Warm Lentils with Za'atar Breadcrumbs
and would you like to be a Kitchen Witch?
Happy almost Valentine’s Day!
I personally have zero plans except to hug all my friends as tightly as I can whether that is in person or via text and phone calls and then give myself a little extra attention. I invite you to do the same.
This week we have an excellent recipe for Warm Lentils with Za’atar Breadcrumbs inspired by my sister, Hannah’s request for something with Turkish/Lebanese flavors and sauce. So please feel free to spam me with vague or silly requests, I love them and sometimes they can stimulate creativity and lead to something special.
This week I took a pause on the senses series I announced last week because I want to share honestly and openly the struggle I am having with communicating my messages around cooking. I have some ideas for the future and I need feedback! Please do let me know your thoughts.
I am also sharing links to my in-person mini yoga and cooking retreats, calling for questions for my Open Kitchen advice column and finally if you scroll all the way to the bottom you can see a full video of the embodied cooking class from a couple of weeks ago. Read on and thank you all for being here. It means the world to me.
Lastly, if you want to support me in a small way following me on IG or TikTok or sharing this newsletter is a huge help. Thank you, I appreciate you!
From Embodied Cooking to Kitchen Witch?
I was planning to continue the exploration of the senses by exploring touch this week. But instead I want to put that on hold and ask you a simple question: does the term, embodied cooking make sense to you? My guess is, no. But please do share your feedback, I want to hear it.
From conversation and feedback I’ve received for the last few months I sense that Embodied Cooking is a pretty cerebral concept that simply isn’t resonating.
The transformative/healing power of cooking is at the core of my books, Good and Cheap and Good Enough and all the work I do. So I am doing a deep inquiry into how I can communicate that in the most clear and inviting way possible so you can join me on this journey.
I have always found that people who believe themselves to be bad cooks are attracted to me and my work and I believe I am meant to show them that this belief is an illusion! You can absolutely cook and feed your body in your unique life in the way that works for you. Our culture tells us from every angle that there is a right way to eat, cook and live. But this is a lie. There is only your way, and no matter what anyone else may say, what is right for you is all there is. I want to help you find your confidence in the kitchen so you can infuse your life with the power that is there.
And then I will watch you transform and cheer you on with tears in my eyes. I have seen it time and time again and it is magnificent. I want to help you release your anxieties around food and begin to see cooking as an everyday act that connects us with the divine within us and within everything.
I have been mulling how best to communicate all that goes into harnessing the power of cooking and food in our lives. And what I have come up with is:
The Kitchen Witch
Some Core Tenets of a Kitchen Witch:
* The kitchen witch does not cook to impress, she cooks to nourish herself and her community.
* The kitchen witch can make something out of whatever is around, she is practical and thrifty and respects the earth by using all she has and appreciating it.
* The kitchen witch is unbound by recipes, cultural norms and what other people may think of her.
* The Kitchen Witch takes pleasure in the simple acts of cooking, like noticing the soothing sounds of bubbling pot, the way the slippery egg feels as it slides out from its shell and the warm smells that fill the house. She revels in it all and uses it to power her through the rest of life.
* The Kitchen Witch sees cooking as a spiritual act. When we look at a tomato we can see the glory of the earth and the sun, but also industry, community and health. All the people who made this tomato possible. There is this divine magnificence we are interacting with that we don’t allow ourselves to notice when we are distracted or worried about time or getting it right. And of course that is okay. A kitchen witch knows she is not perfect.
Please tell me if this resonates and if it makes more sense than Embodied Cooking.
To be continued…
Join me for an In-Person Mini-Retreat!
The retreat we had on January 28th was nothing short of magical. We released stress and tension from our bodies with Hatha yoga, meditation and breathwork, I demonstrated Shakshuka and then we all ate together, chatted, laughed and shared openly. I continue to be so grateful to host this space for us to feel seen, safe and free. As attendees left hours later they were bubbling with ideas for future retreats.
Please come join me if you can!
The next retreat is this weekend February 18th. It will have a theme of self-love that we will explore together.
Starting an Advice/Acceptance Column: Open Kitchen. Call for submissions!
I want to start an advice column responding to queries and musings from you all about your experiences with cooking and food in particular, but also mental health, parenting and general life experience.
But to do this I need your help! Please write to me with anything you would like me to answer and I will, with your permission of course, print your letter (anonymously) and respond. We can all get to know each other and start a deeper conversation. Please respond directly to this or write to me at: email@example.com with subject line: Open Kitchen.
Warm Lentils with Za'atar breadcrumbs and Herbs
This recipe may seem complicated because it has a few components, and it is a little more involved than what I usually share here, but it all happens quite quickly if you can assemble all the ingredients. Most of the ingredients for me are kitchen staples, but if you don't keep tahini and za'atar you can always skip the sauce and keep the breadcrumbs plain and it will still be a lovely meal.
TL;DR: Toast the breadcrumbs and set aside. Sauté the vegetables and then cook lentils with water in the same pan. Shake up the sauce. Serve lentils with sauce and breadcrumbs and optional toppings.
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp butter
1 cup breadcrumbs
1-2 tsp za'atar e
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 pepper, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup green French lentils
3 cups vegetable stock
1/2 bunch of kale or other hearty greens, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/4 cup tahini
juice of 2 lemons
1 tsp maple syrup
1 tsp vinegar based hot sauce like Tobasco or something like green Cholula (optional)
salt, to taste
For the breadcrumbs: In a pan on medium heat warm the olive oil and butter. Add the breadcrumbs, za'atar and salt and spread them out into an even layer in the pan. Let them toast for 3 to 5 minutes until they have darkened in color, stirring a bit every 30 seconds or so to toast all sides. Let cool and set aside. You can keep these breadcrumbs in a sealed container for up to a month.
For the Lentils: In a pot or a skillet with tall sides, warm the olive oil on medium heat, then add the onion, pepper and carrot and cook for a minute or two before adding in the garlic. Sauté, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes until vegetables are softened but not yet browning. Add in the cumin seeds and cinnamon and stir and cook for another minute. Finally add in the lentils and vegetable stock and bring it up to a simmer. Then turn down the heat and cook for 25 minutes or until lentils are cooked and the water has mostly evaporated. Once the lentils are cooked stir in the kale or greens until wilted then remove from the heat to serve.
Tahini Sauce: While the lentils cook, simply combine all the sauce ingredients in a bowl and mix or in a jar and shake. Taste and adjust to your liking. I find this needs very little salt.
Assembly: Spoon the warm lentil mixture into bowls, drizzle with tahini sauce then sprinkle with a generous handful of breadcrumbs, and any of the optional toppings.
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For anyone curious about how my embodied cooking classes work, as I teach the specific recipe—in the video below I am making a chili with white beans and green chilies—I weave in techniques for calming the nervous system and grounding into the senses so that you can begin to change your relationship with cooking to one that is supportive of your life! These classes are especially for those who feel they do not like cooking or struggle with making the time and want to develop more ease. Classes go live at 12:30pm ET on Wednesdays. This week we will make the lentils with za’atar breadcrumbs I shared above!
I like embodied cooking but I also like words from your book title/subtitle like good enough, imperfect or self-care. Maybe mindful? I could get on board with kitchen witch if that’s what you choose but my mind doesn’t immediately make the connections with the definitions you provided. Or maybe just use your name?
As a former counseling student, I do like the concept of combining embodied awareness and cooking as a practice for being present and mindful. But I also get that the term "embodied cooking" may not resonate with everyone.
With "kitchen witch," I do love witchy things, but at the same time... I'm also starting to feel burned out on witchy things, if that makes sense. If people are connecting with that better, though, I'm all for it!