Winter is finally giving way to spring over here, and the green is coming back ever so slowly. I see buds beginning to swell everywhere. There are daffodils and crocuses actually blooming! I saw a bee! And the hyacinths are beginning to drill through the dirt. Everyone around here keeps on saying: thank goodness! I’ve been getting out in the garden which feels amazing. Nothing like a dirt tonic to put your spirit back up where it belongs.
It’s an interesting time of year for someone who tries to eat according to the seasons, and it makes one wonder what people used to do so long ago. Chew on sticks? Just about. The latest post from A Raisin and a Porpoise touches on this time of fasting, but really, as she wryly points out, something very restrictive would cause us sun-deprived northerners emotional bankruptcy. The book on my nightstand right now is Honey from a Weed: Fasting and Feasting in Tuscany, Catalonia, The Cyclades and Apulia by Patience Gray that a good friend sent me. It’s fascinating and dense, more feast than fast. It’s main theme revolves around the idea of the fast being necessary to the feast. The abundance would not be quite as sweet without the bitterness of these seasonal lulls. As much as we don’t like it, it’s just not natural to be full all the time. A simple enough concept that’s lost its luster in this world of plenty. Maybe instead of filling the void, we should try to be happy with the void. To contemplate the interstices.
I actually hate being hungry, to be honest, so even though I’m suggesting to enjoy the stretched out thin times it’s really just advice to myself. Ever since I can remember, hunger pangs used to bother me tremendously. I find it very hard to just sit still and feel them. Of course, the tag line of this blog is “staying hungry” so it’s not something I’ve just started thinking about. When you are full, you begin to get complacent, and while complacency has it’s benefits (who doesn’t want to be happy just where they are?) no one wants to be defined as smug.
Speaking of fasts, I did a gluten fast for two weeks, although we don’t generally think of it in that way. Usually we “go” gluten-free. It wasn’t terribly restrictive, I must admit. I did have soy sauce, for example, and didn’t feel pressed to run out and buy some wheat-free tamari. I also had an ice cream cone, and once I had the first bite of the crispy wafer I realized my error. Luckily I had a five-year old handy to dispatch the evidence after finishing the ice cream. On the last day of my fast, I happily made some whole wheat biscuits, thinking how glad I was to not have a sensitivity to gluten, and not an hour passed when I had the worst stomach pains that lasted an entire day. It was distressing to say the least, and I began to have panic attacks that wheat bread was lost to me for good. Ends up the wheat scones just might have been a bit too much of a shock for my system, so I’ve begun to slowly add wheat back in small amounts. In this time, I’ve become very attached to buckwheat muffins, in which I mix the flour in three parts: buckwheat, almond and wheat. It’s delicious. And did you know that buckwheat loves dark chocolate? Well, who doesn’t?
My original buckwheat muffin recipe riffed off of this one for Chocolate Buckwheat Banana Nut Muffins from the Bojon Gourmet, who I’ve been hearing about all over the place lately. In looking back at the recipe, I realized just how much I riffed, and mine is completely different now so I’m writing it down here for posterity.
Not-Fasting Muffins, yields 12 muffins
1/2 cup almond flour
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup very ripe bananas, mashed
1 teaspoon of vanilla
2 tablespoons of cacao nibs
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Have a muffin tin ready with liners or oiled well. Mix the flours, powders and salt. Make sure your coconut oil is liquid (but not warm) and mix it with the sugar well. Add the two eggs and beat until frothy. Add the mashed bananas and vanilla. Incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet ones, and then fold in the nuts, nibs and chips last, saving a bit for topping, if you like that sort of thing. Distribute into muffin tins and top with the extra goodies. Bake for about 16-18 minutes, or until golden around the edges and a trusty toothpick comes out clean. When completely cool, you may break your fast and enjoy.