Today is a day of pause. The morning rose grey blue and fog-covered. I call it “brumineux,” a mix of the French words for luminous and foggy. I am listening to The Oh Hellos and trying to think what I could tell of this week, this world, and what things of use have come my way.
The center closes to the public for five weeks starting tomorrow, so that we, the folks that run this place, can get edjumucated. So that when you come here we can tell you not just what times meals are and where to park your car, but also maybe some useful things about um, you know, the Dharma or something. And also so that we have the opportunity to benefit from the teachings and development we generally devote our time to make available to others.
We started classes this past week. It is both elevating and, erm, hardcore. The topic of last week was suffering. How it happens, why it happens, that’s it is all around us even when we aren’t paying attention to us. Chew on that. Also how to get out of it, fortunately (Yay!). Which is to understand that the self is an illusion and permanence is an illusion. Which I am barely just beginning to have a useful conception of, but if you have questions, go ask a Lama because I am just not there yet. Maybe one day.
In the meantime, I am busy between class sessions cooking for Khenpo Rinpoche, our adorable and unimaginable wise teacher, and also squeezing in moments to make cake and chicken soup for my leetle Dharma family, the members of which have been both having birthdays and getting sick a lot lately. (The Buddha said something about aging and sickness didn’t he? Maybe he was onto something there…).
Cake: this is wacky cake, a one-bowl, no eggs, no dairy chocolate deliciousness. It is Mexican because there is cinnamon, chili, and coconut frosting involved. I made it for the birthday of a wacky Mexican, so it basically couldn’t be more perfect. It’s simple to make, complex in flavor and surprising without tasting weird.
Pictures: I’ve begun doing one a day, roughly, just to keep me drawing. Because I think I’m funny, I call the series “Valeurs Journalières Recommandées,” which is French for Recommended Daily Values. Each image is a drawing and caption of a thing I’m wishing for each day. Not all are things that would be nourishing them, but expressing them is. Here you see, “to calm down a bit,” (still suffering from that old hag insomnia, but better days/nights seem to be slowly arriving), and “to have care for all beings like that of Khenpo Rinpoche” because his care for beings is boundless and gentle and full of humor, and that, my friends, does a being good. I can testify.
Wacky Mexican Cake
For the cake:
1 1/2 cups (155 grams) white whole wheat flour
1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
4 tablespoons (30 grams) cocoa powder
1 teaspoon (5 mL) of baking soda
1 teaspoon (5 mL) cayenne pepper
1 (5 mL) teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 (3 mL) teaspoon salt
1 (240 mL) cup of water
6 tablespoons (90 mL) of oil
1 tablespoon (15 mL) of apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon (5 mL) of vanilla extract
For the icing:
2 tablespoons (15 grams) of butter, melted
4-6 tablespoons (60-90 mL) of heavy cream*
1/4 cup (20 grams) toasted unsweetened desiccated coconut*
3 cups (300 grams) icing sugar
*You can use dairy-free alternatives for a fully vegan, dairy-free cake.
Preheat the oven to 350 ˚ F (175˚ C). Line a nine-inch cake pan with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, sift together all the dry ingredients plus the sugar. Whisk until evenly distributed. Measure in the wet ingredients, and stir just until combined. Pour into the cake pan and bake 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs. Set aside to cool.
For the frosting, sift the confectioner’s sugar into a bowl. Whisk in half the coconut. Mix in the melted butter. Add the cream, one tablespoon at a time, until you reach a spreadable consistency. Spread the icing over the cooled cake and sprinkle the remaining coconut on top. Serve to a wacky Mexican, if you can find one, or whoever you happen to have around, if not.