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Temple Food

January 4, 2008

Despite the fact that she is not in the least bit vegan-friendly, I have a great love for Nigella Lawson. I watched her show when you could only see it on the Style network just because I loved how apparent her enjoyment of food was. From the selection of ingredients, to the prep (and tastings) and the final presentation, enjoyment and taste is paramount.

Also, she is OMFG! sexy.

Fans self

Ok, where was I?

One of the fantastic things about Nigella Lawson is how food positive she is. Food is there to be enjoyed and full fat everything is the order of the day.

So it’s no surprise that I thought of her today when I was wondering how to talk about that sort of “oh no, no more pie/nog/champagne/cookies/cakes/candy/cupcakes/gravy/sweet potatoes/mashed potatoes ever AGAIN” feeling and how to deal with it without reverting to the framing of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ food. After all, there’s nothing wrong with enjoying yourself and, even if you feel a bit like a well-fed tick after the holidays, it certainly doesn’t mean you need to punish yourself. But, if you’re like me, right about now your body is ready for something different.

That’s when I remembered “Temple Food.” Nigella’s word for the kind of thing you want after a night (or several weeks) of rich food and drink. We’re not talking calories or fat or paying some sort of penance for daring to feast with our loved ones, but clean fresh flavors and ingredients that restore and nourish your body and wake up your taste buds.

One of the foods she puts in this category is hot and sour soup. It absolutely epitomizes everything that I’m craving after mounds of family-style comfort food. Tangy, spicy, a little bit sour and full of fresh ingredients, it’s also perfect when I’m suffering from my annual post-xmas head cold (which would be now.) Her version uses broth made from chickens, but veggie broth or no-chickn broth (if you can get it) work just as well.

My version of Nigella’s hot and sour soup:

1 quart no-chikn stock

2 tablespoon tom yam paste

Handful chopped bok choy (or spinach)

1 stick lemon grass, tender inner part only, roughly chopped

juice of 1 lime

3 small fresh red or green chillies, finely chopped

1 tsp sugar

1 cup sliced button mushrooms

1/2 package extra firm silken tofu, cut into slices

5 green onions, cut into short lengths and then into strips

pinch of dulse flakes (optional)

1.Heat the stock and tom yam paste in a decent sized saucepan with the lemon grass, lime-juice, chillies, dulse and sugar.

2.Bring to a boil, add the mushrooms and tofu and simmer for a couple of minutes, then add the green onions and bok choy and cook for a further 2-3 minutes.

And for those necessary (and delicious) fatty acids, my other favorite temple food is stuffed avocado. Generally I make a nutmeat from walnuts, pine nuts, basil, sundried tomatoes, balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Then I scoop a big heap of it into half an avocado and dig in.

The concept of temple foods is so appealing to me that I think I’ll expand it to a lot of areas. I need temple-like surroundings after the chaos of the holidays so I’m taking lots of quiet time for myself. Being sick and it being cold as fuck outside, I don’t feel like stressing my body with running so I’m taking soothing scented baths and doing gentle yoga. After all the stress, joy, cooking, shopping, fighting, and laughing of the holiday season, my whole being needs some simplicity and a whole lotta ommmmmmmm.

If you have any great temple foods or practices that help you this time of year, share them in the comments.

  1. January 4, 2008 8:13 am

    Wow. I don’t have anything to offer right now as a Temple Food, but I do love the concept. Or rather, I love that someone has put a name to a feeling I have been trying to label for years.

    I will say, for all that it’s not a recipe or anything quite so organized as that, I’m sooooo looking forward to this weekend, which will be the first one in weeks me and mine won’t spend traveling. We’ll be doing laundry (allll the laundry – heaven help us all!), cleaning out the fridge, grocery shopping, and otherwise re-establishing our Life Baseline. Oooh, and maybe we’ll go out for breakfast one morning. That would be nice – just the four of us. 🙂

  2. January 4, 2008 1:39 pm

    What a great concept! My temple food depends on what my body craves, but a couple of staples are:
    really fresh, crisp green beans (especially in the summer when I can get them from the farmers market), steamed with a few sesame seeds and slivered red peppers.
    my quickie soup (I’ll blog the recipe) with tomatoes, chile peppers, spinach and fresh cilantro.
    A sharp granny smith apple with a slice of swiss cheese. Yeah, apples and cheese eaten together, it’s strange, but oh-so-good.

  3. fillyjonk permalink
    January 4, 2008 3:22 pm

    Rich foods per se I don’t really eat, but I have found that muffalettas are the perfect antidote to a sugar overdose. I don’t think there’s any way to make them vegan-friendly, though. Then again, there are some amazing fake meats out there, so who knows.

  4. January 4, 2008 7:21 pm

    I love Nigella, too.

  5. aimay permalink
    January 4, 2008 8:18 pm

    Okay, nice to see another vegan with Nigella-love!
    My “temple foods” include soaked oat-groats with craisins and agave, cold barley tea (mugi cha?), tadka dal, and bowls of short-grain brown rice.

    This is Aimay from VFF! Your blog is fabulous!

  6. January 4, 2008 8:51 pm

    It’s usually salad for me. Crisp, watery veggies like lettuce, bell peppers, celery, stuff like that. And juicy, sweet fruit. Not apples and bananas for some reason but more like berries and watermelon.

  7. January 6, 2008 4:38 pm

    Aimay! Good to ‘see’ you. I thought about posting a link to the blog over at VFF, but then I also thought that maybe I didn’t want that much attention. :p

    I’m so glad you found it though.


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