Cooking for resiliency


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Welcome to the site! This content is old and may not reflect my current opinions. I keep it up mainly for reference and because I hope at least some of it is still good, but I encourage you to check out more recent posts as well as my Start Here page

 Last month someone posted saying asking if I might have issues with anxiety/depression that might really be at the root of my stomach problems rather than diet. It's interesting because I once thought that to be the case, but if it was I seem to have de-coupled the issues. When I first started getting healthy, my main goal was to be stable enough health-wise to study abroad, a goal I met and indeed I did study for a year in Uppsala. But even there when I was stressed I would get stomach issues. 

The past few weeks have been rough personally, but the amazing thing is that my problems have not been compounded by severe stomach issues like they were in the past. I think that while I have had other troubles, I am thrilled to have a achieved a degree of resiliency that I didn't think was possible for myself. I think the things that have gotten me through this time are utilizing simple gentle cooking methods. I told myself that it's OK to not eat perfectly, but that's not an excuse to survive on ice cream. 

I was very grateful that I have a bag of Haiga rice. It is more expensive that normal rice, but it is more nutritious that white or brown rice. It has more of the rice germ, but not the hull. So it's digestible without being soaked. 

In my experience I need very little of this to be full. I make it in my handy rice cooker. I first learned about rice cookers when I lived in grad student housing that provided me with a large private room...but no kitchen. Most of the other people there were exchange students from Taiwan, China, and Korea. They all had rice cookers. You can cook great meals with just an electrical outlet at your disposal. It's important to get one with a steamer to make your meal complete. In the past when I was grain-free I boiled roots in the rice container, but now I just put in some haiga rice. In the steamer you can put all kinds of things. Most roots and vegetables steam well. You can also steam sausage, fish, and Korean egg custard (I just put the custard in a dish and put the dish in the middle of the steamer). I love steaming sausage because it usually bursts a little and drips on top of the rice. I have also made a few other random things in the steamer like bucket dumplings and idlis.

I can't give you a recipe for a buckwheat dumplings, because I made mine up. I first had such a thing when I was at Himalayan Yak. They told me not to order the buckwheat thing (maybe it wasn't even a dumpling) because it was not something Westerners liked, but I don't know what they were talking about because it was delicious. They served it with TONS of butter and a stew of some sort made with goat liver and heart. If anyone knows what this is called I would be grateful :) It's not on their normal menu. Either way, if you can make it into a ball, you can steam it. I usually soak the locally grown buckwheat flour overnight in some water and it works OK. The butter is required :) I'm fascinated by the diversity of cuisines in Nepal...seems like there are at least five different regional cuisines. 

I just put the stuff in, flip the switch, and go do other things. When I'm done I mix it all together and add random stuff like pickled vegetables, chutney, sambal oelek,  seaweed, and raw egg yolks. 

Also, of course I use my slow cooker. I find that Korean recipes work really well in a slow cooker and I get a lot of ideas at local Korean places. They are some of the few restaurants in the city where they still make bone stocks and cook meat on the bone. I've had old Bulgarian ladies tell me their MSG-laden bouillon is "traditional," but the Koreans know better. You can't make something like Seolleongtang without real bone stock. It's made with ox bones that are boiled for hours and hours. Properly, they should be boiled for days.

While I am not going to live in NYC much longer, I'm very grateful for the diversity and how it has inspired me to learn and develop ways of eating that are as resilient as the cultures they came from. Thanks to the internet, I really don't need to live here to enjoy such food anyway....