Tapioca Tribute

 Apricots add a Springtime flavor to our Tapioca Treat

Yesterday I made a Tapioca Treat for my Father’s birthday, which I have to share with you because it is one of those “too good to be true” desserts.

I can’t say my father loved it. It has been a long time since we’ve celebrated with him in person. He would have been 75 this year. But he has been gone almost 20, so now it is a celebration of the heart, an internal tribute to a life that gave life, a personal thanksgiving for his everyday example of nobility in action.

In addition to the endless love, encouragement and opportunities my father showered on us, his five children, he was, for me, a great “spiritual” teacher. He didn’t love the formalities of religion: he was young when his mother died and the Priest who said the Funeral Mass read from the script of another bereaved family, using all the wrong names and describing a very different mother.

That early loss and betrayal preceded the break-up of his family and long, lonely, later-forgotten teen years. Yet, my father was Sattvic ~ wise, clear-minded, generous, curious, fair, smart, philosophical, broad-minded, brave, kind, a safe refuge, and a lot of fun. I often say to myself, not harshly but compassionately, that I haven’t, and may never, live up to the promise of being George L. Plumb’s eldest. But I do my best to pass on the best he gave to us.

Dad

When we were little, he loved gathering us all into the kitchen on a Saturday afternoon 
to make Tapioca and I wanted to remember that with my stepson. So in his honor, I made a special dessert and shared it with my own family, as a flavor of a man they will never meet.

This is a perfect treat for my father’s April birthday not only for its tastes of love reviving connections long lost,  but also because Tapioca is “Kapha-reducing” ~ exactly the action we want from our meals in Springtime. In the Spring, we look to significantly reduce dairy, sugar and heavy grains, while increasing the fibrous foods that make us lighter and warming spices that boost metabolic fires. This Tapioca Recipe is just that. It combines all the digestive benefits of Lassi, with fiber and heart-loving betacarotene from Apricots, and the low-calorie, high-energy boost of Tapioca ~ without any sugar added. I hope you enjoy it!

Tapioca Pearls

Apricot Tapioca Pudding

Tapioca Pearls, 1/3 cup
Water, 2 cups
Dried Apricots, 10-12
Ghee, 1 Teaspoon (Coconut Oil for Vegan)
Cinnamon, 1/2 Teaspoon
Ginger, 1/8 teaspoon
Clove, 2 Shakes
Cardamom, 2 Shakes
Nutmeg, Dash
Asafoetida, Dash
Rock Salt, Pinch
Honey, 2 Tablespoons
Plain Yogurt, 1 cup

Boil 1 and 1/3 cups of water and add the tapioca pearls. Stir, reduce heat, cover. After ten minutes, check. It is done when the pearls have dissolved and it looks like melted glue.

Meanwhile, melt the ghee in a saucepan on medium low heat. Add the spices and saute one minute. Toss in the apricots and stir to coat throughly. Turn up the heat and add the remaining water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and allow to simmer about ten minutes, until the tapioca is done.

Put the apricots with the water, now more of a juice, into a blender. Mix until the apricots are minced. Add the yogurt and the tapioca and blend lightly. If the mixture is cooled to a temperature that does not burn to the touch, add the honey and blend one final time. Otherwise, you can drizzle the honey over it once served. It should be the consistency of pudding with a light peach color.

You can also just stir it all together if you don’t have a blender. That is how I made it for my Ayurveda Spring Detox Cooking Class. Just be sure, if you do it that way, that you give the apricots a good fine chop before you stew them.

Garnish with a dusting of freshly grated nutmeg, a mint or basil leaf, chopped glazed pecans or pine nuts, a touch of orange zest for color and zing. Or, just grab a spoon and dig in. Yum!

Apricot Tapioca Pudding

Not too long ago, referring to my father, my college roommate said, “We all want our own George.”  He knew how to lift you up, make you laugh, nourish your mind, feed your soul. He would impart wisdom in easy gestures, subtle ways.

Even in making a straightforward dish like Apricot Tapioca Pudding, for example, I wonder at the world: its diversity, flavors, inventiveness, and above all, the potency of Mother Nature to create such delicious, substantial, cleansing foods. For the thought spirals that go from tapioca pearls to cosmic chemistry, while vividly appreciating the simple sensuous tastes of Spring’s profusion, I have my Dad to thank.

I just wish I did more of that while he was here. Thanking, that is. He knew all along what it has taken me decades to painstakingly learn; that is, how to live a Sattvic life, and feed the body according to the seasons.  For that example, and so much more, I am deeply grateful.

My first Yoga Teacher

Thank you, Dad!

The Taste of Love: Chocolate Pâté

Chocolate PateThink about something you love for a moment.

How does that thought make you feel? If you could taste it, what would be its flavor?

Sitting in an Emergency Room earlier this week waiting for my husband to be wheeled off for a CT scan followed by an MRI, I thought about that, the taste of love, and noticed on that day that love’s taste was bitter.

Narayana and Lakshmi, Cosmic Lover and Nature’s Love Goddess

Of course, we normally think of love as sweet, associating it with what we call “comfort” foods ~ Mom’s Mac Cheese, home-baked cookies, warmed milk ~ or with a romantic “diner à deux” with a rich menu of courses, wine, and a sumptuous dessert.

But on that day, under stark hospital lights, love tasted anything but sweet. What if they find a tumor? An aneurysm? Could this unbearable pain he has had for two weeks now be a symptom of something fatal? Or, not fatal but also not curable, not knowable, never-ending?

According to Ayurveda, the sweet taste is the taste that gives us strength, patience, endurance, health. Love is like that, isn’t? It fortifies us. It is grounding, pacifying, reassuring. It makes us more accepting, more generous. It helps us feel whole.

Bitter, on the other hand, is the taste associated with the emotion of loss. Grief has a bitter edge to it. This is not bitter as we usually think of it. Not the bitter of frustrated resentment as in, “My, how bitter she has become since her divorce.” The taste of that emotion would actually be sour, as in “sour grapes.” Combining the elements of fire and earth, sour feelings are like fire buried underground, a subterranean seething.

Cacao Pods

Bitter, instead, relates to letting go, surrender, releasing the old. Its taste combines the elements of air and space. Foods that taste bitter help us lose weight, loosen Ama, unclog the system, lighten up, eliminate toxins, clean wounds, purify the tissues.

Which brings me to Chocolate. Of course.

In its essence, chocolate has a bitter taste. It is almost unpalatable without the leavening of something sweet like sugar, milk, maple syrup, or honey. Chocolate, or choco-late, is cacao, a pure bitter, and “late” meaning milk, a sweet.

Monday helped me understand more fully why chocolate then, is the food of love. True love, enduring love is sweet. It strengthens, affirms, uplifts and expands us.

Aphrodite, Greek Goddess of Love

But deep, pure love is also like a fire. It lights us up. It purifies. It burns away our false, constructed ego, eliminating the toxins of selfishness, defensiveness and pride. It restores innocence, unclogs channels of self-expression and authenticity, renewing energy.  It puts our priorities into proper perspective. It forces us to face our interdependency, bringing to the surface buried fears of inadequacy, loss, annihilation. In this sense, deep love has much in common with the taste of bitter and its effect on us. It purifies.

Bitter and Sweet, chocolate helps us dissolve our mental strategies and resistance to life’s flow, restoring trust so we can melt back into the heart, allow connection, strengthen our bonds of oneness and remember what is true.

Chocolate Love

After Monday, my love for my husband is prioritized. Gone is anything that distracts. It feels clearer, stronger and purer than ever. Best of all, we are fortunate that the thumping, sleep-depriving, shrieking pain was only the result of a pinched nerve. A very pinched, very distressed nerve, but one that is now calmed and finding its way back to normal.

So we have a lot to love and to celebrate this Valentine’s Day. I am going to splurge and make a Chocolate Pâté.

Chocolate Pâté

The simple recipe for this sumptuous dessert lets the chocolate speak for itself, and it doesn’t just speak, it resounds. Loooooooooovvvvvveee ~

Chocolate Pâté

168 grams of 100%  Cacao (Ghirardelli and Scharffen Berger make the perfect Bar)
2/3 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup ghee
1.5 tablespoon Jaggary, or Evaporated Cane Juice

Ingredients

Put all ingredients into a medium size pot and cook over very low heat, stirring constantly. After a few minutes, once chocolate has mostly melted, turn off the heat. Continue to stir until the consistency is smooth and even.

Line the bottom of a small loaf pan with a large piece of cellophane, or parchment paper, leaving excess wrap to hang over the sides. Give the chocolate mixture a few minutes to cool, still stirring, then pour it into the loaf pan. Cover with the wrap, and refrigerate 5 to 6 hours, until firm. Before serving let stand at room temperature one hour, then turn out onto a plate and sprinkle with cocoa or cinnamon powder. Garnish with figs, blueberries, blackberries and serve with Crème Fraîche.

A Dusting of Cinnamon adds Spice

This is such divine succulence from the Mother. With food like this, her eternal, delicious love is hard to deny!

~ Happy Valentine’s Day ~


La Molina

Sally Bernstein has many great ideas for Valentine’s Day over at Sally’s Place, including loads of recipes and gift ideas. That is where I discovered La Molina Gianduja Spread, inspired by La Molina, the chambermaid and chocolatier to 17th century Queen Marie-Therese. Nothing like the love of a good woman!