I heard Robert Thurman talking about "changing the channel" this week, the idea that we have the power to choose what kind of person we'll be in any given situation. We can't control how other people act (the great sorrow of my life!) or what happens to us. But just like holding the remote control and switching from the news to the nature channel, we don't have to be victimized by external circumstances or even by our our emotions. With practice (especially the kind that meditation affords), we can click into another, more freeing space.
Being creative in the kitchen is one thing that helps me change the channel. I'm doing something with my hands, getting out of my head. I'm providing for my family and taking care of my body. And I'm in touch with this earth, with the soil, farmers, and producers that touched this food before it came to me.
A few others things that help me change the channel:
- Getting outside. This is number ONE. For many years now, I've tried to live by the mantra, "Go outside whenever possible."
- Going in my office, shutting the door, and sitting down for 5 minutes.
- Doing a small, satisfying home task, like sorting my ribbon bin or making the bed.
- Texting a friend and telling her I'm thinking about her.
- Making and sending a card.
- Brewing a cup of tea.
And for a big burst of texture and flavor, sprinkling dukkah on top of everything, which I've been doing for a few months. The London Plane puts dried rose petals in theirs, which you might try also. That's like going from standard picture to HD. Yum.
Makes 2/4 cups, which will go quick of you're anything like me. If your volume of cooking is less than mine (very likely!), you can store the excess in the freezer to maintain maximum freshness. And I wouldn't dream of getting my spices in any form but bulk. Infinitely cheaper and fresher than anything you'll find in a bottle.
1 cup nuts (I like hazelnuts, but almonds would be delicious, too)
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup coriander seeds
1/4 cup cumin seeds
1/4 cup caraway seeds
1/4 cup fennel seeds
1/4 cup black cumin (nigella)
1 teaspoon coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1. Toast nuts in a 350-degree F. oven until slightly browned. Usually takes about 10 minutes, but watch closely! If you're using hazelnuts, you can take the skins off after they're toasted by rubbing them in a clean dish towel.
2. Toast sesame, coriander, cumin, caraway, nigella, and fennel seeds in a hot, dry skillet for 3-4 minutes until you smell their fragrance and hear some popping sounds. Remove from heat immediately and let cool.
3. Combine toasted nuts and spices in a food processor and pulse. The mixture may be fine or coarse, depending on your preference. But don't overdo it or it will turn into a paste! You want it dry and crumbly. You can also chop your nuts separately and crush your spice in a mortal or pestle or spice grinder, and them combine then. Add coarse salt and fresh ground pepper to the finished mixture.
Related post on In Praise of Leftovers: Peanut Butter Hummus