THE MINDFUL KITCHEN – using your everyday experience as a meditation

“Cooking and baking is both physical and mental therapy.” – Mary Berry

Hi there,

I am a long time meditator. The benefits of staying in the present moment have been enumerated many, many times by professionals from all walks of life. Meditation has been good for me physically and mentally. Yet, lately I have noticed that when I am in the kitchen, I have lost contact with the joy of preparation and just seem to be rushing to get to the end of the process. I have decided I need to get back to the joy cooking provides to me and I am setting off on this journey of cooking more mindfully. I invite you to join me.

So, I am going to share with you a recipe for caponata. It is a good recipe to prepare in a mindful manner because of the amount of chopping and combining. It is also perfect for this summer season when all the beautiful ingredients are available at your local market.

Here are a couple of things that I have put into place in order to make cooking a mindful experience.

  • Make sure you have all of your ingredients assembled. You will avoid losing your focus looking for that missing ingredient.
  • Create a distraction free cooking environment. Turn off the phone and the television. Allow yourself the pleasure of a quiet environment.
  • Pay attention to what you are doing and don’t rush. Enjoy the process of being intentional with your knife cuts and measurements.
  • Avoid the temptation to multi-task. Give yourself permission to be in this moment with the meal you are creating.
SICILIAN CAPONATA

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium sized eggplant – Italian or white
  • 2 celery sticks
  • 3 carrots
  • 1onion
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes drained
  • 12 pitted green olives – cerginola if you can find them pitted. Don’t use olives in brine
  • 2 tablespoons of capers
  • 3/4 cup of raisins reconstituted in white wine
  • 3/4 cup roasted pignoli nuts
  • 1 small bunch of basil roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of honey
  • EVOO
  • basalmic wine vinegar
  • salt and pepper

Preparation:

  1. Dice the eggplant and fry in a small amount of EVOO
  2. Dice the celery, carrots and onion
  3. Remove the eggplant and add enough oil to sauté the celery, carrots and onions
  4. One the vegetables are golden, add the drained can of diced tomatoes and basil leaves
  5. Cook for approximately 10 minutes
  6. Add to the pan the eggplant, capers, olives, raisins, pignoli, honey and vinegar
  7. Cook until all liquid has thickened and the vinegar has carmalized
  8. Taste and add salt and pepper

I hope you will give this adventure in mindful cooking a try. I will be away in July and have reposted some old but goody recipes. When I return in August, I hope to continue this series and will be anxious to hear about your experiences.

38 responses to “THE MINDFUL KITCHEN – using your everyday experience as a meditation”

    • Thanks Angie. I think anything a person does mindfully is a form of meditation. I know you must be very mindful in your kitchen because your creations are so beautiful.

  1. Great recipe! Actually, cooking is my meditation. I tried meditating in college, and I was always thinking about what I wanted to eat, or that I had an itch… It’s just not for me, but I’m so envious of people who can do it!

  2. Cooking is definitely a form of meditation.
    Caponata is such a wonderful dish. I also make it in the summer, and always enjoy it.
    Not sure what you mean by not using green olives in brine. The only ones I recall are not in brine are black olives cured either in salt or olive oil.
    Enjoy your time off! 🙂

  3. This sounds so satisfying! I’ve felt the same in recent weeks, Bernadette. Just going through motions in the kitchen. I like your suggestion to turn off all the noise. Only the sound of chopping, sizzling and simmering. That’s all the therapy I need! 💕

  4. i love cooking but sometimes it is a burden. thankfully i get over it fairly quickly, and keep loving it. this dish sounds delicious.

    • Hi Sherry, it seems you must be having trouble with commenting. The same thing is happening to me when I want to comment on your post. I wonder what computer devil has it in for us? Thanks for your thoughts and comments.

  5. Cooking and baking is my “mindfulness time” and I love it! We really need an escape every now and then! That caponata looks absolutely mouthwatering 😋

  6. I’m a pretty deliberate (purposeful) cook in the kitchen. Not always, of course — sometimes I’m in a rush and things get hectic. But most of the time I really enjoy the whole process. This is a terrific dish, and one I haven’t made in a couple of years. Time to again, I think. Thanks!

    • Hi John, I think people who really enjoy cooking do it mindfully that is why I was concerned about what I was doing and trying to get back to satisfaction of creating a meal for people I love. Talk soon.

  7. I always consider the ambience during the eating ritual as equally important as the taste of the food. So now that factor now can encompass before one eats as well. Avoid rushing the preparation helps.

  8. Your caponata looks colorful and delicious. I used to meditate and stopped out of sheer laziness. I’ve been thinking about starting again so it’s no mistake that I found your post today. Thanks for the inspiration.

  9. Bern, I love this post! Such great points. There are actually times when I start chopping, prepping and cooking as a means of relaxation. The repetitive motion, the quiet time, and the solitude are very calming. Thanks for the recipe, as well as the reminders to find mindfulness in the kitchen!

    • Elizabeth, I think people who like to cook do find the mechanics of preparing a dish relaxing. Thanks for commenting and Happy July!

  10. I know what you mean by rushing to get done. I think medical conditions encourage us to make easy and quick meals. I, too, need to get back to the joy I used to always get cooking. Your SICILIAN CAPONATA looks not only delicious but beautiful too!

  11. As hard as I have tried (and I have tried very, very hard) I have not been able to get into meditation. But mindful cooking makes sense for me. I greatly look forward to trying this recipe!

  12. The mindful kitchen – looking forward to your future posts. I find cooking a real joy, especially when I get to spoil my guests! Is aromatherapy in the kitchen next?!?!?!?!?

  13. What a lovely summer recipe. To me mindful cooking is being alone in the kitchen with a glass of wine, a podcast and ingredients fresh from the farmers market.

Any comments or suggestions are appreciated. If you like this recipe, please give it to your friends.

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