It is funny how things come together sometimes. I love food and cooking. I have recognized the importance of patience and stillness and have been practicing finding both. I value a natural approach to ensuring optimal health and include eating well by eating clean as part of that approach. From one perspective each of these likes of mine are unrelated. I realized that this was not the case when all of them merged yesterday when I decided to make risotto for dinner.
I have been working on my patience and my need to do everything quickly and what I view as efficiently. It turned out that making risotto was an active way for me to practice the art of being patient while also eating a healthy meal and I got to cook too. So it was everything.
I like trying new recipes and foods but have in the past shied away from risotto. I have rarely ordered it in a restaurant because it never really seemed like an entrée to me. I have had it as a small side and enjoyed it but not enough to order just it by itself. So I never really grew to appreciate the wonderful taste of it. The other reason I have avoided making risotto in the past was that I did not believe I would be able to stand by the stove and give the slow cooking rice my undivided attention for a whole 22 minutes or for however long it would take to make sure it was ready. It just seemed like too much work. Upon honest reflection I realized that the reason that I never attempted to make risotto was a patience issue, I was just too impatient to undertake the task.
That was until I helped my nephew make risotto when we were visiting his home. I watched as he patiently chopped up the onions, celery and garlic and prepared the broth. I was in awe of his bravery, his tenacity, his willingness to take the responsibility for a cooking task that would lock him into position at the stove for almost half an hour. I had to get involved and so offered to chop up the mushrooms. I then even took a turn at mixing the rice after one of several ladles full of hot broth was poured into the brewing delicacy. And a delicacy it was. It was delicious and after watching the unfolding of the dish and putting in a helping hand I felt I was ready to take this on all by myself. It was not long before I was making my own risotto and loving it as much.
Yesterday was yet another time when I felt psychologically prepared to do it again. Me, a person who does not generally use recipes or if I do I do not usually follow them carefully, had to read the instructions several times before I was ready to roll. My husband gladly helped with the chopping of the onions, garlic and celery as I prepared the cauliflower, measured the rice and made the stock. My daughter got the cheese and the parsley ready for the last step.
When the veggies hit the pan the true test of my patience was off and running. This was where I had to be comfortable with being attentive to the pan, the rice and when to add yet another ladle of stock and block out the need or desire to do anything else. This was the test of my ability to be patient as the rice melded with the stock to eventually become this deliciously creamy delectable dish. At the start I had some doubts and wondered whether I would make it to the end, whether I would in fact be able to continue to stir the rice for the full half hour and focus on this alone. I surprised myself as it seemed like very little time had passed and I was almost to the last scoop of broth. This was good. I had somehow allowed myself to chill and let the stirring of the rice became my sole focus. In letting myself concentrate on what I was doing and just stir the rice I experienced a sense of stillness. It was a similar a sense of stillness to one I might get after walking in the woods.
Making risotto has turned out to be a practice in patience that I benefit from. Having to stand at the stove and give the rice my sole focus was both relaxing and meditative for me. Somehow the need to be attentive to the making of this dish gave me permission to stop multi-tasking for a moment and to let my attention to the other aspects of the dinner preparation just sit. Instead I could devote my attention to this one thing and this one thing only. It was a nice feeling.
While achieving this sense of stillness I was also doing something I love: cooking. As an added bonus I was able to eat the scrumptious home-cooked meal made with fresh ingredients. What a great way to spend my day.
Irene McDermott © 2012