Mindful Cooking Saves Lives


my Great Niece Annabelle

My favorite and rather frightening story about mindless cookery involves me and a cup of tea. I filled the tea kettle with water, placed the old fashioned kettle on the stove, and turned the burner to high. Then I added a couple pinches of Monkey Picked Oolong to the strainer in my favorite mug and left the room for just a minute to check email. Ok, I guess it was more than just a minute later when I wondered “what on earth is that smell? And why do things sound so funky?”

The smell was my smoking tea kettle melting most dramatically onto the burner of my stove. The funky sound came courtesy of my noise cancelling hearing aids – which cancel out annoying things like the screeching of smoke detectors. An extended bit of mindlessness while I attended to mostly junk mail nearly led to disaster. Yes, mindful cooking does save lives.

Mindfulness is focused attention, giving all your attention to what you are actually doing – right now.

Mindlessness, on the other hand, is performing a “right now” task (boiling water?) while you are really somewhere in the future (did I get that email from Mom?), or thinking about times past (oh, my new Great Niece Annabelle is so cute!).

Now, it’s true that a watched pot will boil most slowly indeed, but had I been in the room attending to more portable matters, I would have noticed the steam rising from the spout long before flames and smoke were required to gain my attention.

So I learned to slow down for cookery, to take a deliberate slow deep breath that signals to my brain that it’s time to sit a spell, and to focus on the task at hand – deciding what to cook.

Today, I am thinking about artichokes and their delicious little hearts. Should I go to the store and get them canned, jarred, frozen, or fresh? Canned, jarred, and frozen artichokes are sure convenient. Frozen baby artichokes do rock. They are one of my favorite frozen veggies and a great go-to on a work night.

On the other hand, I already have some chickpeas in the cabinet. So, let’s make hummus!

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