Chopping Meditation

by ihidemychocolate

I Love/Hate to Cook

I enjoyed cooking this weekend.  For the first time in a long time.  As a teen, when my disordered eating was at its zenith, I was obsessed with food and cooking and not eating.  I devoured Gourmet magazine and spent hours in the kitchen teaching myself to cook and concocting elaborate meals, which I did not enjoy eating.  In my 20’s, cooking became more social – a way to entertain with friends.  In my 30’s, part of my courtship with my husband was to cook together and try new recipes.  Truly fun.  And then the kids came.  I practiced survival cooking:  What can I cook when I get home from work that a majority of people in the family will eat that will not take too much time?  That was my criteria.  As a family, we have developed quite a repertoire of recipes, but it can get repetitive.  A luncheon visit from my cousin’s daughter prompted K to suggest Cold Sesame Noodles and inspired me to tackle it.

First, I remembered I’s delicious rendition and looked at about 10 recipes on Epicurious to try to find it.  None of them were exactly as I remembered from her version and none were exactly what I was envisioning.  So, using 2-3 recipes as a general guideline, and my memory of I’s version, I developed my own. 

I started chopping the vegetables first thing Saturday morning.  This took me 30 minutes.  I do not have particularly good knife skills, as T points out regularly.  As I was cursing the tediousness, I decided to stop, take a breath, and change my thought pattern.  This is going to be delicious.  Carefully chopping the vegetables that I have chosen to be in this dish is part of what is going to make it delicious.  I had nothing else I had to do for 30 minutes, so I decided to just enjoy the chopping.  Chopping Meditation. 

Then I put together the dressing in a loose way.  Oh, it’s too thin, add peanut butter.   I forgot ginger – better add ginger!  I mixed the vegetables and the dressing together and then went to assist C in teaching her yoga class. 

When I got home, K had arrived and the socializing had begun.  Everything was ready except for the pasta, so I boiled the noodles and mixed it all together.  I had decided not to agonize over the pros and cons of regular noodles vs healthier whole wheat noodles.  Regular it was.  The texture really is better, sigh.  Everyone ooh’ed and ah’ed, which admittedly is a big reason why cooking is enjoyable.  All in all, it was delicious and beautiful and healthy (in spite of non-whole wheat noodles) and is getting added as a permanent addition to our family food repertoire.

Room Temperature Sesame Noodles

Begin preparation several hours before you want to serve

30 minutes of meditative chopping

30 minutes of other stuff:  boiling water, cooking noodles, setting table, putting it all together

Ingredients

The Stuff

2-3 carrots

1 red bell pepper

1 cucumber

6 oz sugar snap peas

1 or 2 cooked chicken breasts (great way to use leftovers), about ½ lb

½ cup peanuts

½ cup cilantro

The Dressing

½ cup rice vinegar

½ cup olive oil

¼ cup soy sauce

¼ cup peanut butter (smooth, nothing fancy)

1-2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

1-2 tablespoons Sriracha hot chili sauce

1 tablespoon ginger, chopped fine

Salt to taste

1 lb pasta, cooked to taste, 11-13 minutes usually

(I used Barilla Thick Spaghetti.  Soba noodles or whole wheat noodles would add more fiber.  And, frankly, this is a good recipe for using whole wheat pasta because it is so flavorful!)

Process

  • Chop all the stuff ingredients into same size pieces – matchstick shape and size
  • Stir all the dressing ingredients together until the peanut butter dissolves and emulsifies
  • Taste the dressing and decide if you like it or if it needs more salt
  • Mix the stuff and the dressing together
  • Leave it on the kitchen counter and go away for at least 3 hours
  • Cook pasta
  • Stir in the pasta

Serves

4-6   dinner portions

6-8 lunch portions

Good as a leftover for a take-to-work-lunch

P.S. Don’t eat them cold.  The coldness dulls the flavor.  Room temperature is best.

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