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Cooking

A Soup for Any Occasion

Soup is a universal food; it takes various ingredients, spices, and water and marries them together. I asked a few friends for their favorite soup recipes and I share their recipes with you. My favorite soup memory is a pot of many vegetables, various beans, tomatoes and spices, simmering on top of a wood stove, in the dead of winter. The embers burned slowly within the stove to create a […]

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Japanese Cooking

New Year’s Eve is traditionally the time for new beginnings. Ideally, we should begin every moment of our life anew, experiencing each moment as a fresh start. While moving from 2000 (The Year of the Dragon) to 2001 (The Year of the Snake), we spent the day preparing a traditional Japanese New Year’s feast. Three very special Japanese friends, Sachiko, Tomiko and June, came together to cook the dishes that

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A Day in the Life of Tofu

I have a real fascination for tofu, it is a great, versatile food. For a brief (and I stress brief) moment, I even thought of preparing it from scratch, then it would be available whenever I needed it. I don’t know when I first discovered tofu. It was probably many years ago, floating free in a humble bowl of miso soup. But since our first acquaintance, we have been growing

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Veggie Burgers

The painter, Maurice de Vlaminck, once remarked, “Good painting is like good cooking; it can be tasted, but not explained.” In the same way, when cooking, rather than following a recipe to the letter, by letting it be a guide it can transform itself in its own unique way. I love to simply read recipes; often I never make them, but sometimes—a fragrance or subtle touch of spice—bookmarks itself and

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Summer Tomatoes

“It’s difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato.” —Lewis Grizzard Our summer gardens have transformed themselves throughout the years of my life, going from acres of land to a single, humble tomato plant. Whatever is growing at the moment is a joy to behold, whether it is a tiny seed or a vegetable or herb plant. I must say I enjoy observing the simple miracle

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Stuffing the Pita

During the summer of 1970, I found myself working on a Kibbutz in Southern Israel, about five kilometers from the Gaza Strip. After a grueling day (that began at 5:00 a.m.) of weeding acres of green pepper and hauling bails of hay, I often spent the evenings sitting alone on a mound of sand staring out into the desert dusk. As the sunset colors splashed across the wide horizon, the

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Spring Lightness

One winter I had an interesting experience. I fractured my ankle and spent two months healing. Each afternoon I needed to rest and would sit on the couch looking out into the garden, as light streamed in through the back windows a small blackbird with a long tapered tail came by to visit—he came out the same time every day and sat on a post. Once in a while his

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Spice Mixture

Spices represent the heart of the kitchen, giving life to the blank canvas that begins each new recipe. Spices also play an important role in maintaining health. For example, ginger and cumin aid digestion; turmeric acts as one of nature’s most powerful cleansers. I have often made my own spices by simply dry-roasting cumin seeds and pounding them in my well-worn stone mortar-and-pestle until it becomes fragrant cumin powder. I

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South Indian Thali

There are a few special businesses in India that have become institutions. The South Indian restaurant and hotel chain Dasaprakash is one of them. During many excursions to the South Indian port city of Chenni (Madras), we often heard about this special restaurant, but never made it there. After many years, on a trip to the Southern Los Angeles area of “little India,” we finally arrived. After a few initial

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Saturday Market Morning

On a winter morning in northern San Diego county, while the temperature still lingered in the high 60s and low 70s, and the sun was strong and bright, I visited the Vista Farmer’s Market. There, I found the usual organic lettuce and cucumber vender along with the ancient husband and wife cactus team, the crusty bread and organic egg family, the lemon and lime lady with the infectious smile, the

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Quick and Simple

“In everything one does it is possible to foster and maintain a state of being which reflects our true destiny. When this possibility is actualized, the ordinary day is no longer ordinary. It can even become an adventure of the spirit.” — Karlfried Graf von Dürckheim I love the phrase “adventure of the spirit”—it can be as simple as peeling an onion and wiping the tears from one’s eyes. Since

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Mumbai Kitchen

For one week in June, 1999, we hosted Sri Ranjit Maharaj, a brother disciple of Nisargadatta Maharaj, in our home. We had never met him, but knew it would be a very special visit. He arrived with three dedicated people to assist him. Naleen, Laurence, and Ujjwala. Each had their specific duties. Naleen was Ranjit’s personal assistant, Laurence made garlands for the three daily bhajans and served him meals and

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Grandma’s Spreads

I had some extra time one Saturday in October and my mother and I went to the La Jolla (California) public library, a favorite haunt of mine. It is here that I’ve found many out-of-print books which have a collection of interesting artwork. As I was looking in my usual spot, in a bin by the door—my mother exclaimed with delight that she just found a book, the Ratner’s Meatless

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Distinctly Ordinary

One summer day I spent an afternoon going through some of the piles of books we have accumulated over the years. Somehow, the book The Training of the Zen Buddhist Monk, by Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki (originally published in 1934), caught my attention. The book opened to the section titled, “Life of Service,” and the following words jumped out at me: “To serve as a cook in the Zendo life means

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Dhal Day

A number of years ago we made Friday, “dhal day.” Dhal is the Indian term for legumes—the dried beans that come in many different sizes, colors, and shapes. Legumes form the protein powerhouse of Indian cuisine. How did “dhal day” begin? An Indian friend, who began helping us one day each week, always stayed for lunch. Since whoever finds their way to the Inner Directions office rarely leaves without a

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Bread and Soup

We are all familiar with the well-known maxim, “you are what you eat,” and we have all felt the ill effects of food not properly digested. Since the body-mind connection is an interdependent circle, supplying the body with simple, nourishing food makes life lighter and less encumbered; our attention is not diverted but focused and concentrated. We can also choose to bring a special dimension to the preparation and serving

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