I recently watched the movie “How to cook your life”. It’s features a zen practitioner and acclaimed chef Edward Brown, also, author of "The Tassajara Bread Book", a main reference book for aspiring bread bakers.
Over the last few years, I become a great chef because I am an athlete, teacher, and health nut. I realize it’s almost impossible to eat healthy but delegating your meals to fast food restaurants and processed quick grocery store meals.
I am not a French chef with an extremely fancy presentation, but I am great at making flavorful, healthy meals from scratch.
I see many similarities between cooking and karate like the Japanese viewed a similarity between calligraphy and swordsmanship. In fact, I view the preparation of food as part of my Martial Arts Training.
Here’s some steps to get the most out of cooking and to experience it’s almost zen like quality…
Cook with all basic ingredients – Instead of buying a mix to make pancakes, I make my pancakes using flour, baking powder, eggs, etc. This ensures that I know exactly what goes into my food. If you use basic ingredients, your grocery bill goes down dramatically as the nutritional value rises. I found this out during my food stamp challenge last year. Also, you will experience less food waste because you can make such a variety of foods from a few ingredients. For example, with flour, eggs and yeast, you can make pancakes, pasta, pizza crust, and bread instead of buying each individually.
Focus on technique – Most people complain that cooking takes too long, but if you focus on improving your cooking techniques, you can reduce the time to less than running out to get a pizza. I’ve practiced my knife cutting skills so I can cut as fast and safely as a professional chef.
Simple cooking tools – I stick with simple tools and no fancy gadgets. I use one sharp knife for all my preparation. If you hone your knife cutting skills, you become so efficient that a Slap Chop becomes unnecessary. It’s also less tools you need to clean up.
Mind like the water – When I cook, I get so engrossed that everything else tends to melt away. In the Martial Arts, we call it mushin. Mushin is when our mind is totally still. Like undisrupted body of water, we can clearly see our reflection on the surface.
Taste your food – Don’t just blindly make recipes. I really taste the food that I cook and make changes to the recipe according to my taste. Once you fine tune your palette, your food will become extremely flavorful. Once you get to this point, friends and family will notice it and they’ll give positive comments about your cooking. I have a Lemon Garlic Shrimp that I continued to adjust to my taste. I am constantly asked to bring them with me to friend’s parties.