One Taste, One Good Book

A splotched cookbook is always the sign of a good one. A tomato-stained, water-warped, onion-scented cookbook means it’s more than just a reference for the shelf. And when you find the pages of such a cookbook caked together after your very first tango in the kitchen with it—well, then, you know you have a winner.

This is exactly what happened with me after opening Sharon Louise Crayton’s new book, One Taste: Vegetarian Home Cooking From Around the World. The folks at Provecho Press in Santa Fe recently sent me a review copy, and upon first flip through the book, I spotted a recipe I knew would win my husband’s heart (gut): Bhutanese cottage cheese with chile. We are cheese- and chile-loving folk, you know.

But first, a little background on the book. The 108 featured recipes stem from Crayton’s travels around the world, into kitchens and homes, where she asked families their favorite foods to eat. Crayton, a Buddhist, writes from the premise that cooks need not only fresh ingredients, but fresh minds to make great meals. Meditations are sprinkled throughout the book. Recipes include a “Mind Refresher,” central to the cooking method of each dish. (I really like the Mind Refresher for fried eggplant with lemon wedges: “Appreciate whatever is happening.”) The introduction is written by Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse, head of the Dzongsar Monastery, College and retreat centers in India and Bhutan.

So last week, after a particularly hectic day, I opened the fridge and assembled a slightly altered version of the cottage cheese recipe (due to ingredients on hand). It turned out pretty darned good.

I continued on to the roasted red pepper and garlic hummus (also pretty darned good), and the spicy soy-sauced tomatoes (ditto). It was but my first encounter with these recipes, but I could see I was going to love the book. I only wish I had more time to explore it before we leave the country soon. I must take the Buddhist approach and “appreciate whatever is happening.” I shall return to the book when we return to our kitchen.

Until then, here’s my slightly altered version of Sharon Louise Crayton’s spicy Bhutanese cottage cheese:

3 lemon cucumbers, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
1 cup organic cottage cheese
1 tbsp Kashmiri chile powder
1 handful garden cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1 small garlic clove, minced
½ bunch fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
sea salt, to taste

Mix everything.
And here’s Crayton’s Mind Refresher: “Stand straight, breathe normally, and watch the moment’s breath for 30 seconds.”

Now, go get yourself a copy of this book.

(By the way, it just so happens that Crayton lives 90 minutes north of me in Santa Fe, home also to Provecho Press. This is entirely coincidence. I have never met Crayton, and the folks at Provecho had no idea I was in New Mexico when they offered to send me a review copy of this book.)

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