Updated: Jun 2, 2022
We dedicate this section to the memory of past Macrobiotic teachers from my own experiences with stories, anecdotes, recipes, writings, and references for future study.
I have been encouraged to share my firsthand recollections, especially those who can no longer be able to themselves.
I was introduced to Macrobiotics when I was 21 in 1970. I went to St. Thomas on a college winter break with a friend. I was very into photography, and while walking on the beach, I noticed the most beautiful man sitting peacefully. He was very handsome with a silver sculpted beard. I approached him and asked if I could photograph him, and he said yes. So, I took several pictures, and he and his companions began to ask about us.
I was entirely unaware of who these people were. As we all laughed and talked, my very savvy friend asked me if I knew who they were. I did not. Although, the more I looked at the one person sitting behind my camera's intended started to look surprisingly familiar. I kept asking, "are you? No, are you? He kept grinning quietly at me. Finally, I turned to my friend and asked if he was who I thought he was. She was sure and said he was Tony Perkins, the actor. I was shocked. I had had a crush on him when I was ten years old, and he was in the film "Tall Story." Right in front of me was someone I thought was the living end, and I met him. The handsome gentleman turned out to be Jerry Robbins, a famous choreographer. Well, we all became friends. Tony and his partner invited us to New York on many occasions. And they had an enormous effect on my life from then on. He made me question what I was eating and when I was eating. It put me in the direction of searching out health food stores to find more healthy food choices. It was 1970, and in Philadelphia, there were very few choices. I have Tony to thank for changing my life in the direction he put me.
One day I found Essene Natural Foods, one of the few health stores. As it turned out, my girlfriend from high school was the cashier. She invited me to come to this "study house" where she was living. So I went, and the fellow who greeted me offered me tea with soy sauce. The kitchen had an earthy smell that I loved and just wanted to indulge. That was my introduction to Macrobiotics. Denny Waxman was running this house and needed a breakfast cook, so I volunteered. While I was there, a group of Japanese Macrobiotic teachers came to offer a teaching program. Cornellia Aihara gave a cooking class and prepared a fully balanced Macrobiotic meal. That first meal was so memorable; I could not believe it.
I went to Michio Kushi's lecture and was impressed by what he had to say, especially about predictions for future generations. I also took a week-long class with Shizuko Yamamoto on Shiatzu. She was excellent, the stories she told of her own experiences, and the effects of her foot massage only added to my intense awakening. It all made so much sense. I managed to purchase the two main books by Georges Ohsawa, The Book of Judgment and Zen Macrobiotics. It was exceedingly difficult to eat the way they were teaching because it was very salty, and the resources for ingredients were limited. There was only Hatcho miso, too strong for us young Americans, who were used to a meat-based diet with soda and lots of sugar foods, a giant leap and worth the plunge.
I began to know Cornellia by participating in the French Meadows summer camp kitchen. It was such a wonderful experience. We would all meet in the wee early morning, very chilly in the mountain air. The fires were already started, and everyone would hover around until we got our directions from Cornellia. We would prepare for the morning breakfast, which was always the leftover grains, beans, veggies, etc., all cooked together all night on low embers. The breakfast was for all the kitchen cooks, children, and some elders. Then, we would work all morning preparing lunch. Cornellia had all the menus planned. She was a master at being able to design a daily menu spread over ten days with no refrigeration. It all worked. The light foods that do not last are prepared first. By the end of the camp, she would serve spaghetti with fresh tomato sauce. Everyone was crazy about it. So here are some recipes by her I remember so well and enjoyed.
From: The Do of Cooking by Cornellia Aihara
From: The Do of Cooking by Cornellia Aihara
How to Cook Dried Beans
Use a stainless-steel strainer to catch the foam
from the beans.
These directions are for dried beans, except for lentils and split peas. They don't need to soak, but they do need to defoam.
Wash the beans in a bowl, use your hand to smooth around them, pour off, start over with fresh water in the bowl, then carefully lift out the beans little by little, checking for any stones, gravel, sand, etc. When you get to the bottom, be careful only to lift out the beans, but not any water.
Soak the beans in the new bowl, cover them with at least one inch of water, and protect against dust with a cover.
You can soak overnight or anytime, usually around 8 hours or until they expand.
Some people use soaking water; I prefer to give it to my plants, compost, or worm farm. Start again with fresh water. Transfer the beans to the cooking pot, where you do not want ANY sand, etc., to be added to the pot. Lift the beans carefully, watching as they go into the pot; use your hand. According to the recipe, add the Kombu and freshwater after they are all in the pot. Be on the side of more because beans get very starchy and thicken towards the end. Bring the pot to a boil with no lid. Once boiling, watch for the foam to rise, use a small flat stainless-steel strainer to lift off the foam, and discard. I may need to do it twice. Lower the flame and use a heat diffuser to prevent sticking. Cook for about 45 minutes in a pressure cooker; without pressure, it may take a couple of hours, depending on the bean. Once soft, add salt and simmer for at least 40 minutes. Then, add soy sauce for seasoning. I only add soy sauce at the end and never boil it again.
*TIP: Miso and soy sauce are alive foods, they contain active enzymes, waiting to be awakened as a probiotic and join your micro biome family. If they are boiled, they die. So always be conscious of not boiling once added. It is so easy to make mistakes.
*TIP: Do not stir beans until done, it releases the starch causing the bottom to stick or burn. Perfect beans will have a clean bottom of the pan at the end of cooking.
*My TIP: If you want to use the beans for future dishes to keep longer, separate some first, then add vegetables to the ones you will be using right away. Beans by themselves can keep for a good week in the fridge.
Add the sea salt after the beans are soft. If added initially, they do not cook properly; adding Kombu adds minerals to the beans and makes them more digestible, meaning no gas if you get my meaning. Remember the old saying:
"Beans, Beans are good for the heart; the more you eat,
The more you fart, the more you fart, the better you feel,
So, eat beans at every meal."