The Buddha, The Dharma, The Sangha

"Spiritual powers and their wondrous functioning--hauling water and carrying firewood." --Layman Pang, upon his realization

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Food and the dharma? Oh yes! Blogging about Alicia Silverstone, chocolate and my daughter's cooking blog, Butterfish after a brilliant quote from the Dalai Lama? Of Course! Somehow I don't think either Brennan, Alicia or the Dalai Lama would mind--"good company!", they might each think.
The dharma is everywhere and food, sustenance, has always been a gateway to human kind's myriad literal and symbolic spiritual experience. From the ordinary to the sublime, the raw and the cooked*, hunter and hunted, gatherer and gathered, our relationship to food is profoundly complex and creative, drawing on our most primal and exalted needs! Food IS dharma!
Depending on your state of mind this morning, you might be pondering what foods should accompany your body in your eventual death transition, or if you're just lightly groovin', you might be thinking of an In-And-Out Burger later in the day. Whatever the mind state today, such considerations involving food and its role in our lives is hardwired at our conception and intimately follows us to our final breath.
I have been considering death a lot lately, as well as food, chocolate in particular.
Buddhists tend to consider death, not in a morbid way, but simply as the reality of our living, as the dharma.
And chocolate?
Well, I can only speak for myself, but chocolate is truly one of Nature's most incredible inventions. Chocolate is part of my Triple Food Gem; tea, honey, chocolate.

But back to Butterfish and Alicia Silverstone.... is my daughter Brennan's cooking journal. She is a new cook, cooking with "Beginner's Mind"**, and her forays into the art of fine cuisine are charming, fun and informative. At her age, I was still opening a can of Cambell's soup and calling it dinner. Fortunately both she and her siblings understand not only the idea of higher vibrational foods, those foods that make the body sing, but they also have fun with food, they take joy in creating and sharing the process and end result. So Butterfish is a celebration! Please check it out.

And Alicia Silverstone? She's just published a book entitled The Kind Diet, a guide to a better relationship with food, vegetarian and vegan foods in particular. The Kind Diet is a great place to start if one is considering moving from a meat/dairy-based diet, and like me, you are, ummmm, Clueless as to where to begin. She writes with an easy style, presents facts and tips without sounding too scientific, and the recipes are simple and satisfying. Several of her recipes are available on line and here's one that pays homage to chocolate! With a little tweaking, you could substitute honey for some of the sweetener, and perhaps richly brewed black tea in place of the coffee, thus utilizing my Triple Food Gem idea, but try this recipe first. Yum.

Coffee Fudge Brownies

Makes 12 Brownies

3/4 C whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 C brown rise flour
1/2 C unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 C maple sugar
3/4 C soy or rice milk blend (or any nondairy milk)
3/4 C brewed decaf coffee
1/2 C canola oil
1/2 C walnuts toasted & chopped (optional)

11/2 C chocolate or carob chips
1/2 C Earth Balance butter

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Oil 8" or 9" square pan.
Sift together flours, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.
Stir in the sugar.
In a separate bowl, stir together the milk, coffee and oil. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir to mix well. Stir in the walnuts.
Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted the center of the pan comes out clean. Place the pan on a wire rack to coo.
Melt the chocolate chips and butter together in a double boiler until well combined and completely smooth. Pour the warm glaze over the cooled pan of brownies, smoothing it out over the surface. Chill in the refrigerator until the glaze has set, about an hour. Cut into squares and serve.

from The Kind Diet, by Alicia Silverstone

Make a batch, invite your friends over and put on the movie Clueless--what could be better on a cold winter Sunday!
* Props to Claude Levi-Strauss
**Props to Shunyatu Suzuki Roshi