A Welcome From Dor
I can argue for a role for food in just about any scenario: health, illness, mental illness, failed or successful marriages, armies that march on their stomachs, and the rise and fall of civilizations. But even I know it’s not just about the food. Our relationship with food and ability to digest it and turn it into who we are require time and honor. You don’t have to be experienced at meditation to call more mindfulness into the way you eat. You can select eating according to your intentions instead of your impulses. Even just two minutes dedicated to mindful eating can shift how you relate to food.
Dee and Stella’s Story: Latkes
As a frequent guest speaker at Suppers meetings, I get asked lots of questions, including many I don’t know the answer to. One of my favorites is how to start meditating. That came up at a lunch meeting in a busy office building. The members scrambled in, experienced a bunch of details for 50 minutes, and raced out to beat the clock. “Could you please teach us how to hurry up and relax?”
There were a few things wrong with the question, but I understood what they meant. We frequently do brief meditations at meetings, so I offered a classic mindfulness exercise.
(Try it at your own meeting. Provide a small bowl of raisins or sunflower seeds, and read this with a pause after each sentence.)
Please take a breath and let it go.
And just notice the feel of your body in your chair.
Just notice how your body moves as you breathe in. And out.
Now pass around the bowl of raisins.
Take a couple and place them in the palm of your hand.
Look at the raisins and notice how they feel in your palm.
And how they look.
Are they all the same?
Note the differences in color, texture, and form from one raisin to the next.
Now feel the raisins with the tips of your fingers.
Roll them between your fingers.
How do they feel?
Do they feel the same to your fingertips as to your palms?
If not, how are they different?
Bring your hand to your nose.
Smell the raisins.
How do they smell?
Do they remind you of anything?
Now close your eyes, and bring your hand to your mouth.
Gently place the raisins on your tongue and just notice how they feel.
Let your tongue move them around and notice how they feel between your tongue and the roof of your mouth.
Next notice how your mouth feels.
Does the presence of raisins make you salivate?
Let yourself now chew the raisins, over and over, with no intention to swallow them.
How does the taste change as you continue to chew?
Say to yourself the word “raisins” and let them slip down your throat.
When they fluttered their eyes open, one of the members, Stella, said she had never heard of eating mindfully before and that she’d like to try it after the holiday. Her downfall? Potato latkes. A recently diagnosed type 2 diabetic, she knew she had to learn to resist her favorite treats. “My father always said, the best form of exercise is pushing yourself away from the table. My mother didn’t agree. She was all for piling latkes on our plates. Dad could eat six and stop. Me, I’d have that many down before the sour cream even made it around to me.”
So Stella made herself a Suppers Experiment. She would make a batch of latkes, set the table for herself, and do the raisin meditation with a crispy, salty, warm potato latke.
“There is no way I’m giving up latkes,” said Stella. “But I will commune with six, instead of inhaling a dozen.”
Taking The “Potato” Out of the Potato Latke for Stella, By Allie
There’s this weird thing that only exists in America and, unlike a lot lot lot of weird things that only exist in America — this one may not be so desperately unhealthy.
It’s the Big Salad. (Do you guys watch Seinfeld? Remember when Elaine introduced the Big Salad? It’s a thing.) The non-elusive Big Salad can be found in many sit down restaurants and is often around the size of a pro-wrestler’s head. Assuming one can help out with cheese/fried chicken/dressing related situations, The Big Salad is pretty much a way of stuffing oneself with a gigantic pile of vegetables.
Aaaaaaaaand……..I’m having a problem with having a problem with that.
So when I was reading Stella’s story about being a Potato Latke monster not only did I empathize with that (cause potato + fried + sour cream = duh) but I also have spent many a Seder enjoying latkes made without potatoes. And they’re equally delicious. I’ll show you how.
Step One: Shred root vegetables of choice. Today we are using beets, green zucchini, and parsnip. Tip: for jobs requiring a lot of vegetables, use the shredding blade of your food processor and be done in seconds.
You’re not reduced to summer squash alone, although it is certainly not something I would leave out. Use any number of softish/crunchy vegetables (and use them in combinations) like:
Parsnips Carrots Beets Rutabaga Sweet Potato Peppers Your Choice!
Step Two: Place shredded zucchini in a colander and toss with a good pinch of salt. Place colander over a plate and let sit for at least one hour. Draining excess moisture from vegetables (especially zucchini/carrot) will help in the frying process and make those latkes nice and crispy!
Step Three: Mince onions, scallions, leeks, garlic, or any member of the allium family. In a large bowl, combine shredded, drained vegetables with minced onion, a pinch of sea salt, and lightly beaten eggs. Mixture should be coated entirely in eggs but not swimming in eggs (at all).
Step Four: This is the only time I will ever suggest this: it’s traditional (and makes a big flavor difference) to fry latkes in Olive Oil. I know. Olive oil has a sadly low smoke point (that point in which fat molecules are chemically altered from too much heat) and I would normally suggest something like coconut or vegetable oil for the fry. But not in this case. A proper fry oil temperature is no lower than 350.
Step Five: Make patties that fit the palm of your hand and begin to fry latkes. Fry around 4-5 minutes per side or until golden brown and cooked through. Top with sea salt while still wet from oil and set aside until they are all done. Serve immediately!
1 green zucchini, shredded
1 large beet, shredded
1 large parsnip, shredded
pinch sea salt
1 red onion, minced
4 eggs, lightly beaten
olive oil, for frying
toppings of your choice!
1. Place shredded vegetables in a colander placed over a plate and toss with a good pinch of sea salt. Let shredded vegetables sit at least 1 hour to drain as much moisture as possible. If you don’t have the hour, let them sit 20 minutes and then squeeze with hands over colander to drain.
2. In a large bowl, combine drained vegetables, minced onion, and eggs and mix until all vegetables are well coated with egg.
3. Add enough oil to generously coat the bottom of a large skillet and place over medium low heat.
3. Make palm sized patties from vegetable egg mixture and gently drop into hot oil. Fry 4-5 minutes per side or until golden brown and cooked through. *Sometimes I fry on both sides and then lower heat to low, allowing hearty root veggies like beets to cook through. Place fried patties on a paper towel and sprinkle with some sea salt to finish. Serve immediately with applesauce, sour cream, or a topping of your choice.