It’s been one whole Earth’s spin around the Sun since we moved to the Slovenian Alps. And it took a pandemic to make me finally slow down, inhale, and fully appreciate all the beauty, the smell, the sounds, the taste of nature we’re surrounded with. Stillness hasn’t always been my friend – perhaps many of you can feel me on this one, and we have all faced the discomfort of forceful stillness these last couple of months. I wrote more about this in one of my previous posts. But haven’t we all been running through life, missing all the tiny moments filled with beauty and awe, that in a way nature has gifted us the time and space to see them – I wonder.
What if 2020 is actually what we needed most, shaking our auto-operating mode of survival, and reminding us of conscious living? What if we where so ignorant toward ourselves, and others, constantly fighting the time battle that we never seem to win, chasing approvals and acceptance from others, that we forgot to be kind, loving and present for ourselves, and for the others? What if our health and the collective immunity has crumbled, our bodies weeping for nourishment and support, that now we’ve got all this time to rediscover the sacred act of cooking, and emotional nourishment as we sit with our loved ones around the table? What if the nature inside of us has lost the connection with the nature around us, ridding us of the inner voice of guidance through the challenges of life? What if the time has come to finally accept the need for change? YOU, my friend, are the change. What if we embrace 2020 as a gift to humanity, a year when we find our voice, speak our truth, and encourage others to do the same? The time has come to stand together, and lift each other up, instead of pulling each other down.
“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.”Jalaluddin Mevlana Rumi
Now that we are finally out of lockdown, Val has returned to the daycare, and I’ve swept the dust from my office table. I find myself taking things much slower, spending more time doing my morning rituals, having regular breaks to stretch the body, feel the energy flowing from the top of my head to the toes, and bringing books to read under a tree. It’s gotten me to reconnect with nature, to understand the elements and their cyclical change in a far more palpable way. My understanding of Ayurveda – the wisdom of life, has become deeper and more profound than ever. I don’t take things for granted anymore…and I have more awareness for how I spend my days than I ever had before.
With nature blossoming, I have surrounded myself with books on herbalism, local herbs, and herbal preparations. I’ve been talking to neighbours, learning about traditions, recipes, herb names, everything I could possibly discover… Pruning scissors have been my companion, I have seen more roe deers than people in the last couple of months, and looking at trees as they gracefully swing under a breeze as the sun sets behind the mountain has been the biggest treat for my eyes. For as long as I remember, I have never felt so peaceful and present in the moment.
May, June and July are the months when most of the herbs are to be collected, dried, or turned into tinctures and other herbal preparations. The green witches around the globe are having their happy dance. Our home has been filled with local herbs hanging on the walls to dry, shelves are carrying jars filled with tinctures in the making, herb infused oils and spruce syrup jars are soaking the sun on the window sills…
Simple Herbs to collect
I’m a huge fan of herbal infusions. Hot herbal infusions are also known as teas, but this can be made with cold water as well. These are the herbs I’ve been collecting lately:
- Red clover
- Lady’s mantle
- St. John’s Wort
But let’s talk about my latest obsession. I wrote about elderflower exactly one year ago after we moved here in Slovenia. It was just when the elder trees started blossoming and I was in awe with the smell of these fluffy flowers. The Elderflower Cherry Galette was, and still is, one of the most craved desserts amongst our family and friends. But this year, I wanted something new, something easy, light, yet full, really full of flavour. I wanted the essence of the elderflower. Infusion! It has to be an infusion – I thought. And so the idea of making a simple vegan ice cream, was born. In fact, this recipe can be a base for creating something on your own, using herbs you like to infuse the coconut milk. We all need some herbal magic in life. Why not starting with a nice cream?
From an Ayurvedic perspective, elderflower is a great herb for hot Pitta people, as it has a cooling effect on the body. With days getting warmer, the Pitta dosha naturally starts to increase in all of us. Made into a tea, used to infuse water, lemonade, kombucha, milk, or turned into a delicious (n)ice cream, elderflower is a fantastic ally to keep the body’s core cool down.
ELDERFLOWER NICE CREAM
- 2 cans or 800ml full-fat coconut milk
- a handful of fresh elderflowers, add more or less depending how much you like the scent of elderflower. I used 4 large flowers.
- 1,5 cup cashews, soaked for at least 3 hours in cold water*
- 3/4 cup local raw honey**
- 1 teaspoon vanilla paste or vanilla extract
- A small pinch of pink salt
- Lime juice and zest, for serving
In a cooking pot bring the coconut milk to a low boil. Add the elderflowers, place the lid and turn the heat off. Let it cool down to room temperature, as the magic of infusion happens.
In a high speed blender put the drained and well washed soaked cashews. Using a sieve pour the infused coconut milk into the blender, discarding the elderflowers.
Add vanilla, honey and salt. Whizz until you reach the smoothest texture possible. Pour the cream into a container and put in the freezer. Do not cover the container.
During next 3 hours you will need to give the mixture a good whisk as to avoid water crystal formation and achieve the creamy texture of this ice cream. In case you have the ice-cream maker (lucky you!), you will just pour the cream into the machine and wait for a few hours. No fuss at all.
When ready to serve, bring the container out from the freezer and leave it on a kitchen counter for 10 minutes to defrost a little. Scoop into serving bowls, drizzle a squeeze of lime juice on top and decorate with lime zest. Enjoy!
* no time to soak the cashews – soak for 30 mins in boiling hot water, covered
** as a substitute for honey you could use neutral tasting rice syrup or more flavourful maple syrup