Happy Solstice! This photo is blurry, but if you look at it like it’s an abstract painting, it works. The colors! It was like that in real life.
And happy Monlam too! I woke up at four this morning to watch the livestream of the final day of Kagyu prayers in Bodh Gaya, and well, I’m a little loopy now for the lost sleep, but it was totally worth it. It’s good to be part of a community that cares about beings.
I’m enjoying the unexpected arrival of Christmas break (yeah, even Buddhists take off for Christmas). Even though I knew it was coming, the fact that I’d get, like, time off, hadn’t really registered until I sent off my fully finished budget and realized I suddenly no longer had a list of grueling, urgent things to do.
Even though I spent most of this week totally exhausted whilst trying to check off all the things on the aforementioned list, now that it’s break, I just feel, like I’m floating. Carried by a breeze. Life is happening, and I get to be part of it.
I have dreams and plans and goals and wishes. I have people to work on them with and exchange field notes along the way. The above comes from the first-ever meeting of Dhagpo’s newly-formed Tibetan language study group. I can very haltingly respond to the question, “What’s your name?” and I can pretty much pronounce the alphabet right (-ish, if I stare at the ceiling and spit a lot for certain letters).
Tomorrow I’m heading to Bordeaux to pick up the sis, for a ground-breaking, non-family-unit Christmas. It’s a little strange, but hey, things change and even if my family doesn’t look the same on Christmas as it used to, I have this feeling that we’re all on the right track even if it’s not easy. And that matters more.
Because Solstice and Christmas and even this pseudo-cold weather we’re having mean making all baked goods loaded with spices, here’s a perfect holiday recipe. Before today, I’d eaten persimmon pudding once in my life (at a friend’s house in high school, homemade by her mom with persimmons from the backyard), but the experience so marked me with its deliciousness that I vowed to one day recreate it. When one of my new English students sent me home with a bag of hachiya persimmons, I knew what was coming down the line. Tender, moist-to-almost-gooey, earthyfruityspicy winter goodness. Also, it’s gluten free, because I can.
Gluten Free Persimmon Pudding
Adapted from Mrs. Reagan’s Persimmon Pudding
1/2 cup (67 grams) brown rice flour*
1/2 cup (45 grams) oat flour*
1/2 teaspoon (3 mL) salt
1/2 teaspoon (5 mL) cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon (3 mL) ginger
1/4 teaspoon (3 mL) allspice
a pinch of cloves
a pinch of nutmeg
3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
6 tablespoons (90 mL) oil
3 tablespoons (45 mL) brandy
1 teaspoon (5 mL) vanilla extract
1 cup (240 mL) persimmon puree, from about two persimmons**
2 teaspoons (10 mL) baking soda
2 teaspoons (10 mL) warm water
*You can also subsitute 1 cup (125 grams) of all-purpose flour for the gluten-free flours if you don’t have them and/or don’t have a reason to not eat gluten.
**To make the persimmon puree, you must begin with fully ripe hachiya persimmons. These are the slightly longer, larger variety and they are mushy to the touch when ripe, “like a water balloon,” according to the great Internetz. Cut each persimmon in half and spoon out the insides. Blend the mush into puree using the blending device of your choice (Vitamix, immersion blender, food processer).
Line a 5-6 cup (1-1 1/2 L) volume pan of your choice with parchment paper. The important thing is to use a pan you can fit into a pot, as this pudding is steaming. Loaf pans work well or small bundt pans also. You could also individual silicone cupcake molds, and steam them for about half the time.
Place a large pot on the stove on high heat with a steamer rack and one-to-two inches of water. While the water boils, mix together the pudding.
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, salt, and spices. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, oil, eggs, brandy, vanilla, and persimmon puree. In a small whisk, whisk together the baking soda and warm water. Add the baking soda mix to the persimmon mix; whisk until combined. Add the dry ingredients and mix to incorporate. Pour into your pan of choice. Place the pan into the pot on top of the steamer rack. Make sure that it is stable. Cover the pot and steam for twenty-five to thirty minutes, or until the pudding springs back when touched and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean of with a few moist crumbs; baking time will vary depending on the shape of your pan (shallow, large pan with cook faster than deep, compact pans, i.e. a cake pan will cook faster than a loaf pan).
I recommend eating this pudding hot with your fingers. (P.S. the one in the picture is half of a loaf pan’s worth and has some chocolate smeared on top with a couple almond slices, a smattering of powdered sugar and some orange zest. This is purely for aesthetic purposes and even though I guess chocolate couldn’t hurt, it’s truly unnecessary).