Friday, December 28, 2012

Rawdyssey: Bahay Kalipay revisited

Cashew cheese, dehydrated caramelized onions on top of flax seed crackers.

Though raw food keeps on being prominent in this blog, I must clarify, that I am not a raw foodist. To date, I'm a food enthusiast, raw and cooked. Mostly cooked, based on my history. Very vata, I'm not the kind of person who would usually feel full on a green, leafy salad. So, my love affair with warm meals have been on-going. 

However, raw food keeps on popping up for me, wherever I travel, through the people I meet. All over, people are choosing to eat differently. And I am totally fascinated by this. 

BK Breakfast: fresh fruits with dehydrated
coconut meat, sprouted buckwheat, and goji berries,
topped with carob-coco milk.
My introduction to raw food began at Bahay Kalipay in Puerto Princesa, Palawan, March 2010, when my friends and I visited the energy healing center for the very first time. At that point, my contact with raw food seemed mostly through TV and print media, where the buzz about the seemingly extreme diet was tinged with some irony and humor. What I didn't know then was that this 5-day-long encounter with raw food and Inner Dance, the main purpose of our coming, would start a fascination with the raw food movement.
On Dec 3, 2012, I returned to Bahay Kalipay, my fourth trip to the retreat center, to teach for a couple of days before going to Maia, a raw-food and coconut intuitive community just an hour away from Bahay Kalipay. 

I always find these trips to Bahay Kalipay interesting. It brings up a lot of stuff for me. Before going, I get a little edgy about "going raw." I worry wether I can sustain a dynamic yoga practice while there. When I get there, I question whether I will feel full on what they are serving. It always looks so small in comparison to cooked fare. I'm always ok in the end, always getting to the point where I've had enough with plenty of food still on the table, always consuming so much less than what I'm used to. 

Daniw and her son, Sinag. 
I'm still a huge fan of putting my food to fire, but I have to say that Daniw's "cooking" and the food she serves in Bahay Kalipay really makes me question my ideas about food, it challenges me also, showing me that there is a million and one ways of eating raw food. They come in all shapes and all sizes, all textures and all flavors. 

There's also a certain mindfulness that kicks in when you are intentionally eating raw. I find I eat slower. I savor more. There's this sense that all of my parts, my mouth, my stomach and my mind, are really working together get the most out of the experience. 

There's definitely something to eating more raw foods. Without going to extremes, it makes sense to add into our diets more live foods that contain enzymes (which are killed in the cooking process) and that are high in nutrients. 

Thank you, Daniw, for another amazing raw food experience! Thank you Bahay Kalipay! 

This last trip, Bahay Kalipay, was actually the first step to a 3-week long stay. In Bahay Kalipay, I would enjoy the ingenuity of the raw kitchen, helped along with a dehydrator and a high powered blender. After just 3 days, I would be launched into Maia, where sacred simplicity amounts to eating coconuts or at the very most simply prepared hand-made raw food. More to follow on Maia, another food-altering experience...

Here are some of the amazing dishes at Bahay Kalipay this time around. One dish that I wish I had a photo of was with amazing kelp noodles:

Spaghetti anyone? Cucumber pasta with fresh tomatoes blended with garlic and spices. 

There's always desert at BK: chocolate mouse.

To left: fresh pineapple with paprika. Raw noodles
made of hicama, carots and sprouts.

Cabbage salad with seaweed pesto.

Curried veg on top of flax seed crackers.

Green Speckled Lentils

Though the lentils pictured above are not Puy Lentils, from the Le Puy region of France, they are still pretty darn tasty and peppery as their French counter-parts. For me, these legumes are in heavy rotation these days. I love them, making it pretty much in the same way, only varying the grains and steamed vegetables that I cook with them. I also sometimes add different seasonings. Though at times I forget completely, which is no problem with the vegetable stock giving it so much flavor already!

I'm not a nutritionist, but I feel fully sated when I have such a dish. There's plenty of protein in the lentils, fiber and over nutrients in the steamed veg, and carbs with the grain.

Green speckled lentils (if possible, Puy lentils), cooked in vegetable stock. Not a lot of stock, just enough to cover the lentils some. Season as desired. I like to add paprika, a couple of bay leafs, and ground cumin. You want the lentils to be served a little al dente. So add the vegetables on top to steam over lentils, just when they are starting to soften. Again, you can season the vegetables. I like to add dill and more paprika, along with a drizzle of olive oil.

I actually like crabs, so I like to have lentils and vegetables with a nice hearty brown rice or for a lighter nuttier mean, quinoa. In the photo above, lentils are covering a sustaining millet grain. Buckwheat groats is also another option.  

Cooks really easy. I like to make a large pot so I have enough for a meal for the following day. Keeps nicely.

Christmas Fruit Cake

"I'll be home for Christmas.." croons Bing Crosby as I wait for my 8pm yoga class here at Urban Ashram at Fort High Street. They have a pretty funky song list going on, Bing shares the sound-light with the likes of his contemporaries Sinatra along with a wild array of R&B songstresses and various pop acts, all in the yuletide spirit.

Mid-November and it's all about Christmas here in Manila. The lights are up. Christmas sales and bazaars are on all over the city. Manger scenes everywhere. In fairness, I got a head start this year. First inkling of the happy holidays started at the end of October when I learned to make traditionally English Christmas Fruit Cake, from Mr. Trevor Boag, a master of the craft, whose been making this holiday delight since 1974. He patiently took me through the cake-making process step-by-step, resulting in my first baked cake from scratch (no help from Betty Crocker here), pictured above. 

The cake, which traveled across England, over Europe, all the way to the Philippines in Southeast Asia, was iced in Manila at the start of December, and served on Christmas Eve with my family.

Again, food is what brings us together, across continents and oceans, crossing boundaries and cultures.                                            

Dec 28, 2012
In India now. Cake was cut Dec 24. My family loved it. It was a beautiful way to contribute to the Christmas festivities, sharing something made by hand, made with love. It also made me feel connected not only with my own family, but with the Boag family, who I'd spent so many wonderful times with over the summer, all the way in England. I knew they would be cutting into their cake too. Despite the distance, there was the spirit of cake and Christmas between us.

Here's a bit of the cake evolution:

Creaming the butter and adding brown sugar.

Brown sugar mixed in.

Eggs added and folded in.

Into the cake tin with all the dried fruit, candied cherries
and rum!

Out of the oven.

Iced with marzipan layer, topped with white fondant.