Wash, chop, sift and stir. Think only of washing, chopping, sifting and stirring. Breathe and be mindful of each slice of the knife, of each swirl of the spoon, of the magical process of cooking.
There are certain books that are such a part of one's life, that it's hard to believe that not everyone knows about them. In fact, when I sat down to write this blog post, I found it unbelievable that I have never mentioned this book to you before. 3 Bowls: Vegetarian Recipes from an American Zen Buddhist Monastery was published in 2000 and written by Seppo Ed Farrey. I bought it soon after, and have been cooking with it ever since.
Farrey is an ordained Rinzai Zen Buddhist monk and was the head chef for Dai Bosatsu Zendo in the Catskills of New York when he wrote the book. With co-author Myochi Nancy O'Hara, Farrey mixed recipes along with messages of mindful cooking, and information about Zen monasteries and their practices around food.
At first glance, 3 Bowls comes across as a slightly hippie, stuck-in-the-seventies, type of vegetarian cookbook. There are recipes such as a Quinoa-Mushroom Nut Loaf which is to be served with Nondairy Mashed Potatoes. But delve a bit deeper into the book and you find the basis for Japanese rustic cooking that has taken me a long way in the kitchen.
One of my favorite recipes from the book is a dressing that is so easy, it's almost embarrassing when people make a fuss over it. My friend Tara once mentioned on her blog that the dressing is "the kind that makes you want to lick the bowl." I had to laugh as I left the recipe in the comments: it involves one part water, one part soy sauce, one part sesame oil, and one part rice vinegar. Then I put it in a jar and shake it up. She's right -- it's an addictive flavor that I use on a constant basis.