Have you ever experienced an habitual default in yourself anew, with beginner’s mind, as if you had stumbled upon it for the very first time?
Given that Russ & I enjoy a biscuit or two with our morning cuppa, and given my dislike of eating numbers in my food and the lack of true vitality in the packet variety, I decided to begin baking my own.
Not renowned for my biscuits ever before I found that when I racked my mind for a recipe only Anzacs came to the fore (my recipe books are still buried away as we finish building!). So without further ado, or any conscious ado at all, I have purchased the ‘necessary ingredients’ and I find myself adding golden syrup, brown sugar and white flour to the mix. I am not going to lie and say there were not delicious biscuits (isn’t it amazing the transformational power of cooking with love!); however, what was interesting to note was how a default pattern can temporarily erase conscious consideration.
While munching on a biscuit in contemplation I considered what I already knew: that golden syrup is a refined sweetener; brown sugar is also refined, albeit with a hint of molasses; and white flour besides refined could be many things – bleached and rancid among them. I was using unbleached stone-ground flour that I had milled myself, so off to a better start than most, yet why not use wholegrain, and why not some bio-dynamic spelt to boot. Then molasses instead of golden syrup – blackstrap molasses is, yes, also refined, but most of the sucrose is removed and unlike refined sugars it contains trace amounts of vitamins and minerals including calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, copper and iron; which is a similar story for our whole cane rapadura sugar that I replaced the brown sugar with. But I had hit my stride now and further into a new mix went organic pepitas, soaked chia seeds (so you can digest them better) and, if it were legal in Australia as it is in the USA and EU, I would have added some hemp seeds, rich in EFAs (essential fatty acids).
Mixing the ingredients together I suddenly felt, poignantly felt, how rich these ingredients were; how rich I was to be able to sieve them through my hands… Spirals brewing, fire flickering as I stirred the molasses into the butter and watched the intensity cresendo as the bicarb was added…Truly it was a moment of diving into the swirls of the universe; feeling so stirred myself in that miniature cauldron on the coals; feeling a deep connection to my ancestral lineage of woman who cooked by that flickering light… Perhaps it is worth considering the proposition shared by MD Carole Hungerford1 that the flickering of the fire induces relaxation in the conscious state, which may explain the achingly raw and unfulfilled hunger that lies under the gaze of those addicted to watching the flickering of their night time televisions…I am suddenly touched by a tinge of sadness – was it just a hint of bitter in the blackstrap molasses? Or was it sadness that so many of us won’t ever bake our own biscuits and eat an inferior processed product that ‘costs’ often less than making them; or so we are led to believe. It certainly is worthy of contemplation to consider what we are actually eating and receiving in each case. If you haven’t seen the movies Chocolat or Babette’s Feast, they are poignantly powerful illustrations of what nourishment can be found in the conscious kitchen and perhaps great testimony as to why the monastery cook was required to be a highly evolved being..
Lets wherever possible, begin by
•supporting fresh, local, bio-dynamic produce (food vitality is strongest if freshly harvested)
•sourcing fresh stone-ground flour (flour is often bleached and old/rancid)
•use rapadura sugar (whole cane sugar that still has trace amounts of vitamins and minerals)
•black-strap molasses (again, as above with trace minerals and vitamins)
•pepitas (high in zinc, manganese, iron, magnesium etc)
•soaked chia seeds (more easily absorbed by the body, also high in trace elements and omega 3)
Most importantly, always do your best to approach the kitchen with joy at your task and peace in your heart, for this will provide the most essential ingredient – spiritual nourishment… As Kahlil Gibran says in The Prophet “if you bake bread with indifference, you bake a bitter bread that feeds but half man’s hunger”.
•1 cup plain flour (I use either rye or spelt)
•1 cup rolled oats
•3/4 cup desiccated coconut
•1/2 cup pepitas
•2 tablespoons of chia seed (soaked for 15 mins)
•3/4 cup rapadura
(…and, if it were legal in Australia as it is in the USA and EU, I would have added 1/2 cup of hemp seeds)
Mix the above together and then melt together:
•2 tbls molasses
Then separately mix:
•1/2 tsp bicarb
•1 tbsp boiling water
Stir this into the melted butter and molasses over a low heat and then poor this into the main mix and bring together. Put spoonfuls of mixture onto a greased tray and flatten down with a fork leaving space between each biscuit. Bake in a slow oven (160º C.) for 15 mins or until just golden (longer or slightly hotter for crunchier biscuits). Cool on racks.
(literally in Japanese: ‘I humbly receive’. Said before eating it offers gratitude to all who have given of themselves.)
1See pg 409 in: Good Health in the 21st Century: a Family Doctor’s Unconventional Guide. Hungerford, C. (2009) Scribe Publications, Victoria, Australia.