Preparation is a part of a mindfulness bike ride. The way you plan to take the trip, the way you nourish yourself before the trip. Every part of the process that works up to the ride, can be done with intention and mindfully. One of the first practices done in mindfulness is eating a raisin, or a piece of chocolate mindfully. Doing something as simple as stopping to eat a raisin shows how much we take for granted, and how mindlessly we do mundane things.
On a mindfulness bike ride the same practice can be drinking water. Here is what you should do:
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Shojin Ryori - The Art of Japanese Vegetarian Cuisine
Shojin Ryori, The Art of Japanese Vegetarian Cuisine by Danny Chu is a very beautiful book from cover to cover. As I am writing this review about it, it kind of feels like the review should be in Haiku form. There is a sort of a Zen calmness just flipping through it. This is fitting, as Shojin Ryori is Japanese Temple food.
The name Shojin Ryori comes Shojin meaning vigour and energy, and Ryori meaning cuisine. Making Shojin Ryori food is a practice of spirituality in the Zen Buddhist tradition in Japan. The key aspects are mindful presence in making the food. Starting from the preparation, all the way to the presentation and eating.
Danny Chu studied traditional temple cooking in Japan and took what he learned from Japan to Singapore, where he opened a Shojin Ryori restaurant. His backstory is quite interesting, as before, he was a foreign currency trader. He left the corporate world to learn more about Shojin Ryori.
Buddhism teaches that you should not take a life, so Shojin Ryori is completely vegetarian. Actually you could call it vegan, as eggs or milk are not allowed. The idea is to minimize any wastage of ingredients and to draw out the natural flavour of each ingredient. To have a balance and a harmony in life. To create simple, delicious, healthy food with always seasonal ingredients, without using artificial ingredients. But, it is not all about those things, Shojin Ryori is also about enjoyment and light heartedness.
Recipes range from very simple ones, like Shiso Rice, with only a few ingredients, to Ganmodoki (tofu fritters), which have more ingredients. None of them are super complicated and the focus is on simplicity. The techniques might need to be done more than once, as they can be a little intricate at times. That is, if you want the result to be as beautiful as in the book.
Some ingredients are hard to find where I am at, and some ingredients are seasonal, so you might have to wait for a while to get your hands on them.
The book starts with an introduction and some basic preparations, like how to make a dashi and how to make proper Japanese rice (more on that below). Then, menus for each season. As said before, Shojin Ryori is very much seasonal. Not just with when to get ingredients, but also what should be eaten during a season.
For me the best recipe in the book to describe what Shojin Ryori is all about is the rice cooking instructions. You’ve done many times I sure, I’ve done many, many times. But Shojin Ryori way shows you all the steps in order to make the perfect rice. It is nothing too complicated, but the instructions show you the mindset that goes into cooking the Shojin Ryori way.
How to cook japanese rice the right way
220g Japanese short-grain rice
The water from washing rice can be used to boil vegetables or water plants in your garden. This is Shojin philosophy of minimising wastage.