Monday, May 9, 2011

How it started; how it ended

This last Saturday I spent the morning running a booth at the Davis Farmers' Market. It was fabulous people watching, and I got to listen to live Jewish-style accordion band music for much of it, but by the end, I was peopled out, wind-blow, hot, hungry, and moneyless.

Naturally then, after I packed up my tent and crammed my car full of sales paraphenalia, I drove myself to the 42nd annual Whole Earth Festival. I spent the remainder of the day dancing with the crowds on the quad of the UC Davis campus. More wind, more people, and more sun. It was amazing.

Whole Earth is the quintessential Northern California hippy festival, complete with a Karma Dome, Solar Dance Stage, Sacred Space, and Drum Circle. There are venders lining the perimeter of the quad, selling all manner of natural, recycled, vintage, and just generally odd wares, such as fairy wings, vintage recycled silk dresses, hand made soaps, and, yes, tie dyed everything. One man, who has been at the festival for a long time, makes pottery pendants of all colors and designs that say 'peace' on one side. Those are free. I have the Swahili one in purple. It says Amani.

It might be a little silly, but I have attended this festival for the last 13 years whenever I am in the country, and for some reason, it is always magical. Last year I went by myself randomly Saturday and was standing across the street from the Drum Circle, feeling out of sorts from my new status as mother. I hadn't been to Whole Earth for a quite a few years, and was wondering why I even came. Finally, I noticed my friend Eryn standing there amidst the circle. Eryn and I had always gone together when we both lived here. In fact, we spent our prom night at the Whole Earth Festival, dancing. And there she was.

That was a turning point--like I finally woke up and realized I am still the same drum-loving 16 year old looking for a fairy skirt. Even post-baby. It is silly. But it is true.

This year I was supposed to call Eryn when I arrived at the festival so we could meet up. But as I was walking towards the drum circle (again, we apparently really like it), someone called my name. There she was again. We listened and danced at the drum circle for a long time. We watched a brown haired girl in a belly-dancing outfit dance like the air was a medium to move in. We listened to the cacophony of drum beats, somehow working together to make a thing called music. And we got the craving again, to feel good earth under foot and hot sun on our skin.

I got the craving to live a little more lightly, and I think I received the means to do it. I have been so wound up, so driven, or, so disconnected and antsy, that even the verifiable corniness of this stereotypical festival was completely inspiring. I need sacred space and a place to dance. I need oxygen and maybe even some fire-dancers. I definitely need a little more good karma. And fairy wings.

Those are my sister's bunny ears. She was being very clever.

Anyway, that is how my Mother's Day weened started. With a farmers' market morning and a belly-dancing afternoon. It was a good start.

The weekend ended with this Strawberry Almond Tart. Light. Sweet. Macaroony. Highly recommended.

Towards the end of our Drum Circle dancing, two little girls with the long, cape-like fairy wings were prancing about in the middle of the circle. At some point they stopped dancing and approached a woman, dancing on her knees, one girl on one side of the woman and one girl on the other. Both folded their wings forward to encase her. They stood there for about a minute, waving their wings out and in like butterflies. And then they went to someone else.

That's how I feel--as if some spirit children have enrobed me with their glittery pink wings. And I am blessed.

Strawberry Almond Tart adapted from Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking

This recipe makes two tarts. If you do not need two tarts on hand, fear not. According to Ms. Child, the almond cream freezes well. Just take half the recipe and half the cream, whip and fold accordingly. Freeze the rest of the almond cream, and have the heavy cream in your oatmeal for the next week. Ooh, that sounds good.

Makes enough cream for two tarts (and some for snacking)

one Sweet Crust recipe*

1 egg
1 egg yolk
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
1 cup boiling milk

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup ground almonds
few splashes kirsch

1 cup heavy cream

Beat the egg and egg yolk in a mixing bowl, gradually adding the sugar, until mixture is pale yellow and forms a ribbon. Beat in the flour. Beat in the boiling milk in a thin stream of droplets.

Pour into a saucepan and set over moderate heat. Stir slowly with the whip, reaching all over the bottom of the pan. When mixture begins to coagulate into lumps, beat it vigorously until it smooths and thickens into a stiff paste. Then over moderately low heat, beat it with a wooden spoon for 2-3 minutes to cook the flour thoroughly. Be careful the custard does not scorch on the bottom of the pan.

Off heat, beat in the butter, then the flavorings, almonds, and kirsch. Dot top with softened butter to prevent a skin from forming. Let cool completely.

Whip a cup of cream till stiff but not yet grainy. Fold into cooled almond cream. Spread in the bottom of a baked and cooled sweet crust tart. Spread sliced strawberries in a pretty pattern on top. Serve immediately. Enjoy!

*Hint: take your usual fail-proof basic pie dough recipe, cut the salt in half, add a few tablespoons sugar total, and when you add the ice water (which should be on the lesser side) add also 2 beaten egg yolks. Voila!


  1. A farmers' market with klezmer music?!? Even if that was the only thing that happened to you last Saturday, I think that sounds pretty stupendous.

  2. that what its called. Well, then yes, the klezmer music was indeed a highlight.