by Laurie McLaughlin, Retreat Support
“I know that my intentions, skills and the mood in the kitchen are as important as
the final outcome of a great meal.”
- Chef Rachel Enright
It is a part of our mission to get people to think about cooking and eating vegetarian as part of bringing a spiritual aspect to everything we do here at Land of Medicine Buddha, explains Center Director, Denice Macy.
Our Spiritual Director, Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche, suggests that, as much as possible, it is good to eat meals for which no animal has had to die to feed us. And when we do that, we must remember to rejoice in that fact. (See related article in this month’s FPMT Newsletter, How to Use Cooking on the Path, advice from Lama Zopa Rinpoche.)
Denice describes the cuisine we offer as truly eclectic. “We try,” she says, “to offer a wide range of traditional vegetarian dishes from India and Asia as well as a repertoire of popular American vegetarian dishes such as lasagna.” Denice goes on to say that we try to create dishes that people can adapt to their own kitchens.
Our current Chef, Rachel Enright, says that we get a lot of requests for our recipes — coconut curry soup, Green Goddess and Feta Ranch dressings, and our lunch-time entrees such as vegetarian shepherd’s pie and enchiladas, to name a few. These recipes and more we hope to incorporate into our new cookbook. Our cookbook has been very popular and we are happy to announce that we will be coming out with an updated 2014 edition, which will include recipes from our current and recent cooks and chefs.
The Chef’s Philosophy
Chef Rachel Enright’s philosophy expands on what Denice and Lama Zopa Rinpoche have said. “My philosophy goes back to Thich Nhat Hahn’s quote:
‘In this plate, I see the entire universe supporting my existence.’
“I keep that in mind,” says Rachel, “both when I cook and when I plan the menus, because I have a deep appreciation for the process of cooking from seed to plate, and that includes everyone involved from farmers to drivers, to shopkeepers and all in between.”
“Unlike other restaurants,” Rachel continues, “Land of Medicine Buddha provides me an environment where I continuously stay mindful of the good energy I put into the food. I always make sure I am present in order to provide people a meaningful and peaceful experience when they eat here. It sounds like a cliché, but it’s true.”
“When I cook,” says Rachel, “I like to have diners feel that life could be good once they are they are done eating, rather than just be full. This includes having the ambience be as perfect as possible. I know that my intentions, skills and the mood in the kitchen are as important as the final outcome of a great meal.”
Continuing to Improve
“In this past year,” Denice Macy says, “we have been able to create many improvements in the dining experience here at LMB to make eating here more pleasurable and relaxing. We enclosed the dish washing area to eliminate the sound in the dining area. We installed green certified carpet in the dining area to reduce the ambient sound and we recently expanded our dining room, enclosing the porch and creating a solarium like dining area, which has become very popular.”
Denice added, “In the future, we will be exploring more ways to source our vegetables locally and look at ways of improving using local ingredients and seasonal produce, which help the environment by not depending on local shipping as much.”
As far as what we will see in the future coming out of the kitchen, Rachel says she regularly looks for new items to improve the dining experience. This includes adding healthy items such as buckwheat and bulgur, known to be high in fiber and iron.
Our cooking staff will continue to search out ways to simplify the food, while thinking about people’s health and well-being by providing alternative sources of fat such as sunflower and/or extra virgin olive oil instead of Canola oil.
Rachel adds, “We will keep on working to improve the presentation of the food as well, making sure guests engage all five senses in order to create a complete dining experience.”
A Balanced Diet
“And since I am cooking vegetarian,” continues Rachel, “ I need to make sure people are getting enough protein from as many different sources as possible. So we will seek ways to include legumes, dried beans, cheeses, grains, tofu, tempeh, yogurts, sour cream and nuts. It is my aim to make sure that with each meal, I include at least one if not two kinds of protein.”
So, now if you contact our office and book a meal, what can you expect?
“I make note of what we have on hand already in order to keep within our budget.” Rachel continues, “Then I look at what items are in season. I also try to incorporate into the menus what guests or staff have told me they liked, because I like to repeat meals that are popular. Keeping in mind the texture and color of the food, I also maintain a balance in the meals of roughly 50% vegetables, 25% starch, and 25% protein.
“One more variable,” says Rachel, “that comes into play is my own need for variety. I like to try new things that I find healthy and interesting, like the dill pickle soup I brought back from my travels to Alberta, Canada. So then I try them and if I get a good response, I certainly repeat it.”
“In summary, when I put together the menus, I think of the various combinations of foods as well as the seasons we are in. For example, lunches in the spring or summer could be pizza, summer potato salad or baked potato bar. Dinners could be Caesar salad and split pea soup, a garden salad with feta ranch dressing, and lemon bars or a fresh fruit platter for dessert. “
“For fall or winter, lunch could be stir fry veggies, a curry dish with tofu, fried rice, and oven roasted broccoli. Dinner may be one of the following: vegan carrot soup, black bean chili, or dahl; a Greek salad or a garden salad with Thai peanut or lemon tahini dressing; and for dessert, apple crisp or peanut butter cookies.”
Make a reservation:
Please call 24 hours in advance to let us know you’re coming so we can make sure we make plenty, but not too much. So, we look forward to seeing you soon.