Kichari on the Go! Ghee it, girrrrl… [recipe]

Most of you know how much I love good food — I geek out in produce aisles, I pause my entire day to make huge lunches for me and my family, and I spend most of my paychecks at co-ops and restaurants and never think twice about whether that farm-fresh butter is worth the price or if I’ll be ordering an appetizer at a new restaurant…

But cooking… Cooking! Dreamworld. If I’m living in a space with a kitchen (which, ha!, truth be told is a rarity in the last several months), I destress and delight myself as turmeric-stained fingers hold a chef’s knife and the fridge overfills with kale and beets, parsley and cilantro… I. Love. To. Cook.

One of the things I miss most about being ‘home’ is just that… The chopping, the experimenting, the feeling of sitting down before a meal that my hands helped to create (with the help of the divine of course, for providing the ingredients/the tools/the ideas… all of everything that ever was or ever will be, seriously).

But now? I’m traveling — in Israel — and I’ll be on the road at least another few weeks but most likely longer. So how can I get a cooking fix, nourish my body, and save on my budget while bouncing around hostels? Kitchari.

KITCHARI!!!! 

This is a staple food for yogis — Ayurvedic food for the soul — which is a perfect protein, is easy to make and to digest, and tastes delicious. It’s a warm porridge-like concoction filled with Ayurvedic spices to pacify the doshas (lord knows Vata gets a bit cray cray when you’re on the move like I am) and to create a nourishing healing space within the body and mind. And, let’s be real, it is something I can chow down on without guilt that doesn’t make my body feel disgusting after (because I’ve grown up. Done with that nonsense. I’m almost 30. I’ve had enough bread and nutella on my travels before to know the gut rot that comes from eating just cheap carbs and chocolate nut spread…).

So, here is my quick and easy kitchari recipe that you can make anywhere! If you need to, you could do this with one pot, one spoon, and a hotplate. (I hear Shiva Rae packs her tools in a suitcase so she can always get a kitchari fix.)

Quick and Easy Quinoa Kitchari Recipe

Two servings:
– Begin with equal parts quinoa and split mung beans (could use red lentils of regular lentils or whichever kind if you don’t have split mung beans — they are the easiest to digest however and don’t aggravate vata dosha as all other lentils/beans do). About 2/3 cup each, maybe more 😉

Combine quinoa and beans, and rinse thoroughly 3 times until water drains clear.

Add mixture to pot, add around 4 cups water, bring to boil stirring gently (I added some salt and some dried ginger to water — optional). Once it boils, cover and bring to low simmer and let cook until quinoa is soft (these mung beans will pretty much dissolve into the mixture, but if using other lentils make sure they’re very soft).

– As that cooks, heat 2-3 tbsp (or more) ghee in skillet/frying pan on medium high heat until it melts.
Add 1/2 tsp+ cumin seeds until they sizzle (don’t burn them).
Add 1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds.
Add 1/2 tsp mustard seeds.
Add 1+ tsp minced raw ginger.

Cook and blend about 1 minute.

Add 1/2 tsp turmeric powder.
Add 1/2 tsp curry powder.
Add 1/2 tsp coriander powder.
Add 1/4 tsp (or less) ground black pepper.

Stir and heat until thoroughly blended and set aside until quinoa/lentils are complete.

– Drain the quinoa/lentils, leaving some of the water.

Add quinoa/lentils to spice mixture and mix thoroughly.

Add pink salt/sea salt to taste, and add more ginger and black pepper as you like.

All done! Makes two pretty hearty portions.

Yummmmm…. 🙏🙏🙏🙏

Adjust the spice amounts as needed 😘

14876419_10154800487084101_461281029659216803_o

What is life? Firsthand insight into the life and death on the farm…

I just witnessed the giving of four lives — two rabbits and two roosters. It was powerful, peaceful, and intentional.

Everything is cyclical, and therefore where all things begin, all things must end. We’re given a life from the earth and then we’ll give our lives back to the earth. We animals have a heartbeat, and then breath… Then the heart stops beating and the breath ceases.

We’re all energy forms and we all require the sharing and exchanging of energy — humans give energy to the plants and to the animals, and in return the plants and animals give energy back to humans and to each other. The earth has its own natural energy forces — water, wind, air, soil, fire. Each of those are also powerful and purposeful. And oh so very beautiful. Without one element, none of this world can exist in harmony, with beauty.

We’re all one. And we’re all beautiful.

Watching what I witnessed this morning was incredible. Before the animals were killed, I made a morning round to visit all of the rabbits and chickens (the ones that had a potential for death), and I was conscious and aware of their actions. Maybe it was myself projecting calm thoughts toward the animals, but maybe it was an energy in the air. Something was different today.

The rabbits were much more calm, and seemed to move with more direction. The male rabbits were very focused on me. Houdini (the big macho male) was jumping from side to side — a little dance to beg for his life? (Maybe that’s my overthinking lol…) And then the rabbits in the pen were much less frantic than usual and I was even able to spend a few moments with some of them — one of which gave his life only minutes later. The chickens were also less aggressive.

There was almost an air of anticipation surrounding everyone — even us humans.

When the act took place it was done with intention and knowledge. Douwe knew what he was doing and was direct and purposeful in his actions. Two large chickens were collected. Douwe held the breast and body firmly with his left arm and body, and with his right hand he twisted the chickens neck and pulled the head clean off. Then he put the animal down on the ground and held it as still as he could. My tears started to flow. With tightly clenched hands protecting my heart I cried.

Then, Marie placed her hands on the animal and gave thanks for its life and let the world know the life was not given in vain — there was and is purpose for its life and we were/are grateful for the energy provided. …This was so beautiful.

The same was done with the other chicken, except the other chicken’s head did not come off directly and therefore a machete was used to ensure the neck was broken and the animal was dead.

Then, the large white rabbit I’d just been loving on was picked up, and with two strong hands, Douwe held the rabbit’s legs with one hand and the rabbit’s head with the other. From there, all he had to do was stretch the animal. Doing it this way separates the spinal column and breaks the neck. Then, the animal was laid on the ground with care and Marie placed her hands on the animal and pet the fur and gave blessings and words of gratitude.

This is where things got tough for me. The rabbit started flailing – almost as if it was running in mid-air… leaping. Hopping.

Instantly the tears flowed. I was bawling and sobbing and forgetting to breathe. I had to turn away and let it out. I didn’t want to make a scene or spread my energy to the others witnessing the act or even worse, to those who had to help take the lives… I turned away and walked to the edge of the stable area, covered my face with my hands, and cried. I let it all out. I was overwhelmed with emotion — gratitude, understanding, hope, strength, but also pain.

I know now, without doubt, that I will live my life without taking animal flesh. I can live my life fully, in good health and spirit, without eating an animal. These animals lived their lives in peace. They were taken care of with positive energies, by people who love and respect them, with food that is neither chemically treated nor unsustainable… But still, seeing the animal offer its life for us, when I know full well I (and all of us who choose to do so) can live without that energy, makes me realize that I do not want to take in the life of another breathing, sentient being.

But I’m grateful that I witnessed the giving of life. The respect that went into it, and the respect that will carry throughout the full process of cleaning, cooking, eating, and then in turn that will provide strength and more positive energy for this circle of life we live… Beauty.

…Then I went to the waterfall and cried, and gave thanks, and prayed for a blanket of love for all of the beings on this farm and throughout the world.

…Then I sent lots of love directly to Douwe and Marie.

…Then I came back to the house area, and straight to Douwe (who was boiling the birds and cleaning the rabbits) and hugged him as tight and powerfully as I could. I respect that man so very much. And I appreciate the strength and focus he has to do what he must, to provide for others on this farm, and to respect the animals and ourselves.

What a morning. And what a way to end 2012.

Jungle food

Today I really felt at home in the jungle. I was able to cook, and I ate some really yummy variations of the typical rice and beans Costa Rican diet.

Recently everyone has really been into cooking ‘dosa’ which is basically fermented rice and beans (2:1). This is a big deal and quite the treat for everyone living on the farm because you can turn dosa into a bread-like dough… and there isn’t bread here 🙂 No wheat or wheat products because wheat isn’t produced in Costa Rica.

all local. all the time.

I’ve learned how to make butter, kefir yogurt, kefir soda, dosa (of course), fried yuca patties (this was delicious last night), and twice-fried plantanos. This morning we made crepe-like dosa pancakes with dosa, milk, bananas, sugar, salt, and cinammon, with fresh papaya jam. Yum!

My computer is still out of service so for now I can’t blog as planned, but I’m still writing everything I’m learning and will blog when I can. So stay tuned 🙂

Cheese

  • Fresh cow milk. Heat to a light froth, then remove from heat and add a type of acid really slowly (stir and pour really slowly) — lemon or vinegar used here —  you must play around with this to get the right amount of milk/acid. In the jungle with kefir vinegar and milk, it’s about 6ish cups of milk to 1 cup kefir vinegar/lemon. If you’re using white vinegar, it’s much stronger than kefir vinegar and you will therefore need much less.
  • The curds will naturally separate from the whey as you stir. Scoop out the curds.
  • Hang curds in cheese cloth to naturally drain the remaining whey.
  • Add herbs or other flavors to the cheese.
  • Voila!

Kefir Yogurt

  • Mix live kefir grains with fresh cow milk (about 1 tbsp live grains to 1 liter of milk).
  • Let this mixture sit for 2 days.
  • Strain the kefir from yogurt. (Add fresh cow milk to kefir grains to restart yogurt process.)
  • Let the yogurt sit for a few hours.
  • Skim off all the whey from the top. Discard (or try to find something to do with whey!).
  • What’s left is fresh, pro-biotic, good-for-you, organic, and delicious yogurt!

Dosa

  • 2:1 white rice to garbanzo beans.
  • Soak in water for 1 day.
  • Grind the mixture really fine — almost like flour.
  • Stir and let ferment for three days.
  • Mix with whatever you would like (bananas/sugar/salt/milk for a sweet crepe-like consistency, salt/pepper, etc).
  • Fry, bake, add to bottom of casserole, etc