Silent Connection and Cream of the Sea Cocktail
This time of year, things are changing quickly. As the tide of spring spreads inwards from the coast, blossoms burst into bloom and fade almost faster than we can even notice. Blink, and you’ll miss the beauty that graces our world.
During this rapidly-changing expansive energy of spring is a wonderful time to focus on a simple ritual that will re-ground us with our surroundings. The ritual itself is simple; all you’ll need is a special stone or shell to carry in your pocket. This ritual and the recipe below were inspired by my own coastal wanderings dreaming about nourishment and pearls. This ritual also inspired a delicious creamy cocktail, full of ocean goodness and scented with the delicate flavor of spring plum blossoms. You can find the recipe below the instructions for the ritual.
at least an hour of uninterrupted time
a special stone or shell to carry around
- Before you begin, completely turn off your cell phone, computer, TV, and all other electronics. Keep them off for the remainder of this ritual. If you’re wandering in an unfamiliar area, you may want to bring your cell phone along in case of emergencies but keep it turned completely off unless you need it. Let your friends or family know that they won’t be able to reach you during this time frame.
- Hold your shell or stone in your hands and close your eyes. Take a few deep breaths, allowing your body to relax. Release the tension in your shoulders and around your eyes. Soften. Notice the way the shell feels in your hands; its shape, size, texture, and weight.
- For the next hour, you will abstain from all communication. This includes reading, writing, talking, listening to others talk, listening to music, etc. Get outside and connect with the natural world instead. Pay attention to the sensory experience of being out in the world, wherever you are - whether that’s walking along the beach or just exploring your own neighborhood. One of my favorite ways to connect with nature in this way is to go foraging. A particularly suitable endeavor right now is to gently pluck fragrant plum or cherry blossoms for the following recipe, but of course that is optional.
- If you start to feel uncomfortable with the silence, bring your attention back to your special rock or shell. Feel its comforting presence. Once again, become aware of how it feels in your hand. Let it remind you of your place in the world. Let it bring you softness, patience, focus, and peace.
- If you feel feelings of gratitude, joy, or happiness, envision those positive emotions going into your stone as well, being stored there for future meditations.
- Once you’ve finished your silent meditation, slowly bring yourself back into the world. Listen to some calm music. Take a few moments to journal about your experience. Be gentle with yourself.
- Repeat this ritual often (daily is best) and if you’re able to, lengthen the amount of time you stay silent. The longer you stay in silence, the more dedication you will need - but, like anything, you will get better with practice.
If you also spent your silent mediation time gently plucking blossoms, the following recipe is the perfect celebration of that gentle silence. To me, quietness always feels like a fog as I become wrapped in a gentle sea of sensory experiences. I often find myself dreaming about inspiration. In this case, it was the creaminess of pearls, the sweetness of a soft sea breeze, the fortifying nourishment of sea vegetables… all of this comes together in this memorable cocktail.
The inspiration for this fun drink comes from an unexpected place: Jamaican aphrodisiacs! In Jamaica, Sea Moss (carrageenan) is blended into a creamy libation that is thought to boost the libido and promote fertility (another common theme for spring!) It has a rich mix of vitamins and minerals and has been used to treat everything from digestive disorders to anxiety. Those medicinal or nourishing characteristics are part of the reason it is so commonly used to heighten performance in the bedroom in central America. This milky drink is usually flavored with nutmeg and other tropical spices, but the distinctive floral flavor of plum or cherry blossoms make a beautiful addition to this cocktail.
It gets its thickened texture from that Sea Moss (Chondrus crispus), which has been used for centuries to thicken foods and impart nutrition. Its name comes from the Irish word carraigin, which means “moss of the rocks.” This ingredient has fueled industry in Ireland for many generations, where it is gathered and processed into a food additive that imparts desserts and other foods with a subtle taste of the sea. Today, it is commonly found in dairy products like yogurt to make a consistent texture and thickness. It’s worth noting here that some people have a bad reaction to carrageen and other thickeners. Try a little first and see how you feel if you’ve never had it before (but first go read the label on your yogurt, because I bet you’ve been eating it all along!) I find it sustaining and nourishing, myself. Sea Moss Pudding has a long history of being a healing concoction for sick people suffering from many different ailments since it’s easy to digest and filled with nutrition.
While some notice and dislike the slight sea-flavor of carrageen, I prefer to embrace and celebrate it as it reminds me of days on the coast and the magic of scented ocean breezes. It can be combined with milk or cream (vegan options work well too) to thicken them and provide texture. Be sure to plan ahead - the carrageen mixture needs to chill overnight in the fridge, and making the plum blossom cordial takes a few hours as well.
What better to accent this creamy cocktail with than the sweet floral flavor of foraged cherry or plum blossoms? The spring breezes that blog through my window these days are filled with the perfume sweetness of trees bursting into bloom. Luckily, it’s quite easy to capture that delicious aroma into a cordial, which can then be drunk on its own or added to other cocktails like this one. I was first inspired to try this cordial by Gather. Take a look at their original recipe if you want some more inspiration!
How to Make Plum or Cherry Blossom Cordial:
Rather than giving a set recipe, I’m going to give you a set of directions. A cordial is simply an alcoholic infusion combined with a flavored syrup, since water and alcohol absorb different flavorful components from each flower or herb. You can balance them in whatever proportions you choose, and you can make them in any amount you’d like.
The important thing to remember, in this case, is to make sure you are using the plum or cherry petals only. The stems and leaves contain bitter toxins and should be avoided. Harvest however much you’d like, then divide it equally into two portions.
To make the infused vodka: fill a sterilized jar about halfway full of petals, then cover with a smooth vodka. Infuse for about 3-4 hours, checking frequently. When it starts to smell heavenly, it's done - I wouldn't go longer than 8 hours. Strain and discard the petals.
To make the floral syrup: fill a heat-proof container about halfway full of petals or blossoms, then pour boiling water over them and let them infuse for a few hours at room temperature. Strain and measure your water. For every cup of water, add a cup of sugar. Place both in a small saucepan and heat until the sugar has dissolved. You can waterbath can this syrup like you would any other syrup or keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks.
To make the cordial: combine equal parts infused vodka with infused syrup and enjoy! You can also use less syrup and more vodka if you'd prefer the mixture to be less sweet. I think it's best just sipped over ice, but you can also add it to cocktails if you'd like. I like floral syrups particularly well in sour-style cocktails. It’s also wonderful in the creamy concoction below:
Cream of the Sea Cocktail:
2 Tbs. dried carrageenan
1 1/4 c. water, plus more to soak
1/4 vanilla bean
- Soak the carrageenan in cold water for about 20 minutes to clean it, then strain
- Add the carrageenan, water, and vanilla bean to a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the water has thickened slightly.
- Remove from heat and let cool and chill the solution in the fridge overnight (this allows it to gel.) Remove the vanilla bean the next morning.
Cream of the Sea Cocktail:
1/3 c. Sea Gel
1 c. milk of choice (almond, coconut, cow, soy, etc.)
1/4 tsp. almond extract
1/2 c. plum blossom cordial
- Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth. Serve over ice and garnish with a plum blossom if desired.
- Sip slowly and enjoy!
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