At the beginning of the New Year 2012, I would love to share a heart-warming story that was contributed to my cookbook, Everything I Eat Nourishes Me ©2010, by Peggy Keller, literary agent for Blessingway Authors’ Services. Peggy has been working in trade publishing for over 30 years, beginning at Yale University Press, then Random House in New York, New England and California. When we talked about the concept of the cookbook she voiced her doubts about the word “nourishment” and how it applied to her own life. After talking with her about “conscious eating,” (we ingest how we feel when we cook and when we eat along with the food itself), suddenly her voice took on a lilt and with excitement she related the following narrative about her nourishing and regular experience of cooking with her 11 year old neighbor. May we have more and more of these kinds of soul experiences that bring nourishment to our plate of life this New Year.
“Sandy Warner (my 11-year old neighbor – the child I never had) and I cook together at least once a week, all year round. Now and then, her brother, Scott, joins us to prepare more elaborate dishes. He attends Cypress College Culinary Arts School and would someday like to own a restaurant. Tragically, they lost their mother in the spring of 2007 and are living with their grandparents two doors from my home. Sandy and I first began spending time together when she was about two months old, when I babysat for my little angel (my pet name for Sandy). On my 50th birthday, at a neighbor’s house, a 14-month old Sandy took her first steps into my arms. She laughed and I cried tears of happiness. I guess I could be considered her Auntie Mame, the poor one, but loving all the fun things we do together. We now spend much of our cooking time discussing what Sandy has been doing since we last got together. I hear about girlfriends, school projects, the Jonas Brothers, but not too much about potential boyfriends yet, because of her infatuation with Nick Jonas.
I love to cook – it’s my therapy – and I prefer doing what I love with someone I love, and that happens to be Sandy. I’ve often told her that since she has to eat, she should learn how to cook, so she can eat healthy meals. That is my goal – to get her to eat healthy and to have fun while she prepares her meals. Sandy began stirring the pot, any pot – when she was about three years old, under my very watchful eyes. She would drag a stool into the kitchen, place it in front of the stove, then climb up, grab a wooden spoon and begin stirring whatever was cooking, whether or not it needed to be stirred. Now, at least two, sometimes three times per month, on a Saturday morning, we visit our local farmers’ market to buy fresh produce and fruit for a Saturday night meal. One of our favorites is Chicken with Tarragon-Caper Sauce on Mixed Greens and Skillet Corn served with fresh, sliced, heirloom tomatoes and basil from my garden, drizzled with Girard’s Italian salad dressing (an excellent dressing). For dessert we have gorgeous, plump locally grown strawberries with nothing on them, only their natural sweetness to whet our taste buds. We love the ease of making these dishes and the freshness of all the ingredients. It feels and tastes like summertime. Before I know it, Sandy will be a teenager and too busy spending time with her girlfriends (and boyfriends) to cook with me as frequently as we do now. But the affection and love we feel for each other and the time we spent cooking together will always be remembered for the joy and laughter we shared preparing our favorite comfort foods.”
Chicken with Tarragon-Caper Sauce on Mixed Greens
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tbs. white wine vinegar
2 tbs. shallots, minced
2 tbs. fresh tarragon, chopped
1½ tbs. capers, drained
4 roasted, grilled or poached boneless chicken breast halves (we prefer grilled)
6 cups mesclun (assorted small, young salad leaves) salad blend (about 4 oz.)
2 tbs. olive oil
¼ cup roasted red peppers (fresh or jarred), thinly sliced
Whisk together mayonnaise, white wine vinegar, shallots, tarragon and capers in a small bowl. Season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Season chicken breasts to taste with salt and pepper after cooking. Toss mesclun in bowl with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Arrange mesclun on a platter. Slice the chicken breasts and fan out atop salad leaves. Drizzle tarragon-caper sauce over chicken. Garnish with red pepper slices and serve immediately.
May this be the beginning of a wondrous and affirming year of self-nourishment.
About The Author: Aline Fourier is a writer, symbolist painter, and multimedia artist who holds a Masters in Special Education and has trained in Psychosynthesis Counseling with Dr. Tom Yeomans and in Mandala Symbolism with Dr. Robert Johnson. Her background has been quite eclectic, including extensive study in Eastern and Western psychological disciplines and shamanism. Fourier conducts grief and trauma workshops and workshops focused on awakening the child who is the spontaneous explorer within us all. Fourier and her husband own Ortiz Mountain Gallery, where she displays her artwork. She presently devotes all her time to her writing, painting, healing work and caretaking the earth where she lives. To order Everything I Eat Nourishes Me,A Cookbook for Body & Soul, click here. To learn more about Aline Fourier, visit www.alinefourierstudio.com.