theorems and corollaries contrived in the kitchen
I certainly expected to come away from the trip to Tahoma Zen monastery last week with a more solid sense of my own functioning and values. But what I did not expect from a routine centered around greater silence and personal reflection was an overwhelming gratitude for community. Collective puffy-eyed earlymornings and sniggering at resounding stomach gurgles during zazen combined with discussions about the parts of our lives that are just really confusing yet driving made me feel so… connected. And I suppose that is much of the point of Zen. Behind the obscuring wall that is our sense of ego and subjectivity is our true and equal place in the network of living and non-living things. Even as an unwavering introvert, it is when I see and feel a part of my community (nature, friends, town, country) that I truly feel like I am thriving.
Within that community at the monastery, though, I received a grudging reminder that the eating disorder recovery process is still present and a daily challenge even in unexpected places. Excited to contribute to the cook crew for one day, I seized a head chef role to show my enthusiasm for our time at Tahoma through a gorgeous and delicious meal. Dancing around the kitchen with my new friends for hours, I made two long braided whole wheat loaves of bread topped with black sesame seeds and a large batch of rice paper-wrapped spring rolls. The spring rolls were stuffed with colorful vegetables and tofu, arranged neatly on trays sprinkled with sesame seeds. Two sauces, a peanut and a ginger tamari sauce, accompanied the rolls. It was an absolute blast to prepare the meal! And yet, after the food was eaten and cleaned up, I noted dejectedly that it wasn’t just the joy of sharing the meal and cooking with friends that drove my kitchen dance. Those few days away from my own kitchen made me antsy, and I felt a driving need for restored control of my food. That is my biggest weakness in my still-healing relationship with food. I do not want to feel like my every meal needs to have come from my own hands and head. Sometimes I just want to be fed, to be nourished and taken care of by someone else. The trust will come. But, as I have been reminded of throughout this journey, recovery is a life-long road.
On that note, a dessert of serenity seems appropriate! I drank so much tea at the monastery that I felt as if my bones were infused with herbs. A gardener who visited also told me about a great tea combination of carob powder, oat straws, and nettles that is great for the digestion. Ahem, it certainly was!
A dairy-free, nutritious, all-around rockstar ice cream with a subtle green tea flavor. I used jasmine tea, which I highly recommend. An ice cream maker is not necessary, although it makes for the best texture.
1 c raw cashews, soaked overnight
2-3 bags green tea of choice, or 1-1½ tbsp loose leaf green tea*
1⅓ c milk of choice
2 tbsp liquid sweetener of choice (agave, honey, etc.)
2 tbsp other sweetener, or ½ tbsp stevia
¼ tsp vanilla extract
Optional: 1 tsp hemp powder
Optional: juiced spinach, for color
*If you are feeling adventurous, add some of the tea leaves to the ice cream mixture before blending for some extra kick.
Heat the milk until it is simmering hot and steep the tea in it for about 10-15 minutes. Jasmine tea really makes this recipe divine. Add the remaining ingredients and blend in a high speed blender until completely smooth. At this point if you have an ice cream machine, proceed according to the manufacturer’s instructions. If not, an empty quart-size yogurt container works wonderfully. Pour the cashew blend into the container and place in the freezer. Stir about every two hours or so, particularly after 4-6 hours when the ice cream reaches soft-serve consistency. Serve with a smile!