So Christmas happened. Happy Christmas, y’all! (And late Chanukah and Solstice and other meaningful winter happenings).
I did the road to Bordeaux with friends and a lunch stop at their family home. So many creches from so many countries! Guatemala or possibly Peru above. There was an old-fashioned American pinball machine too…we may have played a couple rounds, and I may have done not horribly. All those years of pizzeria pinball and early computer game versions apparently paid off.
I did Bordeaux with the sis. We stayed at one of Dhagpo’s sister centers, Dhagpo Bordeaux and got the best welcome ever. Warm beds, homemade bread, and sole meunière with good humor. All of these families that aren’t actually my family somehow made me feel like it’s family Christmas after all. It doesn’t made me any less nostalgic for my actual family, but it makes me appreciate them even more for how they have taught me to love and to share.
There’s a sweet old cemetery by the center and we went to visit the departed. Could seem creepy, but it was more peaceful than anything. The wrought iron alone merited the visit.
Things got pretty real too, as far as actual family goes. I realized it’s been a year since I’ve seen my sister, the longest we’ve ever gone. We know each other less well than we used to and we have less things in common than we’re used to. But we still know each other better than any one else in the world (except maybe our parents) and there’s a commitment in that. To promise to keep track of someone, to follow their story, to face their disappointment, to own up to what we could do better and what we simply cannot yet do for the love of them.
My sister makes me appreciate how often the best relationships are the ones where you don’t agree on everything, but you care enough to figure out why and understand what the other believes.
We visited some gardens. Saw some lollipop trees and spiral hedges, the odd castle in the mist.
History, people. I think it matters. To understand where we come from, how we came to where we are now.
Tomorrow, the year end course at Dhagpo begins. Jigme Rinpoche will talk to us about meditation, and we’ll try to listen and get wiser. Another year is passing, has passed. Time is precious. This is good to remember. To cherish and to share it.
This is obvious perhaps, but it strikes now as the time comes for resolutions and reflection: I want my heart open. I want to love with all I have and embrace the whole of the world. Forget the smallness of my self and remember the vastness of connectedness. We are causes and conditions, and we depend upon each other. All we can do is look after one another.
Happy New Year people; I’m thinking of you.
And um, cake, because apparently I’m on a cake roll again. This picture is terrible and usually I try not to post recipes with truly deplorable photos, but I’m doing it mostly for myself. Because this cake is so good that I need to have the recipe recorded somewhere easily accessible. You don’t have to make it or be convinced; this is a simple, humble cake. But if you’re curious, I’ll tell you: it’s like a hug from some one you have been missing a long time. You feel their arms around you and it’s like plugging in a light; the current runs down the line and the connection is direct. You know you’re in the right place and you are grounded.
This cake is all molasses and spices. It’s chewy like a brownie with a deep, enveloping flavor. For me, it’s comfort and it’s definitely the taste that goes with the hearth at wintertime. Also happens to be friendly for gluten and dairy sensitive people because I’m on that kick too.
Aah-mazing Chewy Gingerbread
1/2 cup (67 grams) brown rice flour*
1/2 cup (45 grams) oat flour*
1/2 cup (57 grams) spelt flour*
1/2 teaspoon (3 mL) salt
1/2 teaspoon (3 mL) baking soda
2 teaspoons (10 mL) ginger
1/2 teaspoon (5 mL) cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon (3 mL) allspice
a pinch of cloves
a pinch of nutmeg
1/2 cup (120 mL) oil
3/4 cup (150 grams) sugar
1/2 cup (120 mL) molasses
* Alternative flours can be subbed for 1 1/2 cups (125 grams) all-purpose flour.
Preheat oven to 350˚ F (175 ˚C). Grease a 7-inch cake tin. This could also be baked in a loaf tin for an extended period of time.
In a medium bowl, sift together the dry ingredients.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and oil. Add the sugar and molasses and whisk to combine. Add the dry ingredients and mix just until fully incorporated. Pour into pan and bake for 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs. I can tell you from experience that this cake is not terrible with good dry champagne. Just sayin’