Kitchen Rage

There’s something centring about the act of cooking. Put it down to my churchly vocation, but I’ve long imagined the preparation of food as a contemplative act — there is a spiritual calm that comes with it. Whatever the day has held, an hour at the kitchen bench brings me home. As I dice, sauté…

Writing about food: celebrating the trivial

I am a glutton for good food writing. At its best it can transport me to far-away tables, tempt me with new tastes, prod my memories of heritage and family, confront prejudices and sharpen my sense of justice. With nothing but words, my imagination is fed and my living is challenged. I am richer for…

Lemon tea cake

There were lemons in the Garden of Eden. I’m sure of it. To imagine a place of perfection without these yellow jewels of acidity is impossible. Though northern India claims its origin, the lemon has been regarded the most significant fruit in Middle Eastern and European cuisines for centuries. And for good reason. In the…

Cooking and Writing

Cooking and writing. They’re the two activities I gravitate to if time is spare; the two things, frankly, I would rather do than most anything else. Yet they are different, so counter in process and reward. The fact is, I can’t do both at the same time. And therein lies the distinctive magic of each….

How to cook like a man

A few years back I read Daniel Duane’s book How to Cook Like a Man. I was intrigued by the title. The truth is, as I look back, the cooks I have most respected are women. While their gifts and technical skills were often admirable, what I came to value was their innate understanding of…

Fruit cake … with plums

I have a thing for apricots. Dried. Every week I buy a bagful from fruit-n-nut-man at the market. They’re not those dry, inedible nuggets you get in sealed plastic at Woolies. These are large, moist, succulent. I love them. A few weeks back I arrived at the stall to collect my stash. Fruit-n-nut-man smiled, looking…

Stephanie’s obsession

‘He’s obsessed!’ I heard a friend of mine described that way recently, behind his back. It’s a powerful tag. Most often it infers dysfunction. Proponents of that holy grail — work-life balance — paint obsession a failing, a roadblock in the pursuit of health and wholeness. But I do wonder, does obsession deserve a little more credit? I am…

A ‘grace’ from the Hindu tradition

As thou has set the moon in the sky to be the poor man’s lantern, so let thy light shine in my dark life and lighten my path; as the rice is sown in the water and brings forth grain in great abundance, so let thy word be sown in our midst that the harvest…

A ‘grace’ from the Inuit people

The lands around my dwelling Are more beautiful From the day When it is given me to see Faces I have never seen before. All is more beautiful, All is more beautiful, And life is thankfulness. These guests of mine make my house grand. The Eskimo people of Northern Canada and Alaska are known as…

A ‘grace’ from Chief Dan George

The beauty of the trees, the softness of the air, the fragrance of the grass,   speaks to me. The summit of the mountain, the thunder of the sky, the rhythm of the sea,   speaks to me. The strength of the fire, the taste of salmon, the trail of the sun, and the life…

A ‘grace’ from Walter Rauschenbusch

A circle of friends is a blessed thing. Sweet is the breaking of bread with friends. For the honour of their presence at our board We are deeply grateful, Lord. Thanks be to Thee for friendship shared, Thanks be to Thee for food prepared. Bless Thou the cup; bless Thou the bread; Thy blessing rest…

A ‘grace’ from Robert Louis Stevenson

Lord, behold our family here assembled. We thank thee for this place in which we dwell, for the love that unites us, for the peace accorded us this day, for the health, the work, the food, for the bright skies that make our lives delight, and for our friends in all parts of the earth….

A ‘grace’ from Pakistan

God, we thank you for all your gifts. This day, this night, these fruits, these flowers, these trees, these waters— with all these treasures you have endowed us. The heat of the sun, the light of the moon, the songs of the birds and the coolness of the breeze, the green, green grass like a…

A ‘grace’ from the Dead Sea Scrolls

Author of my wellbeing, source of knowledge, fount of holiness, height of glory, all-mightiness of eternal splendour! I shall choose that which he shall have taught me and I shall rejoice in that which he shall have appointed unto me. When I put forth my hands and feet, I shall bless his name; when I…

A ‘grace’ from Julian of Norwich

Be a gardener, dig a ditch, toil and sweat, and turn the earth upside down and seek the deepness and water the plants in time. Continue this labour and make sweet floods to run and noble and abundant fruits to spring. Take this food and drink and carry it to God as your true worship….

Recipe for Psalm 23

In one of Cameron Semmens’ many delightful books of poetry, Love is the New Black, he offers twenty-three versions of Psalm 23. This one is in the form of a recipe and does my heart good today. INGREDIENTS 1 LORD — in shepherd form. 1 LAMB — in human form. 3 PASTURES — preferably green 1 BODY…

Comfort food #8: Jelly slice

The communion table brings comfort. No matter what flavour our Christian faith — Anglican, Baptist, Catholic or some other— the table at the centre of our churches is a heady reminder of the grace that colours our lives. As often as we meet there to break bread, we rediscover our connections to God and each…

Chicken stock

  Begin, rinsing foods we do not eat: onion skin, broccoli stems, parsley stalks. They drown factually, cooking: unreal green. I push a chicken’s carcass underneath [simmer gently, for clearer juice]; the long neck-bit, the giblets. Peppercorns, whole. A clove, or two. Not grey, but a weak winter-field-gold is what I aim for; like when…

Comfort food #7: Leek and asparagus tart

Let’s be honest. The pursuit of comfort is no fast track to virtue. In fact, there are moments when it’s more like a detour into decadence  — think a tub of Ben and Jerry’s, a block of Lindt chocolate, or a large bag of salt and vinegar chips munched down in front of the TV….

Comfort food #6: Ricciarelli

The taste of comfort travels. Most commonly it’s found in close proximity. Comfort is the taste of home, family and a culture that’s familiar. Sometimes, though, comfort comes from places far away — the tastes of beautiful places that have, momentarily, nurtured our souls. It’s the comfort of memory. I confess that in this season of…