An Introduction to Culinary Self-Care by Susan Guillory


Food knowledge is not just trendy these days but a form of social, physical, and personal empowerment. My acupuncturist states that “food is your first medicine” as it gives one the nutrition essentials for health maintenance. In my next few blog offerings I am going to share with you some of my personal tips on changing your kitchen into a place of education, contemplation, and personal development.

Cooking is one of those arts that we either are born with the instinct to practice, or we develop over the years through family experiences or studies. The book that changed my life and sent me down the path toward a food oriented career was called You are what you eat.  Take a moment to ponder this question, “if we are not what we eat then what are we?”

Think of it this way—if we are what we eat then true self-knowledge can be based in cooking; you are literally re-creating yourself at each meal.  With this frame of mind, food preparation may no longer appear as a chore, but rather a mindfulness practice, through both the actual act of cooking as well as  the considerations that go into ingredient choices based on one’s own health needs.

The first step is to prepare your mind to enter the kitchen by clearing all negative thoughts and replacing them with feelings of joy and a purpose of nurturing health.

I would now like to take you on a culinary vacation to my birthplace of Louisiana and introduce two Cajun recipes that take advantage of the bounties of the end of the summer season.

“Maque Choux” or Cajun stewed corn and tomatoes
serves 6

6 ears of fresh corn
2 large or 4 medium tomatoes
1 medium green pepper
1 large onion, chopped well
2 Tbs. cooking oil
Cajun spices to taste
Salt to taste

Shuck corn and remove all silky strands, put in very large bowl and carefully cut kernels off of stalk. Afterwards take the back of the knife and scrape down the length of the corncob to remove the juices. Heat oil in large pan and add onions, cook and simmer for about 5 minutes. Chop the pepper and add to onions, cooking for another 2 minutes then adding and stirring in the corn and its juices. Crush or chop the tomatoes and add to the pan. Stew at low heat for about 20 minutes, add seasonings and serve hot or at room temperature. This can be made with frozen or canned corn and canned tomatoes in the winter.

 

Fried Green Tomatoes
serves 6

4 medium green tomatoes, fresh off the vine is great
½ cup chilled sparkling water
1 cup all-purpose flour, can be wheat or a gluten-free mix
1 cup cornmeal
Enough high-heat cooking oil to put 1 inch into frying pan
Salt and pepper to taste, or Cajun spices

Slice tomatoes in ½ inch disks. Mix water, flour, cornmeal, and seasonings in a mixing bowl. Preheat oil in frying pan until a few grains of salt rise rapidly to the surface (remember to never allow oil to smoke or burn, as  free radicals may be released). Put a few tomato slices into the flour mixture and make certain both sides are coated well. Spoon into hot oil, lower heat and cook until both sides are crispy. Best served hot. Can be kept warm in oven on a baking sheet on top of paper towels at 250 degrees.

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