In a few days my summer vacation will begin. A month in Prague with friends in an apartment in the arts district of the old city will do just the trick. Kai will be cared for at home by a friend and his retriever sitting the house and will probably have more fun with them than he does with me! It has been a challenging year as any first year is in a new city and a new job.
There is a delight to life which need not be extravagant. My Prague apartment is tiny and cheap. We will make our meals. We will walk and nap in the sun and watch the sun rise over the Charles Bridge.
A handful of dates,m flour, cream and sugar will make the most extravagant desert and costs about 50 cents to make per person. The art of life is not lavish spending, it is lavish living. And that takes creativity, care and intentionality. Indeed I think that living a delicious life is both an art and a spiritual discipline.
The planet is able to sustain the life on it as it is now so the issue is not about have and have nots. We have because we simply are caught in a system which steals form the poor and gives to the rich. I am not talking about world hunger against which we must all fight and to which we must all give money.
Rather I am asking what it means to live a simple life with delicious, kind, care. There is a spirituality to hosting a great meal. There is a spirituality to making a delicious dessert for $3 rather than buying a mediocre pie at the grocery store for $9. There is a spirituality to agreeing to leave work early in order to make a wonderful Sticky Toffee Pudding Recipe for people you love. Yes,eating it will mean that one needs an hour’s walk that evening but why not make that part of the spirituality?
Time to rest. Time to make a wonderful desert in which to indulge. Time to write a long letter on wonderful paper. Time to tell a friend how much you love them. These are spiritual acts with logistical implications and they are, I promise, every bit as effectual to your spiritual well-being as an hour of prayers said for the thousandth time. Perhaps more effectual.
STICKY TOFFEE PUDDING RECIPE
Making tips: The cake for a sticky toffee pudding is supposed to be on the denser side of the cake spectrum, half way between a light sponge cake and a dense fruit cake, and so the batter-mix can be mixed altogether in a large saucepan. Not only does this save on washing up, it is a fool-proof method of making a wonderfully moist pudding. When making the toffee sauce the only tip is not to leave it alone, once started, (especially when on the boil) watch it like a hawk … it only takes five minutes. It is nice to make them in muffin tins like the one I have pictured here. My preference is for a toffee sauce which uses a golden syrup (corn syrup), it gives the sauce that real toffee taste when boiled with the heavy or Devonshire Cream* or clotted cream*, just like a toffee sweet.
• 225g stoned Dates (chopped)
• 250ml of a light Tea (made up and still hot)
• 300g Plain flour (sifted)
• 2 tsp Baking powder
• 1 tsp Bicarbonate of soda
• 100g unsalted Butter
• 175g caster sugar
• 4 Eggs (beaten)
• 1 tsp Mixed spice
• 2 tsp vanilla extract
For the toffee sauce
• 120g unsalted butter
• 100g dark brown sugar
• 3 tbsp golden syrup (corn syrup) or black treacle (molasses)*
• 300ml heavy or Devonshire Cream* or clotted cream*
* from a British food supplier or from a specialty food shop.