"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" ~ Mary Oliver

Tag: macrobiotics

macro-bowl supper redux . . .

macro-bowl-2-tempuraOur first macro-bowl dinner was such a hit the other night that I thought I’d make another one today. I defrosted 6 extra-large shrimp from the freezer, shelled them and placed them back in the fridge ready to go when it’s time to make shrimp tempura tonight.

Found some fresh small Chinese cabbages in the pantry too – will cut up the leafy parts and saute with garlic and a little lemon juice.

If the avocado ripening in the kitchen window isn’t ready yet, I’ll briefly heat up a few fresh edamame beans and season with a little soy.

So tonight’s macro(biotic) bowl will contain:

fresh-cooked brown and sweet rice (in a little dashi and soy sauce)

sauteed Chinese cabbage leaves with garlic and lemon

warmed edamame beans

tempura shrimp in panko crumbs

Tempura shrimp: The shrimp takes a few steps to prepare: a) defrost, shell and devein the shrimp; b) dry them off; c) cut tiny slits in the curved end of the shrimp and devein as well (the shrimp will now lie flat on the cutting board; d) insert a bamboo skewer or toothpick in the shrimp to keep it straight while frying. Make some tempura batter (boxed or with a little flour and ice water); Dip the dry prepared shrimp into the tempura batter, shake off excess and roll immediately in plain, dry panko crumbs. Deep-fry in a small skillet or small saucepan to conserve how much oil is used for the 6 shrimp. Cook and turn until golden brown – drain on paper towels and remove toothpicks.

Serve with a some hoisin sauce mixed with a drop of soy, sesame oil and a little sweetener (I use stevia.) I just put a small dish of this on the table.

The process change for making macro bowl dinners is that once I’ve settled on what will go into the macro bowls, I scale down the amount of vegetable and protein sides to the size of the servings that will go on top of the brown rice melange. This reduces the amount of food prepared and cooked. And there’s no leftovers either! YAY!

Some other macro bowl side dishes that might be appealing are:

  1. teriyaki broiled chicken thigh pieces (yakitori)
  2. pan grilled salmon in teriyaki
  3. cucumber and wakame salad
  4. instead of rice, cooked cellophane noodles with ground pork & green onions, e.g., “ants crawling up a tree” – a yummy Chinese classic
  5. soba noodles in soy-ginger sauce
  6. teriyaki flank steak slices
  7. beets, sliced and dressed with a little vinegar/lemon juice
  8. broccoli florets

etc. etc. etc. . . .





“macro” bowl for dinner. . .

macro bowl of brown rice, avocado, yellow squash and salmon poke

macro bowl of brown rice, avocado, yellow squash and salmon poke

Now that the holidays are over with all that rich food (I’m guilty!) I’m feeling like simplifying our food intake and making them appetizing at the same time. I studied macrobiotic cooking a long time ago when I had a viral condition for which Western medicine wasn’t helpful (they said you can’t treat viruses.) However, in Chinese traditional medicine, there’s a concept that parasites (viruses and bacteria) grow and thrive in “damp” conditions in the body. And so, if your diet is prepared to “dry out” the damp, then, there’s no place for them to hide. At least, that’s what I like about Eastern approaches to health and the body. That’s not to say that when I fractured my ankle a few years ago, that the orthopedic care I received in the Emergency Room was of the highest degree possible – the two orthopedic residents were so professional!)

Anyhow, I digress. The real reason for this post is that I’ve come across a way to prepare meals that might simplify the preparation time, but also offer us a nice way to eat healthy prepared meals without feeling deprived in any way. In fact, I think the presentation of macrobiotic foods (grains, vegetables and a little fish) in one-bowl will be fun. It also serves to customize the amount of food prepared so that there’s less chance for leftovers left in the fridge.

So tonight’s menu includes making salmon poke (pronounced “po-keh”) a Hawaiian version of sliced raw fish with soy sauce, a little wasabi and sesame seeds. The one-bowl presentation will include warm brown rice, cooked yellow squash with onions, sliced avocado and the salmon poke. The fish needs to be “sashimi-grade” for which I rely on my fishmonger’s advice. She cut a center piece and skinned it for me.

One unexpected benefit of the freshly cooked warm brown rice is that it gently heats the raw salmon without cooking it, making it even more tender and tasty.

Yin, not yang . . .

I-Ching rock photo

You may have heard of Yin and Yang or at least seen the image of two halves making a whole: the dark and the light. Yang energy is excess in all things, pushing things beyond the limit outside of oneself. Yin is shy, reserved, quiet, drawing energy from within.

The truth of the matter is that my whole summer has been so yang that I’m “yanged” out, if that’s a word I can coin here. Too much running around, reaching out for lots of things, driving a lot, experiencing strong feelings, all of which have taken place in long summer days of intense heat and humidity.

Now that the light is changing and the air cools at night, I’m definitely ready for the pendulum to swing back the other way. Yesterday for some reason, I was drawn back to thinking about macrobiotics as a way of eating and living. Years ago, I spent a week at the Kushi Institute in Becket, MA. learning how to cook macrobiotic food. Armed with a pressure cooker, heat mat, premium brown rice, spring water, collard greens and kinpira recipes, I came back, ready to combat the viral encephalitis that still had a grip on my brain. Even though Western doctors said there was nothing wrong with me besides exhaustion, I knew something was up when I ordered an “ice cream sundae with mushrooms on top” at Friendly’s.

Thinking back on it, I remembered making rice balls and tiny lunches packed in bento boxes to take to work with me. People marvelled at how little it looked like I ate and at the same time, complimented me on the glow of my skin. I lost weight then too. Remembering that has reminded me now that I have a chance to regain my center, calm myself down, eat less but nutritiously and lose the remaining weight I’ve been aiming at once and for all, say, by Christmas.

The other long-held goal of mine to truly clean things out here and live a spare, although not spartan lifestyle also seems close at hand. The dumpster was taken away as quietly as it appeared, holding three and half tons of debris. In a month’s time, another container will appear for us to go through things that are still left. Just thinking of how much lighter living will be by then has me feeling giddy with anticipation.

For me to stay on something like a macrobiotic pathway it may also be helpful to think about life a little differently than in the past. I find myself wanting to shed the extravagances of the past: over-the-top Christmas holidays; gifts for the children they might not want or need; here-or-there things that are nice but add to the stuff that eventually will be sorted out and then given away again. The Buddhists say that craving is the source of human suffering. Taoists say something a little less judgmental. In any case, you can’t make desires go away. Something has to happen so that they don’t seem important anymore. Or set things up so that desires won’t surface as often. Tempting places like, Etsy, eBay and Nordstroms have been deleted from my Bookmark Bar. Oh yes, and I forgot to mention Pinterest, which is a most beautiful way to absorb other people’s cravings while increasing your own! I’ll have to get my thrills from going to the market a few times a week with cash, not a debit card.

Another thing that I learned about having less is the joy of an almost empty refrigerator. To me, nothing is worse than figuring out what to cook so that the refrigerator contents don’t spoil. I’d rather shop more often and buy two days worth, eat it ALL, and then start over again. So much food is wasted otherwise. I find that I can never rely on what I thought I’d like to eat, then three days later cooking it with the same kind of relish as when I first bought it.

So that’s where Yin is taking me these days. I’m exhausted from all the Yang. Depleted. I just need to stay quiet for awhile. Sit quietly. Read. Keep the TV off, especially the news.  And turn off the cooking show where Ina Garten pours a quart of cream into six egg yolks swimming in two sticks of butter. Now, that’s Yang.