Zen Cooking & Coconut Vanilla Frozen Yogurt
September 27, 2012 13 Comments
My friend Nikki is a food writer and photographer. She produces a beautiful website: art & lemons. That amazing photo above is hers.
I have been lucky enough to spend some time with Nikki in her kitchen.
What I noticed right away is that she is smiling when she cooks. That’s right! She is calm and happy as she does the kitchen tasks that lead to a delicious meal. I found this behavior fascinating because if you walk in my kitchen when I am cooking, you will see a frown. I don’t relax when I cook, but I wish I did.
I asked her how she keeps it together and this was her response:
I’ve always been curious about cooking as both a technical and creative art. Being in the kitchen is like meditating for me. Everything gets still and quiet and as I pour olive oil into a pan, chop an onion, and begin the dinner ritual.
There is something very meditative about cooking for me because I have to pay complete attention to the present moment and to everything my senses are experiencing. That's when I know the food will taste good.
Ummm, yeah. You mean you aren’t trying to check your e-mail, listen to the radio, stop your daughter from hitting her brother, and cook?
I decided we could all learn something from Nikki and she was kind enough to give me an interview and an amazing recipe for frozen yogurt.
Snack Girl: When did you learn to cook?
Nikki: I remember cooking eggs in our galley style kitchen around age seven. It was a perfect fit for just one and I was always the first one up. I started with eggs, scrambled then poached then folded over into loose omelets. Pancakes followed. I suppose I got my start with breakfast.
The kitchen was quiet and cleaned up from dinner the night before and it always felt like an inviting place to be in the mornings.
Snack Girl: At what point in your life did you realize that you found it to be relaxing?
Nikki: Cooking has always been relaxing to me. I think it’s because I was never intimated that something would flop. My curiosity kept me interested in the science of cooking. Something always flopped in the beginning. I made up recipes for cookies that were more like oil blobs.
They ended up getting thrown in the trash, which frustrated my mother that I was wasting food. For me, I was learning how to cook by experimenting in the kitchen. I spent hours watching both of my grandmothers cook. There was a natural rhythm and energy to boiling a pot of water, mixing a cake, or frying potatoes that fascinated me. I wanted to do the same. To move effortlessly from dish to the next.
Snack Girl: What is your favorite cooking task?
Nikki: My favorite cooking task, hmm that’s a good question. Whisking simple vinaigrette together to dress a salad or making a loaf of good bread.
Snack Girl: Are there times when you find cooking to be stressful?
Nikki: Yes, cooking can be stressful when I take on too much at once. I tend to have grand visions of lavish fancy dinner parties and whenever I host such a dinner with multiple courses, I get a little edgy and overwhelmed.
I know this about myself now after having done it enough times. I can pull the dinners off without a hitch but I don’t enjoy them as much. I’ve learned to design simpler menus where I can prepare parts of the recipes in advance. I’ve also learned to ask for lots of help.
Snack Girl: What is your favorite snack?
Nikki: Olives, roasted red peppers, artichokes, cheese, crackers, hummus.
This coconut vanilla frozen yogurt is a favorite in Nikki’s house! Check out her lovely blog for more great recipes: art & lemons.
Coconut Vanilla Frozen Yogurt Recipe
reprinted with permission from art & lemons
(Yield 1 quart)
1 3/4 cups whole coconut milk (about 1 1/2/400 mL cans), strained to make coconut cream
2 vanilla beans (seeds scraped)
1 1/4 cups Greek-style yogurt (whole or 2%)
3/4 cup natural cane sugar
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
To make coconut cream:
To strain the coconut milk, line a mesh strainer with cheesecloth or a layer of paper towels. Slowly pour the coconut milk into the strainer (You’ll need to buy 2 cans, but will only use about 1 1/2 cans. You can stir the leftover coconut into steel-cut oats, pancake batter, or quick-breads); then refrigerate for an hour.
To prepare the vanilla beans:
Flatten the vanilla beans and cut them in half lengthwise. Scrape the seeds from each half with the flat edge of a knife.
To make the frozen yogurt:
Mix the coconut cream, yogurt, and sugar together in a medium-size bowl. Stir until the sugar is thoroughly mixed in. Add the vanilla bean seeds and shredded coconut. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for 1 hour. Transfer the mixture to an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions.
(This recipe is inspired by Heidi Swanson’s Vanilla Frozen Yogurt).
For ¼ cup = 154 calories, 11.2 g fat, 13.1 g carbohydrates, 11.2 g sugar, 1.5 g protein, 1.2 g fiber, 12 mg sodium, 4 Points+
Points values are calculated by Snack Girl and are provided for information only. See all Snack Girl Recipes
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