Summer Cooking – Yang Weather, Yin Style

with Liam Scheff
journalist, macrobiotic cook, and author of “Official Stories.”

Why cooking? What does that have to do with critical thinking? Or “conspiracy realism?”

Food is energy. Energy is what makes everything run, go and function. We make our bodies out of what we eat, so we want to eat good food. We make our blood and cells out of what we put into our mouths. Our neurons are formed from the fats we digest – we want to eat good fats. We even add order or chaos to our thinking by the quality of the food, nutrients and energy we put into our stomachs – and cells.

I’ve been a student of macrobiotic and ‘energetic’ cooking for 20 years. I’ve cooked for friends all over the country and world. I’ve learned a great deal, and continue to learn from the native cuisines I encounter. It is my pleasure to share the information with you.

Summer Cooking

In hot weather, the Sun shines hot and brightly in the day (“Yang”), giving us all warmth – sometimes too much! We need to cook less and not overheat ourselves (we need to emphasize the “Yin” in our food preparation). Summer provides an abundance of fresh Monsanto (no!) produce, we want to cook less and use more raw or lightly cooked foods – but we need energy – and grains and beans are compact sources of calories. We can try to be total raw-foodists, but that usually requires a great deal of exotic, long-distance foods, and an over-reliance on nuts, seeds and fats. So, let’s try some seasonal light cooking that keeps cooking times short and includes a lot of greens, roots and ground vegetables.

What to eat?

Local, seasonal, organic. Cooked with respect to the climate, weather and your mood!

What’s non-organic? What’s a GMO?

Short answer: “They’re trying to kill us all!”

Non-organics – these are foods sprayed with petro-chemical insect and fungus-killing liquid. When you eat these foods, you eat these sprays. Sound good for you? We’ve all been lulled into thinking it’s all entirely “normal” to eat pesticides. Do a little research on pesticide history and toxicity – it’ll change your mind.

GMOs are foods that are not food. They are poisons, or ‘experiments’ in disguise. I recommend watching “Genetic Roulette,” or any good critical book on GMOs for the details.

Concepts:

Yin – Expansive, Cool, Dark, Relaxing

Yang – Contractive, Hot, Bright, Energizing

Direction of food growth=effect in the body – Up and Down, Inward, Outward

Fire = Energy. Raw-foodists think that “enzymes” are the most valuable thing in food. Is it true?

Summer Grains:

Cous Cous
Bulgar Wheat
Quinoa, Amaranth, Teff
Pasta (Whole Grain)
Small Lentils (Soaked)
Barley, Rye, Wheat, Oat, Quinoa Flakes

Vegetables:

Cabbage (many varieties)
Celery
Carrot
Collard
Mustard Green
Turnip
Radish
Zucchini
Green Onion
Parsley
Cilantro

(And – what else? What’s local where you are?)

Fruit:

Apples
Pears
Berries
Plums
Peaches
Grapes

(What’s local and in season?)

Spices/Seasonings:

Indian – Curries, Cardamom, Fenugreek, Mustard Seed
SE Asian – Curries, Ginger, Chiles, Garlic
Mediterranean- Herbs, Garlic
Central American – Cumin, Chile, Garlic
North African/Ethiopian – Aromatic spices, ‘Berbere,’ ‘Mitmita,’ Chiles, Garlic, Cardamom, Fenugreek

Oils:

Olive
Sesame
Coconut
Sunflower

(Organic, organic, organic. Did you know oil crops are the most heavily sprayed with pesticides?)

Vinegar:

Apple Cider
Rice
Grape/wine/balsamic
Barley

Salt (and Sour):

Salt is one of the essential five flavors, representing the ‘five energies’ in Chinese medicine and macrobiotics: salty, sweet, sour, bitter and pungent (or hot/spicy).

Salt keeps you alive, makes your cells work and your electrical system function. Without salt, we wouldn’t be alive! Salt was so valuable in the ancient world that Roman soldiers were given it as payment (your “salary” – sal/sel is ‘salt.’)

But – I don’t use ‘sodium chloride’ or table salt. I use a complex salt – sea salt or mineral salt. And I don’t pour hard  salt onto food once it’s cooked. I put salt “into” food when I’m cooking it. It “hydrolyses” – mixes with water and enters what I’m preparing through osmosis.

I don’t use excessive salt, but enough to make sure my cells have sodium – which they need to work! Instead of over-salting, you can bring out and emphasize salty flavors by counter-balancing with sour, bitter, pungent or sweet (the ‘five flavors’). Sour is especially good at bringing out ‘salty.’ A little whole-food vinegar (apple cider, grape, brown rice) goes a long way to ‘expanding the palate’ of a meal. ie, Sour and salty are friends.

Knife – How to Cut:

Use a good vegetable knife suited to the job. Use a clean, sufficiently large cutting board. Make sure you’re balanced – keep your feet planted squarely on the floor (this helps!). Look at the vegetable – find its points of symmetry. Find a balanced cut. Think about how long you want to cook, how big you want the pieces to be, what part of the vegetable you want to include in a cut – a diagonal, a round, a square or rectangle? Be practical first – how much time will you have to cook a large chunk? A thin or thick slice?

Basic Preparations:

Quick Water Sauté. Boil a little water in the bottom of a flat pan or wok. Add the vegetables – the hardest, most-difficult to cook (onions, carrots, broccoli stalks) go… First! Softer vegetables, greens can go in at the very end – even when you’ve turned the flame off. (Oh, try to cook on a flame! Electric stoves give a different energetic feeling to food, in my experience.)

In summer, add a little oil at END, not beginning (add at the beginning when? When it’s cold outside! In winter – when you want more HEAT in your food.)

One Pot Meal. Cook grain, beans or pasta. When done, turn flame off, add chopped raw vegetables, seasonings. Stir, cover. Let them cook (steam) lightly in remaining heat. Add oil and vinegar at the end in summer (see above). Experiment with different grains, beans and vegetable combinations.

Pickle or Press. Chop vegetables into thin, small or long pieces, put in bowl with seasonings, salt, spices. Put weighted bowl on top; press for 10 minutes – or all day.

Dessert?

Sure, you can have dessert. Fruit with some rolled oats or grain makes a nice, easy after-dinner snack. Grab an apple, berries, some oats, some cinnamon or pie spice, a little coconut or sesame oil, pinch of salt, orange or lemon zest, and/or vanilla. Cut the apple thinly or into small cubes. chop the berries lightly (large pieces – use chopped raisins if you have no berries).

Raw dessert:

Mix and ‘bruise’ (lightly pound, mash) the fruit together. Add some sweet dessert spices, and a pinch of salt. You could add a drop of vanilla, too, or little stevia if you just have a terrible sweet tooth. Slightly warm the coconut oil so it pours, mix with the rolled oats. You could also add some chopped almonds or other nuts or seeds, including chia or flax, to the oat mixture.

Cooked dessert:

Boil an 1/8th inch of water in a flat med-sized pot. Put the fruit mixture into it, boil then simmer. Can be a quick cook for summer, or for cold seasons, more water and thicker pieces of fruit cooked for more time. Oats: Pan roast on a low-medium flame until they are slightly tan (but not browned or blackened) and giving off a pleasant aroma. Mix the heated oats in a bowl with coconut (or sesame or sunflower) oil. Put into the bottom of a pan or bowl, add the cooked fruit, and let it come to room temperature. Add different seasonal fruits, citrus zests, and spices to all of this.

Seasonal cooking:

Longer cooking times in winter, when you need ‘heat’ and fire. Shorter in the summer when the Sun is providing both ‘heat’ and fire, and you need to cool off!

In winter, the weather is “YIN” so we have to add “YANG”. In summer, the weather is “YANG,” so we add “YIN.”

But, try to keep a balance, and not go to excess in any direction….

 

LiamScheff.com
Author of “Official Stories” because “official stories exist to protect officials!” Available at Amazon.com

Liam

One Comment

  1. Great stuff, Liam! I have immense respect for your cooking and dietary practices. I used to cook at a macrobiotic restaurant many years ago, so this is all right up my alley! :-)

    Hope you don’t mind my commenting so much, lately.

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