As I grow older and hopefully wiser, I don’t know why, but I think about my grandmothers a lot. They were strong women. Their spirituality, beauty, and earthiness strikes me to this day. Theirs was a life full of ritual. The rituals could be as simple as picking fresh herbs from the garden, separating each leaf, grinding them in stone, and then making an amazing healing salve or a yummy chutney out of it.
Every single day, they cooked fresh healthy meals. Cooking was an important part of their persona. Eating local was important as was eating seasonal foods. They knew that variety in diet mattered for their kids’ health and it would provide the anti-oxidant, vitamin, and mineral protection that was needed. Food was not just food. It was a ritual. They knew which vegetable or fruit was digested better with which grain or lentil. Preparation of spices had umpteen steps. I can’t believe how hard they worked!
The thought I put into the family meals is no-where close to grandma’s, but I do consciously try to follow some of their rituals. One is to prepare “ghee” or unsalted clarified butter. Ghee is a gorgeous, nutty, golden, liquidy version of butter. The French call it “beurre noisette” and they use it in pastries and sauces. I like to cook with it or add it to cooked foods. I find that it has a high smoke point and does not burn fast when heated. Adding small quantities to soups, lentils, rice, and homemade bread takes the palate to a different level. I make pasta and curry sauces with it as well. I prefer making ghee from fresh butter from local farms or organic butter if available. Preparation instructions are available on YouTube, Food Network, and many other sites. You can easily store and use it for two months at room temperature or in the refrigerator.
Ghee is well known in Ayurvedic medicine as a digestive, an anti-oxidant, a burn salve, and a memory booster. Of course, just like butter, it is high in saturated fats. So moderation is important. Use it as a substitute for butter or oil, not an addition. And margarine…no thanks. When cooking for my family, the more natural ingredients the better. The grandmas knew that. And I am slowly learning that as well.
Tell me, what are your family rituals pertaining to cooking? Share your thoughts.