Sunday, March 7, 2010

Tagine Time

I've been working on being more in the moment, taking my time, slowing down. Yesterday climbing the PATH stairs at Exchange Place, for example; I focused on the burn, as I took the steps, rather than just wishing I was at the top already. I don't go to the gym so those stairs are about as much exercise as I get. I'm also concentrating on chord formations more when I play the ukulele - B♭ (the people's key), D (my El Guapo) and the nefarious E. 
Being in the moment takes more time. Time certainly passes more quickly. And I'm taking my time in the kitchen (and took my time getting to the letter T but that's a little something called procrastination). I've started making bread, cooking with dried beans instead of canned and using the tagine more often. Tagines are all about taking your time, cooking low and slow and letting the ingredients get to know one another. 
I got my tagine over a year ago, a gift from Melissa. Just getting it was an adventure. We'd show up and they'd be closed. After a couple tries (lesson: call ahead to make sure they'll be open because if it's slow they just might close), we were inside. They have spices galore in there but this was about picking out a tagine. They have a whole bunch - each unique. It took awhile for us to find the base/top combination that fit well together and was aesthetically pleasing. Well, what I ended up with was more about the fit than looks but I've grown quite attached to it and wouldn't trade it for another. It has delivered some delicious meals.
Tagines are usually made out of clay so cooking with them is a bit different than cooking with a Dutch oven, which, I'd say, they're most like. They're all about keeping steam and juices inside and cooking for a long time. Dutch ovens allow for that high heat initial sear which tagines do not tolerate so well. Try it and your tagine base might end up in two pieces.
So, why a tagine when you could use a Dutch oven? Well, you're cooking in clay. Clay. When was the last time you  cooked anything in clay? The history. Clay is the stuff people have cooked in for millenia (actually I'm not sure how long but longer than cast-iron that's for sure). It's earthy. It's dirt you cook in. (Sure, glass was dirt but it doesn't smell earthy.) I use a tagine because it's earthy, has a cool top and makes for a nice presentation but more than that, it makes me slow down.

1 comment:

Melissa Riker said...

I'm finding that along with being in the moment is the idea of "one thing at a time".

I like this practice of slowing down, and I'm feeling like I can carry it into the busiest of days...
Kind of like remembering to breathe first, and then moving.

this is a great entry - thank you for the lovely honesty, imagery and humor: "Its dirt you cook in"