisizing, resisting, pulling, pushing and fighting. We are taught not to accept. We are taught to fight for our lives, our jobs and our wants. Which actually strikes me as odd. The taoist and the buddhist lower their voices and turn inside. And what do we Westerners do? Why do we not simply allow, accept and adept?

 I wish to write a recipe for simplicity. My wish is not about the desire to make a recipe known to the world. I desire to write about something I love doing. Because writing increases the joy I derive from whatever it is I am doing. Whether this is cooking, making love or stumbling upon unrecognized beauty.

This PWR blog is a conjunction of the three: ingredients that melt into each other, blend, enforce and eventually transform into something new. Much like the yolks, lemon juice and butter of sauce Hollandais’ emulsification process. My first PWR blog said’pretty woman recipes is about my relationship with food’. It’s like a love affair. Pushing and pulling, adoration and frustration, caring and denial, to name some similarities. Where does that leave acceptance? 

What about your relationship with food? Mine is as complicated as a serious relationship. And sometimes my relationship with food is Extremely Complicated. Child of my time, woman of this world, my relationship with food contains many layers. Similar to the relationship with a partner or a family member which can be very complicated and contains many different layers. Imagine how food actually can or is used and abused by me to meet:
1. Having fun

2. Seek refuge and comfort 

3. Being fed up with

4. Craving companionship to distract from loneliness

5. Finding delight

6. Disengtangle from dependency and attachment through fasting and diet

7. Satisfy desire

8. Sustain mankind

9. Dedicate myself

Much like any other relationship however, the exclusive individualized choice, the variety of pleasing flavors, the promises of good health and happiness are so abundant, that giving up on food really is no option. Clever nature. We need to eat as much as we need to reproduce ourselves for mankind to survive. This might explain how our very nature can cause us to over-value food, adhering magnificent qualities to it. Similar to how we fall in love, over-valueing the significant other, adhering magnificent qualities to her/him. Weird enough in the case of falling in love our society is totally in awe. We adore falling in love and the resulting lack of sense of reality. But when people accidentally over value food, become addicted to either eating too much or abstaining too much, we judge them wrong.

Oh well I stop here.  The pebble is thrown in the pond. Merely to see how far it pushes the expanding perfect circles around, rippling. So far for simplicity…

Recipe for Therapy


Art can be therapeutic. Especially creating art. A dear friend of mine in Italy is in the course of becoming an art counselor. She is not advising on what works of art to purchase. She uses artistic expression as a form of therapy. I find that mindblowing and very natural at the same time.My friends used to tease me with my habit of ironing. I was not a housewife. Far from it. I’d spent my time working, socializing and leisurely. There was no such thing as interior decoration in my house and cleaning or laundry were chores hard to keep up with. But ironing was different. Ironing was my meditation. My friends found it funny and a little weird. 

Ten years have past and I am not so weird anymore. As if that’s possible. But my love for ironing is a memory belonging to a past reality. It has been overruled. Without realizing it, ironing has been overruled by cooking. It goes back far into my early teenage years, me practicising cooking. Especially the cooking for beloved ones. I feel like I free myself, the time I spend making pizza dough, preparing next days lunchboxes, rolling date balls, experimenting with confit de canard, pickling mushrooms and especially, en faisant l’art de la cuisine for the man I love. 

 The dynamics in making lunch for the man I love or while rolling date balls certainly go far beyond the simple purpose of feeding tummies. Be it my own or his or any of my beloved ones. Both the activity of combining the ingredients and the creative process beforehand consisting of selecting the different ingredients, even to be brutally honest, the step it takes to purchase the raw ingredients from my favorite Turkish shop here in Collingwood, all the single steps together form a process that lead to a wholesome feeling of completeness. Therapeutic. It saves and secures my physical and mental well being. 

Over to you. Let me take you by the hand.

Kafir lime and Goji berries date balls

2 cups pumpkin seeds, ground in a coffee grinder or roughly chopped with a knife

2 cups pitted dates (medjool or other dried but succulent specimen), finely chopped with a knife

1/3 cup gojiberries

2 kafir lime leaves, very finely cut

Zest of 1 orange

Juice of 1 orange

1/2 cup quick rolled oats

4 tbsp tahini

A dash of coarse salt

Combine well quick rolled oats, orange zest & orange juice, salt and kafir lime 

Add all other ingredients

Form a dough

Prepare a bowl with lukewarm water and storage container(s)

Scoop a quantity of dough measuring something between a cherry tomato and a golf ball and form a ball by rolling it between your hand palms. Possibly, when dough sticks to hands and fingers too much, wet your hands at intervals of rolling two or three balls. Continue until all dough is finished. This is the meditative part. Focus at scooping each time the same quantity of dough and at delivering really round balls. You do not even need to eat them in order to enjoy the satisfying feeling of accomplishment when your super healthy treat is done

Date balls can be stored in the fridge for up to three weeks

Purifying her


It’s much like purifying the gut by following a pure diet. A diet omitting the usual dead stuff. Intake is plant based, preferably raw. No usual suspects stimulating the body by fighting off harrasers like caffeine, sugar, gluten, carbonated sodium and nicotine. Body and gut can take it easy, relax. Sometimes I’ve even taken it one level higher. Adding a special kidney cleansing tea that I drank daily during six weeks. Twice I took a few days to shock treat my liver with a special liver cleanse cure. Emptying the mind is like purifying my brains. At times they become as spasmic as irritated bowels. And then they just need rest, no more input at all, brain diet time. 

From the series bring-me-down-to-earth
Pure with Peanuts

2 hands full sprouted mung beans

2 flat mushrooms, thinly sliced

2 hands full raw peanuts

zest of one lime

2 sprigs of spring onion

a handful of sliced papaya, preferably not too ripe

6 steamed Brussels sprouts (dead stuff)

in an empty glass jar mix 1 tablespoon tahini with 2 table spoons soy sauce, 2 table spoons vegetable oil, 1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes, shake like a cocktail shaker

mix well, eat with chop sticks

 

La Hollandaise


Born, having grown up in The Netherlands and cooking professionally the better part of my life, until very recently I never made or ordered sauce Hollandaise. Does an Italian ask for an American Pizza? Why did the French decide to call this rich and gourmande sauce, sauce Hollandaise? What do Dutch chicks have to do with the generous amount of egg yolks? The culinary world is fascinating. It’s basically just about feelings. Like our taste for music, for sex and for beauty. Personal preferences that are embedded in emotions, opinions and attachments. Lovely! I had to go Down Under to be properly introduced to sauce Hollandaise. Here in Melbourne an indispensable item if it comes to breakfast and poached eggs. The perfect recipe however I thank to Sheila from San Francisco. I like threads. This one circles from Amsterdam to Melbourne, to California. The reinvention of a recipe in this case involves a thermomix. Which might put you off just a little bit. Jammin’, shake it, mix it

Use the following order adding ingredients to a thermomixer

Juice of 1 lemon

4 egg yolks

300 gram melted butter, slightly cooled down (5 minutes)

Install thermomixer at 8 minutes, 70 C and 3.5 turning speed

Mixing the ingredients by hand in a pot au bain Marie, does lead to same.

If you want to season the sauce Hollandaise, do it just prior to serving. Salt will trash the eggs. Sauce can be served as cold or hot as you like.

Old to New – 1 January 2018 


Taking the old and worn, full of intense flavours. It’s sweetness gone stale; it’s texture trodden, sucked, torn. Take it, don’t throw it. Arouse it, water it, nurture it with new milky fluid, soft yellow yolk, spice it up with lemon zest and sugar. Baby Sugar Me as Lindsey De Paul sang in 1972:

Save me, save me

Baby, baby sugar me

Gotta get my candy free

Sugar me by day

Sugar me my baby, baby sugar me

Gotta get my candy free

Sugar me by day, sugar me by night

Sugar sugar sugar sugar sugar sugar sugar

It’s 10 am, first of January 2018. I find myself in the kitchen. The newest morning of the year. After the most worn out night of the foregone one. I am not fully aware of the symbolic thing I intuitively do. I like to loose my conscious mind in the kitchen. And just do it. Sometimes a bit frantic. Sometimes thoughtful and slow. It’s like making love. And that’s what it tastes like:
Muffin tray

Diary butter

The Italian pannetone that is still in the fridge/colorful box/back of a shelf

3 cups milk

2 eggs

1/3 cup sugar

Lemon zest of 1 lemon

Preheat the oven at 150 C

Mix eggs, milk, sugar and lemon zest in a bowl

Dice 4 cups of the pannetone – any kind of old bread or cake will do actually

Butter the individual muffin holes generously

Fill the holes with the diced pannetone

Poor the egg/milk mixture on top of it, spreading evenly

Press the diced cake down in the liquid

Take bits of butter and place them on top of each individual mixture

Place muffin tray in the preheated oven and immediately lower the temperature to 120-130 C

Set alarm for 1.5 hours, take it out, let it cool

Cut individual pain perdu’s loose and lift them cautiously out of muffin tray

Sprinkle with sugar / icing sugar / lemon zest

Garnish with fruit, cream, custard, cinnamon or nothing at all
Happy 365 Chances to New Beginnings. Just Don’t You Cut the Root!