On Sunday nights, I usually like to make a big pot of something delicious that I can dip into throughout the week. Last Sunday I made a Wild and Brown Rice Pilaf with Butternut Squash and Cranberries. I'm posting about it for two reasons. One is because it seems like a very Thanksgiving friendly dish, especially for vegetarians. The second reason, is that even though this dish turned out very good, through no fault of its own it wasn't satisfying to me. I was thinking about this dish and realized that it was indicative of how I view cooking and my enjoyment of food.
Often, I unwittingly do a lot of preparation before I cook anything. I read food blogs and do my shopping at a variety of places based on where the best of a particular item can be found. But it is the cooking itself is what I most look forward to. After a long day, it's nice to shift the mental clutter aside and focus on the simple and tangible details of making a meal. Many ashrams and yoga/spiritual centers have suggested guidelines for mealtime prep. There is the belief that emotions and energy of the cook will affect the food they make and even infuse it. There are some yoga retreats where the staff run through a few postures before cooking and some ashrams where the meals are prepared in contemplative silence.
This seems intuitive. Meals made with love and care have always tasted the best to me even if the preparation and ingredients are simple. The butternut squash pilaf I made on Sunday night was not satisfying to me to make or in some ways to eat. To backtrack, I feel like my weekend was spent eating as much food as possible; the cold weather throws all good intentions out the window. Saturday night, we went to Red Hook for our friend Annie's annual Thanksgiving for Friends dinner party. Sunday I had the best grilled cheese I've ever had at Ditch Plains and then later for dinner, Betsy made kale chips with roasted garlic, an amazing chicken and white bean soup and then cookie dough for dessert.
By the time it came for me to make the pilaf I was full and tired and it was late but I wanted to have something for lunch the next day. I quickly chopped up the ingredients and threw them in the pot and then read my book until it was ready. Taking it off the stove, I didn't even taste it but threw the pot on top of a pot holder in the refrigerator and went to bed. So while it turned out very delicious, it lacked that something, and tasted more like something bought at Whole Foods then something homemade. I will definitely make it again, with more care and attention and see if it tastes better.