TAKING CARE OF THE SELF: Cooking with Bodhichitta
Eating is such a common activity that we often forget that it also has the potential to be a powerful way to benefit ourselves and others. With a proper motivation, cooking and eating really can transform food into spiritual fuel. What follows is a vegan dessert recipe by Tsültrim Davis, currently spiritual program coordinator at Kurukulla Center in Massachusetts, USA, perfect for autumn when large squash, like pumpkins, are readily available.
3/4 c. whole wheat flour
3 tbsp. white sugar
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
Pinch of salt
2 tbsp. canola or vegetable oil
2 tsp. molasses
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2(+) tbsp. soy milk (or other non-dairy milk)
1 c. raw, unsalted cashews, soaked at least 3 hours if not overnight
1 tbsp. + 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
3 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 pkg. tofu, firm or extra firm (14 – 15 oz.)
Pinch of salt
1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin puree
1 c. white sugar
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 – 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder
2 tbsp. all purpose flour
1/4 c. cold water
1 tbsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. agar-agar powder
(If desired, the soaked cashews, apple cider vinegar and half of the lemon juice can be substituted for 8 to 12 ounces of commercially available vegan cream cheese).
Prepare the Crust:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit [177 degrees Celsius]. Line the bottom of a 9” spring form pan with parchment paper, or grease.
2. In a large bowl, sift together all dry ingredients and mix. Make a well in the center and add all wet ingredients except the soy milk. Whisk with a fork until everything is crumbly.
3. Drizzle in the soymilk and combine. Mix by hand, as needed, until dough forms a pliable ball. You may need an extra tablespoon of soy milk.
4. Press dough into the bottom of prepared pan. It should just fill out the bottom of the pan, approximately 1/4” thick all the way around. This recipe is easily doubled for a different size pan or to make home-made graham crackers. Once the dough is spread out on bottom of pan, use a fork to score, poking holes halfway through the dough, every inch or so.
5. Bake for approximately 14 to 16 minutes, depending on how crispy you want the crust to be. Remove from the oven to cool. Leave the oven temperature set where it is.
Prepare the Filling:
6. In a food processor (a blender is okay, too, but will require a bit more patience and work) blend the soaked and drained cashews, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice and vanilla extract. Puree until relatively smooth, and then add in the tofu, broken into chunks, and the pumpkin. Continue to puree until no longer grainy. This may take 3 to 5 minutes.
7. Once it is smooth, add in sugar, spices and flour, and continue to puree to thoroughly incorporate.
8. Dissolve the cornstarch and agar-agar powder in the cold water in a small saucepan. Turn on medium-high heat, and as stir constantly. As soon as the mixture starts to boil and turns into a gooey consistency, add this into the food processor and puree for an additional minute to ensure it is fully incorporated.
9. Pour the filling into the prepared crust, and bake (still at 350 degrees Fahrenheit [177 degrees Celsius]) for 50 minutes. Turn down oven to 325 degrees and bake for at least another 20 to 30 minutes. The center of the cheesecake should rise and be even with the edges (it will sink a little again as the cheesecake sets, though). If the top begins to darken too quickly, loosely cover the top with a piece of aluminum foil. Do not open the oven door, causing sudden temperature shifts, more than necessary.
10. Cheesecake should be level and only just a little jiggly when it comes out of the oven. Put in the fridge and let set for at least 3 to 5 hours before serving.
Tsültrim Davis received his Masters of Divinity in Buddhist Ministry from Harvard Divinity School in 2010. During the years prior to that he served as the leader of student Buddhist communities at various universities, worked on the spiritual care team of a community and resource center for people living with HIV/AIDS in the greater Boston area and served as a hospital chaplain at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. He continues to offer hospice care and counseling to both Buddhists and non-Buddhists in central Massachusetts. Motivated by animal rights’ concerns, he has been vegan since 2001. Offering food to others is a source of great joy in his life, and being able to share food that is not only delicious but helps promote awareness that it is easy to make delicious, animal-free food is an even greater joy. He became involved with Kurukulla Center in 2008 and currently serves as the spiritual program coordinator. Under the kind advice and suggestion of Lama Zopa Rinpoche he plans to soon be move to Sera Je monastery in south India, where he will be ordained by Choden Rinpoche and begin a formal monastic curriculum.
Copies of the first edition of his cookbook, The Compassionate Kitchen: Vegan Desserts from Kurukulla Center, can still be obtained for US$15 (+US$3 shipping and packaging to anywhere in the continental US) by emailing email@example.com. He is hoping to make available a second edition, with over 30 additional recipes, before he leaves for India in the upcoming months. Email the above address for more information.Tags: cooking, recipe, vegan