Pleasure. It’s something we all need and yet, some of us might struggle in embracing this gorgeous, loving energy. We can tend to deny ourselves pleasure in so many ways. And when we do embrace it, it’s often in the form of unhealthy behaviours like food (chocolate, pizza, cake) and drink (alcohol). If you made a list of your favourite pleasures, how many unhealthy behaviours would be on your list and how many healthy ones? I know it’s not clear-cut, after all, we have to eat. Biting into a sweet, juicy mango can be as pleasurable as a big slice of chocolate cake, no? (I hear you over there, saying no)
In sharing some of my pleasures, let me tell you about last night.
Last night, a beautiful soul sister came around to visit, and that’s pleasure number one. We made an open fire in my fire pit outside just after dark, under the full moon, and sat together sharing stories, sipping spiced rum and burning incense, pleasure number two.
Later, we decided to go indoors and make cranachan together. Pleasure number three is, for me, making food with someone, because it can be such fun to do together.
Now, you may not know this, but cranachan is a Scottish desert and it’s become a signature dish for me. I had already made the coulis earlier in the day – loads of raspberries and strawberries with some water and sugar, simmering in a pot for about six minutes on boil. The trick with this is not to leave the room whilst making it or you may come back to find a sticky, red Niagra falls of juice pouring out of the pan, over the stove, all the way down the counter and onto the floor, as I did. Oh my! I could actually hear it splashing down in a continual pour as I came into the room and there was a veritable lake of it on the floor. Not a pleasure.
Still, I rescued it, cleaned up and had plenty left. I set my coulis aside to cool.
When my friend and I set to it, we only had to blitz the coulis, toast some oats and make the thick cream with honey and whisky (spiced rum in my case). I put some oats under the grill to toast and set about blitzing. My friend and I were chatting away, when all of a sudden, she screamed and I looked at her face, she was staring with horror at something behind my back and I couldn’t think what was causing her reaction. I turned around and there were flames inside the oven, the oats had been forgotten and caught fire. We had talked about the full moon being in fiery Aries, looks like Grandmother Moon was really bringing fire into our lives!
I rushed to the oven and opened the door. And you probably already realised what a mistake that was. A great deal of black smoke billowed out, threatening my smoke alarm that didn’t go off (hmm, troubling) and oxygen fanned the flames. I quickly slammed the oven door shut again. Did I mention that, as I flung the window open, I knocked over my cactus and got prickles in my hand?
I had slammed the oven door shut on a much bigger fire and we waited and watched after switching the oven off at the wall. Eventually, there were no more flames and it was safe to take our oaty burnt offering out of the oven. No oats for the cranachan, then.
As we calmed down and felt the release of tension, as the situation ended safely, we both started laughing. And laughing and laughing. And all of a sudden, what I felt was pleasure, it was like looking in on this moment from outside and seeing the pleasure of sharing something really memorable and hilariously funny with a dear friend. Pleasure number four.
One of the main reasons cranachan is a signature dish for me is that it’s so easy to make (I know, I know!) I’m not one of the world’s intuitive cooks, as you can see. However, I’m not ditching the cranachan on the back of one little mistake, even if it did threaten to burn my house down (not really that bad).
If you fancy giving it a go, you now know all the possible pitfalls. When you’ve safely made your coulis, toasted oats and thick cream with honey and whiskey added, simply fold your oats into the cream and layer the coulis and cream into dishes or glasses. And don’t forget to keep a few raspberries back to go on the top, it looks pretty.
We enjoyed our oatless coulis beside the fire under the moon and stars, although I was making a gluten-free, vegan version with coconut cream and that wasn’t very successful either, the tin contained mostly liquid that wouldn’t thicken and we couldn’t spread the cream layer out properly over the coulis.
Nevertheless, we shared many pleasures last night. My friend had brought her paintings to show me for the first time and I was blown away by her talent, I loved seeing a new side to her that I didn’t know existed. And we decided to set up a painting day together. Painting is one of my most frequent healthy pleasures and sharing a painting day with a good friend, that’s like two pleasures stacked together at once.
What are your healthy pleasures? When did you last enjoy them? What are you going to do to bring more pleasure into your life now? (Try not to burn anything down)