It’s time to start digging our fingers into the earth. Over the Winter my yard and garden gets neglected. I’m not a tender caretaker when it comes to my green things. Live and let live, I say. This works, mostly, except when things die. Which is often. But then again I get to discover all sorts of things blooming and cropping up that I completely forgot about. Daffodils, strawberry plants, blackberries. We’re lucky enough to rent a space with lots of flora already established. The perennials always return after their long Winter nap. It’s comforting to know that our little nook holds a world of blooms just beneath the surface.
This year I have a fire in my belly that’s pushing me to tend to some spaces, plant my own veg/herbs/flowers. I really just want to create a home for myself that includes barefoot evenings in shorts and a ripped T-shirt collecting squash blossoms and thyme and savory; fresh lemonade on the counter with macerated basil at the bottom; jars filled with cosmos on every windowsill. And asparagus, snapped straight from its loamy bed, fried up in ghee with garlic, eating it straight out of the pan sprinkled with flakey sea salt.
So I get into the dirt. I pull up wicked looking green roots and creeping ground cover, dig in deep around dandelions, twist and scrape. I rake my fingers through ponytails of grass, pulling them up and out (not very effectively). I make way for that asparagus to poke its new growth through the topsoil. So our mornings can include filling a dishtowel with sweet new spears, cooking them up alongside eggs and homemade einkorn bread. Windows open. Coffee in hand.
Spring, to me, is a season in which we can ease back into the simple, fresh pleasures of food. Including desserts, which don’t need to be fancy, complex, or time consuming to be luxurious. Custards and panna cotta’s are perfect, in my mind, as complements to the new fruits and flowers of Spring. I found these gorgeous plums at the grocery and couldn’t resist their color; I think they marry really wonderfully with these panna cottas I made with coconut sugar — they have a distinctly molasses-like brown-sugar flavor. I’m a fan of brown sugar + stone fruits. Cherries, peaches, plums, apricots. For a more traditional panna cotta sub evaporated cane sugar; for sugar free, omit the sugar and replace with stevia drops (to taste).
- 1 13 ounce can full fat coconut milk
- 1 teaspoon agar agar powder
- ⅓ cup coconut sugar
- ½ teaspoon ground black cardamom
- 1 vanilla bean, scraped of its seeds
- pinch sea salt
- In a small saucepan, combine the full fat coconut milk and the agar agar powder with a whisk.
- Let sit for 15 minutes.
- Place the saucepan on low heat and whisk in the coconut sugar, cardamom, vanilla bean, and sea salt. Continue to whisk occasionally as the cream heats up. I like to use an immersion blender, at this point, to get the spices blended perfectly and evenly into the cream.
- As soon as the cream starts simmering, cut off the heat and pour the panna cotta mixture into your cups, ramekins, or moulds.
- Chill for at least an hour up to 24 hours, covered, before serving.
- To serve, top with sliced plums and a sprinkling of coconut sugar.
- Place the cups or moulds filled with panna cotta in a hot water bath, then flip onto your serving dish and tap until they come loose. Simple moulds are easier than others!