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“How not to suck at cooking” – Matt Frazier the No Meat Athlete

January 12, 2017

“There are now millions of people who spend more time watching food being cooked on television than they actually cooking it themselves” Michael Pollan – Cooked

Torah Portion (Parsha) Vayechi in a nutshell from

Jacob lives the final 17 years of his life in Egypt. Before his passing, he asks Joseph to take an oath that he will bury him in the Holy Land. He blesses Joseph’s two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, elevating them to the status of his own sons as progenitors of tribes within the nation of Israel.

The patriarch desires to reveal the end of days to his children, but is prevented from doing so.

Jacob blesses his sons, assigning to each his role as a tribe: Judah will produce leaders, legislators and kings; priests will come from Levi, scholars from Issachar, seafarers from Zebulun, schoolteachers from Simeon, soldiers from Gad, judges from Dan, olive-growers from Asher, and so on. Reuben is rebuked for “confusing his father’s marriage bed”; Simeon and Levi, for the massacre of Shechem and the plot against Joseph. Naphtali is granted the swiftness of a deer, Benjamin the ferociousness of a wolf, and Joseph is blessed with beauty and fertility.

A large funeral procession consisting of Jacob’s descendants, Pharaoh’s ministers, the leading citizens of Egypt and the Egyptian cavalry accompanies Jacob on his final journey to the Holy Land, where he is buried in the Machpelah Cave in Hebron.

Joseph, too, dies in Egypt, at the age of 110. He, too, instructs that his bones be taken out of Egypt and buried in the Holy Land, but this would come to pass only with the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt many years later. Before his passing, Joseph conveys to the Children of Israel the testament from which they will draw their hope and faith in the difficult years to come: “G‑d will surely remember you, and bring you up out of this land to the land of which He swore to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”

Without the assistance, advice, and inspiration of others, the gears of our mind grind to a halt, and we’re stuck with nowhere to go.” (from “Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers” by Timothy Ferriss)

I often get asked about all the cookbooks that I mention in my posts, why I buy all these cookbooks and where I get all the ideas for the food that we cook in our kitchen. In a recent podcast, I was listening to with the Flynn twins who have written the Happy Pear cookbooks. They were asked why write a cookbook. Their answer was, not for the recipes as they said you could find any recipe you wanted on the web, but for the ‘story…’ People want something more from a recipe book. What is this ‘story…’?

“In an ideal world, we’d all cook our food from scratch. But the reality is, for most of us, that doesn’t happen everyday” – Jackie Damboragia

There are many reasons why I love cookbooks, even though Loren is the main cook in the family:

  • Every cookbook or its author has their own story on how they got to be writing cookbooks:
    • Oh she glows – from Blogger to best-selling author;
    • Deliciously Ella – her path from sickness to health and beyond with a change of diet
    • The Happy Pear – Their story, their happy go lucky ways, simple recipes and their community involvement
  • Pictures tell a 1000 words – Yip we all love to see delicious looking food – This is inspiration to try something new (My photography and plating is not that good, but I am happy to try and learn)
  • Techniques – recipe books teach you techniques – I have learnt to cut Tofu in a million different ways, peel garlic in a bottle amongst other fine cooking skills. I’m reading this book and wanted to share this quote with you.

My goal is to learn things once and use them forever.” (from “Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers” by Timothy Ferriss)

  • Ingredients – I am always learning about new ingredients – There are products that have not been easy to find that are kosher or that are available in Australia, but always fun investigating – I remember searching for Agave syrup and steel cut oats several years ago! Health shops had never heard of steel cut oats? Now Uncle Toby’s make…

“…the time and expense looking for that rare Middle Eastern ingredient for an Ottolenghi recipe…” – Benjamin Law

  • Learning to cooks – recipes teach you to cook – Method and order, look sometimes the recipes are not that easy to follow, but it is all part of the process of trying to become a better cook.

in cooking, every breakthrough comes from making myriad mistakes – kind of like life…” – Benjamin Law

  • Substitutes – Loren and I love to substitute ingredients to make the healthier option – Often recipes do give substitutes, but sometime you need to investigate substitutes
  • Cooking at Home! – In a recent column in the Age newspaper by Benjamin Law titled “Home Cooking”, he talks about the arguments he has with his partner about home cooking. His partner would rather go out.. Benjamin provides some nice quotes on why he loves home cooking:

“Yet I love how cooking turns your kitchen into a domestic laboratory: Every day you get to perform a science experiment if you like”

“I love how cooking makes every cookbook a restaurant menu…”

I love how cooking – unlike most of my professional work – affords me almost instant gratification”

  • #LoveHealthyEating – In a recent Column[i] by Theresa Cutter (The Healthy Chef) – She says “The Key to healthier eating is to keep it simple and make it yourself”
  • Eating good, tasty food – I am sure many of us have read the story of the Potato Man, Andrew Taylor and his decision to eat only potatoes for a year. His story is amazing and what he has achieved is unbelievable, but in a recent article he made the following statement that I am not sure that I agree with – “I’ve got a saying now: Make your food boring and your life interesting” Why can’t both your life and the food that you eat be interesting?
  • #FamilyTime – Nothing better than searching a recipe book for an idea, going shopping for the ingredients and then spending time with Loren in the kitchen or seeing #KaylaGoesCoconuts enthusiasm to make and photograph something that we have made
  • Social Media – There is the excitement of posting a successful dish on social media and getting a response or re-post from the author and getting recipe requests from family, friends and followers
  • Charity – There is always the recipe book made for charity by schools, community groups and now I have just ordered a recipe book in aid of the crisis in Syria which I am looking forward to receiving in the mail

img_2276This weeks Torah Parsha fit in so well with this Blog. When Jacob on his deathbed blesses his sons, he highlights characteristics that are unique to each of them and to the tribes of their descendants. According to Rashi[ii], five of these blessings focus on the agricultural specificity of each tribe’s territory in the Land of Israel. Interpreting the blessing to Issachar, “He saw a resting place, that it was good, and the land that it was pleasant,” Rashi writes, “He saw that his part of the land was blessed and would produce good fruit.” Issachar, whose tribe’s destiny was traditionally understood as immersion in Torah learning, rejoiced in a portion where ready-to-eat food grew in abundance and devotion to study would be practical.

In the same way as using fresh, local produce enabled the tribe of Issachar to focus on their learning, so too using fresh produce cooked at home allows us to focus on our health and well being.

“Rashi’s description of a localized, personal agriculture may serve as a model for how to grope our way back from the tortured complexity of the industrial food chain towards a healthier relationship with what we eat.” – Rabbi Julian Sinclair[iii]

I had thought about doing a blog on resolutions, but decided not to, but I did see a brilliant quote from Dr Frank Lipmann website[iv]:

“Of the many resolutions we can make this year to improve our health, spending more time in the kitchen is one of my top recommendations. As numerous studies have shown, increased home cooking correlates directly with healthier dietary patterns. Thanks to the food industry’s sugary, salt-laden, factory-farmed foods, home-cooked meals are almost always healthier than prepared and restaurant meals.”

Yip from both a spiritual and health perspective, there are no excuses not to go out and buy beautiful cookbooks or to look up recipes online and to Cook Good Food. Nothing beats a home cooked meal.

[i] Teresa cutter

[ii] Based on an idea I read from Rabbi Julian Sinclair –

[iii] Rabbi Julian Sinclair is an Orthodox rabbi living in Jerusalem. He is co-founder and Research Director for Tikkun Olam – Jewish Initiative on Climate Change. He recently served for four years as campus rabbi at Cambridge University in England. Rabbi Sinclair holds a BA from Oxford University, an MPA from Harvard and is completing a doctorate on the thought of Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, the 20th century philosopher-mystic.



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