It’s Food Matters Project Monday. And I herby dedicate this post to the final installment of my food journey series. Thank you for listening to me. For resonating with me. And for staying with me. Many Monday Mornings have been plagued with fret over pressing the virtual button—Publish. In some ways I felt like a fraud. Spending years of my life writing about food and my love for it. Neglecting, until now, to tell you my struggles with it. I don’t have answers. Just a story.
Food Journey Part 5: Purist. I’ve made a full circle. I began these posts talking about why food matters. And then dipped further to talk about why food matters to me. Food has been a struggle for me. We’ve danced. And fought. We’ve loved each other and hated each other. From overeating, to Weight Watchers, to restricted calories. It’s been a journey. One that’s still in the process of unfolding.
Nearing the end of college, I went over to my (now) mother-in-law’s house for dinner. Her friend, Libby, who loves to cook, came over and prepared a meal for us. While sitting at the counter watching her clean the dirt from the leeks, she mentioned being a purist. Such a foreign word to me, the girl who was eating a low-fat, sugar-free diet. Sheepishly I asked her to explain what it meant.
In short, she said—A purist is someone who eats food in it’s purest, most true form. Light bulbs began firing off in my head. This made sense to me. And all the chemically altered, low-fat, sugar-free food in my in my cabinets no longer did. Why choose fake over real? Why choose empty calories over quality calories? No argument could sway me at this point. So The Great Cabinet Cleanse of 2007 went down. Although it made sense, it wasn’t easy. Especially throwing out my 120 calorie, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of sugar per serving ice cream.
Slowly but surely, I began making (almost) everything from scratch. And eventually adopted it as my mantra on the blog. While it can sometimes take more time, there’s something extremely satisfying about making meals from scratch. Buying rice out of the bulk bins and creating my own mixes. Playing with simple ingredients to make beautiful flavor combinations. Plating a meal and taking the credit instead of giving it to Sara or Betty.
Now I’d be lying if I told you I was 100% purist. We buy our bread from the store. I get horrible cravings for Chick-fil-a and let myself cave on a kids meal. We order pizza from time to time. And I let myself get a fountain Coke at the movies a couple times a year.
My food journey has shaped me. Every last bit of it. I don’t regret my overeating—it’s taught me control. I don’t regret Weight Watchers—it’s taught me awareness. I don’t regret restricting my calories. It taught me balance. Control. Awareness. Balance. Each draw a fine line, but one I’ve found worth walking.
If you’re considering making the “made from scratch” switch, start with Mark Bittman’s book—Food Matters Cookbook. Simple recipes. Real food. That don’t sacrifice flavor.
In a large bowl, whisk together flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Make a well in the center and pour in oil and yogurt. Lightly mix. Add in warmed milk and mix until dough comes together. Dough should be soft but not sticky.
Knead for 7 minutes, adding a bit of flour if necessary. Set aside and allow dough to rest for 2 hours. Dough will slightly expand and become more sticky.
Divide dough into 6 equal pieces. On a well floured surface roll out dough. Thicker naan bubbles less when cooking as compared to thinner naan.
Heat a large cast iron skillet on medium-high heat until hot. Add a tiny pat of butter to the skillet. Place one round on the skillet and cover with lid immediately. Allow to cook for 1-2 minutes. Naan will begin to bubble. Flip naan over and cook for another minute.
Remove from heat. Repeat.
Brush with butter if you wish. Serve warm.
• If you have a non-stick pan or an electric stove, cook according to directions. Instead of flipping pan over, place in an oven set to broil. Watch carefully.
• Removing naan from the pan can be finicky. I found allowing the pan to cool a bit helped as well as using a thin flexible spatula.
• Store leftover naan in an air tight container. PS—leftover naan also makes great pizzas!