Primrose Yema and Spring Sunshine
I don’t think it’s any coincidence that so many springtime celebrations and rituals involve hunting for treasure. From Easter Eggs tucked into unsuspecting places to a rush to find the end of the rainbow and its promise of leprechaun gold, there is an air of anticipation through the season!
I can imagine our ancient ancestors feeling the same way. The end of winter must have been tough - the food stores running low, little to forage except for branch tips and the occasional dried berries. But then, spring arrives! And with it came all kinds of new bounties popping up all over the place. A bright shoot of nettle poking out of the brown duff here, a violet blossom there! And above them, in the trees, hearty little pockets of protein, safely encased in their own carrying containers. Spring feels like a collective sigh of relief, to me. Relief that the land, finally, is waking up. Relief that the soil is warming and seeds are sprouting and sunshine is out to be basked in. Relief that soon heartier crops will join the landscape and the stores of food and medicine depleted by winter’s desperation will once again be refilled.
And after that sigh, that exhale, comes an inhale: breathe in the excitement, the change, the beauty, the pleasure of it all! Smell those new blossoms on the trees, let the winds of warm springtime fill your lungs until you just can’t fit any more of it inside you. Soak up the potential that’s buzzing in the air and imagine where it could take you. Now don’t you feel like hunting for gold?
I’ve recently discovered a Filipino treat called “yema,” a soft golden custard candy made out of leftover egg yolks. I know the traditions of St. Patrick’s Day are far from Southeast Asia, but I like to believe this is the true leprechaun gold. And, like mythological leprechaun gold, these will certainly disappear overnight. ;) To me these custardy sweets coated in crunchy primrose sugar taste like sunbeams, and remind me of another one of my favorite springtime rituals. See below the recipe to find just one more way to add some gold into your life this spring!
I added a little local twist to this traditional recipe. The primrose flowers just starting to bloom in my garden have such an entrancing floral smell, I knew I just had to incorporate them into something special. Grinding fresh primrose blossoms with sugar is a treat for the senses. I love sniffing in that same sweet fragrance during the process, and primrose sugar can be used in all kinds of baked goods and confections. Primroses are light and delicately floral, adding a beautiful and subtle note of flavor to these silky custard-like candies.
Primrose Yema Candy
8 egg yolks
1 (11 oz ) can sweetened condensed milk
Zest from 1 lemon
3/4 c. primrose sugar (below)
Place a plate in the fridge and let it chill for about 20 minutes.
Combine the egg yolks, condensed milk, and lime zest in a small non-stick pan. Place over low heat and cook, stirring regularly, until mixture has thickened into a paste. Every now and then, dab a little bit of it on the chilled plate to test consistency. When you can roll a ball out of the cooled mixture on the plate, it’s cooked enough. Remove the egg mixture from heat and allow to cool slightly, until it’s cool enough to handle.
Shape the egg yolk mixture into small 1” balls and roll in primrose sparkle sugar. Serve immediately or keep refrigerated.
1/2 c fresh primrose blossoms
1 c. granulated white sugar
Remove the green sepals around the primrose blossoms. Put the blossoms in a mortar and pestle along with ¼ c. sugar. Grind until you have a fine paste.
Add another ¼ c. sugar and keep grinding until no visible petals remain. Mix in the remaining sugar.
Spread out on a baking sheet to dry overnight, then push through a sieve to remove any clumps.
Primrose Sparkle Sugar:
⅓ c. fresh primrose blossoms
¼ c. granulated white sugar
¾ c. decorative sparkling sugar
Remove the green sepals around the primrose blossoms. Put them in the mortar and pestle along with the granulated white sugar. Grind until you have a fine paste.
Stir in the remaining decorative sparkling sugar. Mix well with a spoon until the sparkling sugar is lightly colored and fragrant. Use right away to roll the yema in, or spread and allow to dry to enjoy later.
A short Ritual: Sun Soaking
One of my favorite practices this time of year is known to some as “sipping sunshine.” (Another friend calls it “lizarding.”) It’s as simple as pausing throughout the day to soak in some sunlight in a mindful and intent way. To do it properly, face the sun and expose as much skin as you’re comfortable doing. Close your eyes and let your mouth remain open. Can you taste the sunshine on your tongue? Can you swallow it? Can you feel it filling your chest? Try to do this at least a couple of times a day in the early days of spring and feel your sense of peace and happiness increase with every beautiful ray you soak in.
(Of course, if you will be out in the sun for an extended period of time, put on sunscreen.)
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*New to foraging and don’t know where to start? Check out this blog post on Foraging 101!