Chicken with Tarragon-Caper Sauce on Mixed Greens by Aline Fourier

Chicken with Tarragon-Caper Sauce on Mixed Greens by Aline Fourier

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.

Sandy

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 Tarragon

 

Chicken with Tarragon-Caper Sauce on Mixed Greens

(serves 4)

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.

Grandma’s Challah by Aline Fourier

Grandma’s Challah by Aline Fourier

There is nothing like my grandmother’s challah bread: sweetness and the earth, love, honey and versatility. It can be made into the very best French toast, or just toasted with jam for breakfast or bread of life with any meal. So when I eat her gift, I am affirming that I am sweet earth filled with love and versatility. A creative soul.

What if we allow our own experience of foods and cooking to be our guide to eating? We have all these authorities outside ourselves telling us what is “true” for us. And that “truth” keeps changing, which only adds to our confusion. One day “they” say coffee is bad for us, yet today “they” say it helps prevent heart disease. So we decide to drink coffee because heart disease runs in our family. And, we also accept the reality that our genetic history predisposes us to certain weaknesses and illnesses. All these thoughts we attend to help create our reality. What if we consciously begin to choose positive and affirming thoughts about what we eat? What if we begin to ask ourselves how we feel about the foods and recipes we choose to cook and eat and feed our families? Are there any memories or stories around these foods that we enjoy? These narratives engage our whole spirit and nourish us.

I remember vividly the image of my grandmother each time we came to visit. She stood at the stove, her back to us in concentration, the aromas wafting and hugging us in greeting. We were willingly gathered into her delicacies. She turned and handed us a freshly baked cookie, a sweet cake, an entering greeting. My grandmother, whom we called Bubby, was a most amazing cook and baker. Taste and abundance were her forte. It was our ritual to travel from Long Island to Brooklyn almost every weekend to the “apartment savory” of my grandmother and two aunts who lived with her. It was always a sumptuous feast for both eye and stomach, the highlight being the challah, a sweet bread that my bubby baked fresh each week. No other challah could compare. It was both cake and bread at the same time. I remember her smile as she would put her arms around me and then hand me one of her culinary gifts to try. No words were needed. I felt love and nourishment in each and every bite. Thank you for the loving tradition of food and cooking you have passed down to me.

Grandma’s Challah (Braided Egg Bread)

7 cups flour, sifted (makes 2 loaves)

2 packages yeast

1 tbs. salt

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup oil

3 eggs (take off some yolk to smear top of challah)

Mix yeast and a small amount of flour with lukewarm water (about 1/2 cup). In a large bowl, make a groove in the remaining flour and spill in yeast mixture. Let yeast stand uncovered approximately 15 minutes. In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil and sugar and then add these ingredients to the yeast in the center of the flour. Knead dough, adding as much warm water as it will take to form a smooth, firm ball. Add a little oil to bottom of bowl and place kneaded dough in and let stand covered with cloth in a warm place for 2 hours, maybe under a pillow (my aunt Adele, who passed the recipe to me, added the pillow reference). Then knead again 2 to 3 times. Divide dough into 6 pieces and roll out each piece into a long snake, about 17” long. Braid 3 snake pieces together to create a single loaf. Repeat for the second loaf. Cover both loaves and let rise until double in bulk. Brush with remaining egg yolk before putting them into oiled loaf pans. Bake one hour at 350 degrees.

When I go to the deepest sources of my nourishment, that primal place of my emotions, memories and thoughts (physical, mental and spiritual), I become more connected to my body and can hear its needs and messages. I am taking responsibility for my own well-being, based on my individual needs and truths.

Our bodies talk with us, we just have to listen. Please feel free to share your memories around food that nourish you. *Copyrighted excerpt from Everything I Eat Nourishes Me, A Cookbook for Body & Soul. Printed with permission of Creative Response, Inc., Cerrillos, New Mexico.

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.

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