Cooking With Fire: Bitter-Sweet Biscuits

Have you ever experienced an habitual default in yourself anew, with beginner’s mind, as if you had stumbled upon it for the very first time?

Given that Russ & I enjoy a biscuit or two with our morning cuppa, and given my dislike of eating numbers in my food and the lack of true vitality in the packet variety, I decided to begin baking my own. Not renown for my biscuits ever before I found that when I racked my mind for a recipe only Anzacs came to the fore (my recipe books are still buried away as we finish building!). So without further ado, or any conscious ado at all, I have purchased the ‘necessary ingredients’ and I find myself adding golden syrup, brown sugar and white flour to the mix. I am not going to lie and say there were not delicious biscuits (isn’t it amazing the transformational power of cooking with love!); however, what was interesting to note was how a default pattern can temporarily erase conscious consideration. While munching on a biscuit in contemplation I considered what I already knew: that golden syrup is a refined sweetener; brown sugar is also refined, albeit with a hint of molasses; and white flour besides refined could be many things – bleached and rancid among them. I was using unbleached stone-ground flour that I had milled myself, so off to a better start than most, yet why not use whole-grain, and why not some bio-dynamic spelt to boot. Then molasses instead of golden syrup – blackstrap molasses is, yes, also refined, but most of the sucrose is removed and unlike refined sugars it contains trace amounts of vitamins and minerals including calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, copper and iron; which is a similar story for our whole cane rapadura sugar that I replaced the brown sugar with. But I had hit my stride now and further into a new mix went organic pepitas, soaked chia seeds (so you can digest them better) and, if it were legal in Australia as it is in the USA and EU, I would have added some hemp seeds, rich in EFAs (essential fatty acids), smashed with a stone pestle and mortar.

Mixing the ingredients together I suddenly felt, poignantly felt, how rich these ingredients were; how rich I was to be able to sieve them through my hands… Spirals brewing, fire flickering as I stir the molasses into the butter and watch the intensity crescendo as the bicarb is added… Truly it was a moment of diving into the swirls of the universe; feeling so stirred myself in that miniature cauldron on coals; feeling a deep connection to my ancestral lineage of woman who cooked by that flickering light… Perhaps it is worth considering the proposition shared by MD Carole Hungerford that the flickering of the fire induces relaxation in the conscious state, which may explain the achingly raw and unfulfilled hunger that lies under the gaze of those addicted to watching the flickering of their night-time televisions…

I am suddenly touched by a tinge of sadness – was it just a hint of bitter in the blackstrap molasses? Or was it sadness that so many of us won’t ever bake our own biscuits and eat an inferior processed product that ‘costs’ often less than making them; or so we are led to believe. It certainly is worthy of contemplation to consider what we are actually eating and receiving in each case. If you haven’t seen the movies Chocolat or Babette’s Feast, they are poignantly powerful illustrations of what nourishment can be found in the conscious kitchen and perhaps great testimony as to why the monastery cook was required to be a highly evolved being…

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