when I am feeling overwhlemed, or thoughts are too full, air too close, I put on socks, walking shoes, cardigan, sling, rugged-up baby, scarf, beret, coat, sometimes a soft tote and my coin purse and go outside for a walk.... before long my feet are light against the concrete path and my ears are lulled to peacefulness with the familiar sounds of passing cards, far off siren, youths laughing, children hollering, wind whispering and against my chest a little boy chattering...
I don't think I ever really understood winter until we moved to europe, you see, even in the bleakest sydney winter there is the assurance of a blue sky and bright sun a day or two away, but here sometimes the grey stretches on for weeks at a time. and often it is cold and rainy, not cold enough for snow or rainy enough for big puddles and soothing sounds against the window - just a constant drizzle. I find my spirits lowering amongst it all, that and rather acutely, a feeling of loneliness and unknowing that comes with the season...
some days its a struggle to get out the door, but we do, I am so glad for it. at 4.45pm we venture out, there is still a little light about the place. a soft wind and all around apartments lighting up for the night, people meandering home, tall trees with naked branches...
and so often when I am walking and my mind is settled on exterior things, my heart is reminded of simple truths, epiphanies if you like, and today as we walked I was reminded of this,
I am with you.
We walked through a little park between a host of apartments, poorly kept, and there arching over the road were two wide trees. blossoming. and I cried out aloud, in unexpected joy, oh, a small Spring in the middle of Winter (a reminder for my heart too)...
for those who follow the religious calendar today is epiphany day, which depending on where you are from and what traditions you hold, it is a day of celebrating the arrival of the three wise men at the birthplace of Jesus, and of his baptism in the river jordan, today I contemplate and rejoice both... Though here in France it seems more an excuse for eating eating epiphany cake than anything else, so I followed along and baked a cake in honour of My King,
Though no jewels adorn his head,
but a crown of thorns, words full of grace
and love unmatched, dusty feet,
arms outstretched and holding
little ones, women marred
all and every
and even now
- A Kingly Cake -
Fresh ginger bundt cake adorned with honey cream cheese and rubies of crisp pomegranate...
You will need:
1 cup milk
3 chai teabags (or 1 cinnamon stick, 1 star anise, 6 cloves, 4 cardamon pods)
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
125g softened butter
4 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 1/2 cups soft brown sugar
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp allspice
pinch of salt
2 3/4 cups self raising flour
200g cream cheese
2 tablespoons honey
fresh ripe pomegranate
Gently warm milk with fresh ginger, tea bags or spice - remove from heat and let steep and completely cool before straining milk into a jug.
Meanwhile beat eggs, sugar, vanilla essence and butter together in a large bowl until well combined. In a separate bowl whisk flour with spice and salt. Then gradually add flour and milk alternatively into the egg/butter/sugar mixture. Pour into a well-greased and floured bundt pan and bake in a moderate oven 190'c for 35-40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean and it is beginning to spring away from the sides. Let cake cool in the pan completely before turning out - you might like to loosen the middle carefully with a knife first.
For the icing beat cream cheese in a bowl with two heaped tablespoons of honey - adding more if you want it sweeter. Spread icing on top of cake and dust with a little ground ginger or allspice and a scattering of pomegranate seeds.