Ch'ang Ming Diet
Of course as with any subject based on Taoist philosophy the best way is to start with some basic principles and experiment for yourself. And for those of you who already know how to cook then you really only have to take the basic principles outlined already, a pinch of common sense, two tablespoons of well seasoned patience, and I think you will find that most recipes you know can be easily adapted to a chang ming diet. Especially these days with so many cookery programs and modern chefs becoming ever more aware of the principles of natural eating. This is how I learned for myself and you will find few of the great artists went to art school.
However to get the ball rolling here are some basic recipe ideas you can experiment with and modify for yourselves.
Whole meal or Brown rice is best, organic and short grain is preferable. Add in some wild rice for variety and flavour.
1 Cup of rice to 3 cups of water. You can roast the rice first in a pan till golden brown if you like. Then add the water, a little sea salt and teaspoon of oil, and bring to the boil. Put a lid on the pan , turn the heat off and allow the pan to cool naturally.
When the pan is cool you will find that the liquid has been absorbed but the grains are not all glued together, this makes the rice ideal for stir frying. This is the traditional method and gives the best results, but it does require a little patience A quicker method is to roast the rice as above then boil the rice with some sea slat in water for about twenty minutes till most of the water has gone then turn the heat off and allow it to cook very gently for another twenty or so minutes or until the moisture is nearly all gone. If you are in a hurry a pressure cooker does the job in about ten minutes. Try to avoid aluminium, stainless steel or ceramic cookware is best. You can cook a few days worth and store it in the refrigerator or freezer, it can then be steamed or stir fried. Never store cooked rice at room temperature, allow the cooked rice to cool completely and then store it chilled in the fridge. Never leave it in the pan, always transfer it to a ceramic container for storage after it has cooled sufficiently.
You can make enough rice to last for a few days in this way which cuts down on the time you spend each day on cooking, of course with a little forethought you can start the rice going before you begin preparing vegetables etc so it's all ready at the same time. Brown Rice is very good if you want to try a cleansing Grain Diet, this should be grains only for 3 - 5 days.
Egg Fried Rice
Get some peas, petit pois, sweet corn, and some mushrooms, garlic, vegetarian bacon, whatever. Cooked rice.
Heat a wok with oil till its smoking then get some cooked rice and stir fry it for about a minute, add the other stuff, lightly pre cooked if necessary, and stir fry for another five minutes or so depending on quantities, don't over do it. Add some beaten free range eggs and stir fry rapidly till all the egg is cooked, you will see the mixture separates. Eat while its hot. Experiment a bit with quantities till you are happy.
Stir Fry (Sautée)
Obtain a wok, this is a chinese pan with a rounded bottom, if you have an electric cooker then the flat bottom type will probably be easier to use. Use a wide variety of fresh organic vegetables of your choice, locally grown is best.
You can also add pine nuts, sesame seeds, pumpkin or sunflower seeds or cashew nuts for some extra flavour and texture, all good sources of protein.
Season the wok by heating some oil in it until its smoking then allow it to cool, do this regularly and after a while a coating will build up on the inside of the wok, do not clean with detergent or hot water or it may rust, use cold water and a wooden scraper if you must, this is the traditional cleaning method.
Get some vegetables and chop them into matchsticks, cut the hardest vegetables smaller such as carrots, softer things larger. Also cut up some garlic and fresh herbs such as mint, rosemary, thyme etc.
Heat the wok until its smoking, start cooking the root vegetables first, soft things last. Keep stirring the vegetables round and you will see the colours get brighter and brighter. After a few minutes they will start to go dull, this is overcooking, so before this happens remove from heat and serve. Add a little soy sauce for flavour, or vegetable stock, oyster sauce, black bean sauce etc. Practice and trial and error are needed till proficiency is obtained depending on the quantities used. The vegetables should be crispy but not hard, and not mushy or soggy.
Without a doubt making a proper sauce is essential to bring out the flavour of any kind of foods and especially when changing to a vegetarian diet which some people who have been used to highly flavoured foods including vinegar sugar and spices and so on may find a little bland to start with until their taste buds have started to re-grow.
In my experience a good base for any sauce is to make a roux, this means frying a few spoonfuls of wholemeal flour first until it is browned, otherwise you get a very gloopy and pasty tasting sauce. The oils become saturated into the individual particles of flour in this way and fluff them up and separate them so they don't cling together to make a smooth emulsion with the flour held in suspension. To improve the flavour you can lightly fry some chopped garlic and diced onions in the oil first. Also some sliced mushrooms, chopped chives and other fresh herbs such as mint, sage, marjoram, thyme, oregano and so on. My favourite is dill but especially some dill seeds or fennel or caraway seeds which will have to cook in the stock for a few minutes to bring out the flavour.
A good shop bought stock for this sauce is Kallo french onion or mushroom stock cubes. You can also buy dried wild mushrooms such as shitake and chanterelles from the deli which really bring out the mushroom flavour.
Three root soup.
Ideal for wintry days or as a starter, more roots should be eaten in winter.
Dice some carrots, swede and parsnips.
Fry a little chopped garlic and diced onion in some oil in a large pan (steel cookware is better don't use aluminium pans, throw them away),
then add the diced root veg and stir fry them slowly over a moderate heat until they start to brown and soften, add a little flour and make sure it is properly browned. Then add some fresh herbs such as rosemary, sage, thyme, marjoram, dill or basil. Next add some vegetable stock for example Kallo onion stock cubes from the whole food store. Gently simmer the lot until the roots are soft then liquidize it once it has cooled slightly, put it back on the heat until it starts to bubble then add a little more stock or soya milk it if's too thick. I like to add a little Natex or yeast extract at this point to bring out the flavour. Serve it with caraway seeds and wholemeal croutons sprinkled on the top, the croutons are especially nice if you cook them in a little oil and garlic until they go brown.
Make some wholemeal pastry, say 4-8 ounces of (self-raising) wholemeal flour and half that amount of unhydrogenated margarine and a pinch or sea salt, run the flour and marg thru your fingers until it appears to be like breadcrumbs, then roll it into a ball, add a little cold water or soya milk if it wont stick. Knead it a bit until the consistency is even, add a little flour if it's too sticky, water if it's got cracks in and falls apart. Flour a chopping board and roughly roll the pastry out into a circle, use a bottle if you haven't got a rolling pin. Grease a quiche dish or some other ovenproof dish with some margarine and line it with the pastry. Blind bake it for 15 mins in a pre-heated oven at gas mark 5 (190 deg C).
Blanche some fresh organic asparagus, cut off the ends if they are tough, say steam it for 10 mins until soft. Beat 3 or 4 free range organic eggs in a small bowl, put the asparagus in the bottom of the pastry lined dish then pour the egg mixture over it and sprinkle some grated low fat vegetarian mature cheddar cheese on top, add some fresh chopped herbs like rosemary or dill, fennel, mint etc, now return it to the oven and bake for half an hour or so gas mark 5 as before. Test it with a knife, the knife should come out clean if pushed into the centre of the dish. If the top looks browned and you haven't made it too deep it should be okay but every oven is different so there's no hard and fast rule here you'll just have to experiment. Basically a wide flat dish will cook quicker than a small deep one but make sure the eggs are cooked properly before you eat it or you may get indigestion. Serve it with some brown rice and you can also add a sauce such as a roux flavoured with some of the cheese, mushroom, or onion stock etc.
You can make your own variations such as broccoli quiche, or try different cheeses, or if you don't like cheese then yeast flakes can be coaxed into a credible tasting alternative although they wont bubble the way cheddar does. You could maybe add some pine nuts or other seeds, some tofu if you don't want to eat as much eggs, lightly fried onion rings, chopped up vegetarian bacon, or mushroom quiche is also nice - fry the mushrooms in a little oil with garlic first - in fact you can experiment with a mixture of vegetables and other ingredients once you've got the basic idea. It's always a good idea to pre-cook the stuff to some degree to speed the process up, especially make sure the basic pastry base has had enough time or you will be eating pasty tasting raw flour which can upset your stomach.
If you don't want to wait the full 45 mins you can cheat by lightly pre-cooking the eggs until they are like very runny scrambled eggs then adding them to the pastry case and vegetables and just pop it in the oven for 10-15 mins to harden it off.
Chicken and mushroom pie
Make some wholemeal pastry (as above) in a pie dish and blind bake in a pre-heated oven as above, leave some aside for the top of the pie. Make a roux with some flour, garlic, chopped onions and onion stock and a little soya milk. Fry the mushrooms in oil and garlic. Dice the chicken and cook it lightly in a frying pan with some oil and garlic until it is slightly browned, don't overdo it or it will be tough, don't undercook it though or you might get sick. Cut the biggest chunk in two and make sure it's not pink inside and you should be ok. Combine the sauce, mushrooms and chicken with some freshly chopped herbs and put then in the pie case then put the lid on a and brush with a little beaten egg then put it in the oven for 30 minutes (gas mark 5 190 deg C) or so until it starts to bubble and the lid is browned. You may want to add some pastry decoration or holes in the lid of the pie(s). Results will vary depending on your oven so you may need to experiment with cooking times as above.
(Vegans may want to try Tofu instead of the chicken but it's not quite the same.)
Soak some whole food lasagne sheets in a bowl of boiled water and a pinch of sea-salt, even if it says on the packet that you don't need to. You can add some oil to stop the sheets from sticking. Meanwhile make a cheese sauce, vegetarian low fat mature cheddar is best: make a roux by frying the flour then add soya milk or skimmed milk instead of stock and once you have simmered it and it starts to thicken add grated cheese to taste, don't cook it after this or it will become rubbery. If you want to cut down on the cheese you can fake it a bit with some natex, yeast extract, yeast flakes etc. Steam various vegetables until they are soft and fry some diced onion and mushrooms in garlic, or for seafood lasagne stir fry some prawns in garlic, vegans: chop and fry some tofu until brown with suitable flavouring or use smoked tofu or marinate your tofu in a little soya sauce to improve the flavour. If you are feeling particularly adventurous you may want to experiment with vegetarian mince, tvp or such but tbh it's an acquired taste. A nice touch is to fake the traditional Italian tomato sauce which goes with the filling with some liquidized carrots and a little beetroot to give the right reddish colour.
Get a lasagne dish or large flat ovenproof dish and pour some cheese sauce on the bottom, then layer the lasagne sheets with cheese sauce, and then your filling and a few freshly chopped herbs from the garden, rosemary, basil, or chives is good. Each time make sure the lasagne sheets are coated with sauce and you will need three or more layers of sheets and filling. Top it off with the last layer of lasagne, cheese sauce, and then grated cheese on top. For the full authentic effect sprinkle a little parmesan too.
Pre-heat the oven to 190 deg C as above then put the dish in for about 30-45 minutes until you see its browned and started bubbling. Most of your ingredients will have been pre-cooked so it doesn't matter too much on the exact cooking time although the flavour will improve with time as long as it doesn't start to burn. Serve with steamed broccoli and carrots etc and some brown rice if you think you need it.
You can add variety to the basic recipe with all kinds of stuff including roasted seeds or nuts and various steamed vegetables. You can also try a similar thing with cannelloni although it's a bit more fiddly.
Apple pie and custard
Make some wholemeal pastry as above, leave enough for the lid and line a pie dish, blind bake for 15 mins gas mark 5.
Stew some sliced organic apples, you might like to try keeping the skins on as this preserves most of the vitamins which are located just below the skin. I know people like to use cooking apples in cooking but I find them very acidic so I use eating apples. Stewing means lightly simmering them in a small amount of water with a spoonful of honey, add a teaspoonful of cinnamon too if you like.
Put the cooked apple slices into the pie case then cover and brush with beaten egg mixed with a little soya milk. Bake in the oven at mark 5 for 30 mins or so until the top is browned and the apples are bubbling, may need longer depending on your oven.
Get some maize meal, the finer the grains the better. Usually people use corn flour which is refined maize meal. Mix with a little cold soya milk taken from a litre then put the rest on to boil. You will probably need much larger quantities than with corn flour. Add some honey and vanilla essence or a vanilla pod or two. Pour the cornmeal mixture into the boiling milk and return to the hob until it starts to bubble and thicken, you may need to cook it for up to 5 minutes for it to thicken properly - stir it all the time and heat gently to avoid sticking. If you undercook the flour it will taste pasty and bitter, if you overcook it then it will stick to the bottom of the pan and burn tainting the entire mixture, if you catch it in time then transfer it to a new pan.
Cut a slice of the apple pie and serve with the maize custard poured over the top.
You can add variety with other fruits mixed in, especially in summer some english soft fruits are nice but make sure they are cooked properly to get rid of the acidity. Some dried fruit is also good for variety but it's a good idea to cook it in boiling water for a while first, dried apricots are nice but not the bright orange ones which have been treated with sulphur dioxide, or dates etc. Always check the label if you are buying packets of dried fruit and make sure they do not contain extra sugar or preservatives such as sulphur dioxide.
Similar to above but you just put the cooked fruit mixture straight into an ovenproof dish and cover the top with a mixture of half the amount of margarine mixed with some oats and wholemeal flour plus some honey to taste. Vary the ingredients to your own liking, some people use unrefined sugar to stick the crumble together but honey is better for your health.
Put 125g or 4 ounces of wholemeal flour in a bowl, make a well in the middle and add a large free range egg, stir in 300ml or half a pint of soya milk, and a teaspoon of oil and a pinch of sea salt. Beat the mixture till smooth with a whisk. Alternatively put the ingredients into a blender till smooth. The batter improves if left for at least 15 minutes before you use it. (This batter is also suitable for toad in the hole - basically pour iot over some veggie sausages and stick in the oven for 30 minutes until cooked - as well as various other recipes requiring batter such as tempura, drop scones, waffles etc.)
Making the pancakes
Heat a frying pan and a little oil till its smoking, pour some of the mixture in and move the pan around until the base is covered. After a minute or so, when you see the pancake is solidifying and starts to bubble up, angle the pan down so the pancake slides to the edge then smartly flip the edge of the pan up, launching the pancake into the air and position the pan to catch it on the way down with the uncooked side down. Don't use too much force or the pancake may stick to the ceiling, if this happens don't worry, scrape it off using a spatula and a ladder and start again.
This is an Art in itself and requires some practice.
Fill with stir fried or steamed vegetables or a sweet filling such as some cooked fruit, apples and dried apricots that have been boiled in a little water and a teaspoon of honey are nice, also some lightly toasted flaked almonds or cashew nuts, fold the pancakes over the filling and finish off with a light coating of soya cream, maple syrup etc.
Ideal for lasagne and various italian dishes.
Lightly fry some onions and garlic then add plenty of sliced carrots and a little beetroot, continue to Sautée the vegetables until they're soft. You will have to experiment to get the exact colour but as a rough guide I would say one part beetroot to ten parts carrot, depending on how bright your carrots and beetroot are. Now add some wholemeal flour and cook until it's browned as if you were making a roux adding stock and cooking until the mixture has thickened to a sauce like consistency. Put the whole concoction into a blender and add some more stock or a little soya milk if it's too thick. The acid test is to make a spaghetti bolognese or lasagne and don't tell your intended victims there's no tomato involved.