To Eat the Sun: Pêches Aux Nuages

Peches Aux Nuages: Peaches on a Cloud

After our Zen Mountain Retreat earlier this month, Jen Carpenter, a recent graduate of the Deep Yoga Mastery of Life Yoga Teacher Training, continued with her own Retreat in the Sierras. When she returned she shared with us this beautiful experience of awakening:

On the second morning of solitude, I received— totally out of the blue— the vision I’d been crying out for on my meditation rock all along the previous day.

When I awoke it was still cold. The sun had yet to cross the high ridge to the east. but the voice of the guru within me urged me to go to the lake for an early morning swim.

It’s a voice entirely my own, but strong and wise, a voice that knows what it knows from the heart of my heart.

I trust it. I follow the path down to the lake.

I take a deep breath and slip into the cold water. As I swim the sun crests the pass and illuminates the basin, first inch by inch, then in wild insouciant steps of ever more light towards me. I am bathed in it. I stand up tall, grounded in dark-wet underwater earth, the air around me clear and bright.

There it is, in plain sight: my reflection in the lake, my shadow. Surrounded by bright white light. As the clear water drops from my body into the lake around me, the angle of the morning sun refracts just so. And there it is: rainbows, millions of them, dancing in halos of light from my shadow, my heart center sending out ripples of color like a gigantic prism. The ripples grow from my body and expand out into the lake.

I am a small body. The world is a great cold lake. And yet, and yet—

I can stand tall and reflect, radiate and expand like a brilliant rainbow the white light of dawn— endlessly, because it is the light of god (for I am but a lantern)— and with the whole of my being I devote myself to this vision and this promise: let me be a clear vessel for your light— a perfect prism. Let my heart be a lighthouse by which all other hearts may find their way home, safe and sound in your love.

Jen’s Photograph of that Dawn

I can’t put in words how beautiful this vision was, how it made my whole heart cry out with the ecstasy of remembering, like a buried  treasure found at the bottom of a cold lake, or a bright strong fire at the center of a dark forest— I can’t say there would be even a point to it, but I write to remember this vision always, to carry it within that heart of hearts that knows, and to awaken that same truth in each being who listens for we are all that—

And I know who I am. And I know what my place is in this world. And I know where to go from here. And I will walk this path with courage, and joy, and loving-kindness, and the utmost gratitude.

~

That evening Jen came to my Yoga class. I told her who much I loved her writing and appreciated her sharing this experience with us.  I then asked her what she ate after that experience: what she had for breakfast that day. She looked at me perplexed.

“In other words,” I asked, “What would be the ideal thing to eat after an experience like this?  How do you feed that light?”

Without hesitation she said, “Peaches!”

Peaches Feeding on Light

I lived a bit of eternity in France where summers in the Aquitaine were especially timeless. In that early evening blue-y green light of the gloaming, we’d pick our meals from the fields. Not much later, just as the sun loosed its last ray, we’d sit to dine au jardin.

By the time dessert would come it was usually something fresh, something sweet-sour, something home-made of course, something grown from that soil of time immemorial, something that had been daily collecting and preserving sunlight, something that in its own miraculous way had metamorphosed sunlight into pure ambrosial sweetness.

These were desserts that told a story of summer. They had depth, natural elegance, integrity.

So when Jen mentioned that Peaches are the food that most makes her feel like she is eating the radiance of the sun,  it recalled sweetly lit memories of fresh peaches tasting like bursting rays of sunshine and French creams soft and soothing like the gentle moon. It inspired me to create this little velvety concoction: Pêches Aux Nuages, or peaches floating on clouds of almond delight.

Pêches Aux Nuages: Sunlit Peaches on an Almond Cloud

This recipe calls for a few ingredients that you may not have already in your pantry. First, Irish Moss is carried at People’s ~ where Jen works, by the way. If you know what that is, you’ll know where it is. If not, you can order it here. Second, there may be no greater love than Mother Nature’s gift of the Coconut and Coconut Manna is the treasure of that love in a jar. But if you can’t find Coconut Manna (yes, it has to be Manna), fresh coconut meat would be a great substitute, with even more of that fresh, vibrant life force. But as it is wetter, you’ll likely want to reduce the amount of Almond Milk/Coconut Oil to compensate.

Finally, lecithin is an emulsifier binding the liquids and oils. It also protects cells from oxidation, nourishes nerve tissue, provides a feast of B vitamins and breaks down stored fats in the body, so it is wonderful for you ~ however, it is often genetically modified. Be sure your purchase clearly states “Non-GMO” on the label. If you can’t find it, skip it. The “cloud” will still be delicious. Same goes for the Irish Moss. The taste will be the same without it, the cloud just won’t set. Instead, you’ll have Peaches on a River. Which is very French. You can call it, “Pêches aux Coulis.”

To serve this, I use an ice cream scoop to create a billowing cumulus on the plate. The peaches are then beautiful arrayed around the clouds and also set inside the curls so they peek through just like the rays of the sun.

Click on Recipe for Print Version

When your heart cries out with the ecstasy of remembering, or with the longing to remember, this is that taste of Heaven ~ resplendent, prismatic nourishment.

I look forward to having Jen over to try this ~ although she is already so full of light, she might break open, become the sun and illuminate the whole world.

The tag line on Jen’s Blog reads, “married to amazement,” and her writing is beautiful indeed because she is so heartfully and amazingly awe-drenched. If you would like more of her, head on over to her Singing Bowls Blog.

Singing Bowls invites you to the Heart

Meanwhile, please let us know, by writing in the Comment box below, what you eat when you want to feed your light. I look forward to hearing what captures your imagination. What a rainbow of delights your contributions will be!

In honor of the light within you, in honor of the Love that surrounds you, in awe of the eternal river of life that runs through ~

Namaste!

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!