Questions to Consider When Cooking Consciously

Welcome to Conscious Cooks and our attempt to relate a little more closely to the food that we eat everyday. Our intent with this blog is not to be preachy or push a sociopolitical agenda. We just both love food. We, like many people, sometimes forget that the relationship we have to our food is one of the most important relationships human beings have.

Hopefully Conscious Cooks will inspire some of you to think about your food differently. Our purpose is to ask questions, post recipes and relate food experiences that enlighten your individual and communal experience. We hope you enjoy the subject matter. Food is definitely near and dear to our hearts (and stomachs).

This post shares four basic questions the Conscious Cooks like to consider before and after preparing food. Remember there isn’t a right or wrong answer.

1) Who will you share the food with?

You can also think of this question as “Who will eat this meal?” Remember that the presentation and collective sharing of food is nearly as important as the food itself. The last thing you want to do is cook Chicken Satay for a friend with a peanut allergy or make Steak Diane for a vegetarian. The intention of the meal is to nourish both the body and the spirit and one way we have accomplished that is by creating rituals around food. Sharing in those rituals (Sunday family brunch, Thanksgiving, or dinner times) creates community around the food. Always ask yourself this question as a way to enhance the community that food creates. Nothing works better than a well cooked, well received meal.

2) Can the food be homemade?

When cooking, we like to take the “processing” into our own hands. For those of you starting from scratch, this does not mean that you have to make everything yourself. Kudos to you if you can, but we will be the first to admit that we do not cook meals 100% from scratch all the time (clearly we don’t make all of our pasta noodles from scratch). Sorry. However, we do try to make as much of the meal as we can ourselves. The more you step into the process, the more you improve the quality of your food both in nutrition (removing overly processed ingredients) and in taste.

3) Are the ingredients fresh?

While sometimes it is okay to use up whatever is leftover in the refrigerator (this is better than being wasteful and a common occurrence in our household), the freshness factor of the food is important to us. The longer a vegetable sits in the fridge, the less nutritional value it has. That is basic science, we can’t change that fact. A good website to look at if you are unsure about freshness is Still Tasty, however usually if you use your senses you will know if the food is bad. You can also preserve the freshness of your meal if you use local ingredients.

4) Did you have fun?

Food and cooking is not always an enjoyable experience. It can be a hurried process or a burnt dish that kills the enjoyment of preparing your meal. Food always turns out better when the chef is in a good mood. It’s important to have awareness of the things you enjoy in the kitchen and the things you don’t to keep the experience of cooking positive. If you hate doing dishes don’t cook a meal that uses more than one pan. If you like company in the kitchen invite someone to help you. You may find that the jobs you hate, they love–making the experience even better. The point is to be aware of yourself before and after the meal and to be sure that you keep cooking a positive experience.

Hopefully these four questions give you something to work with when preparing your next dish. Addressing these questions surely improved our relationship to food and our cooking experience. We hope they inspire you to try something new or to appreciate and old habit. Until next time, bon apétit!