Greetings fellow spice/herb enthusiasts (and any others reading this)! Welcome to week 12 of the Spicy Summer Sundays blog tour, which I am hosting in honor of poppy seeds. Enviably nestled here between BadAssKona and P. S. Haven, I feel especially honored to host the first organized get-together following the beautiful in-person gathering at which a number of fellow erotic writers and partners/family members convened in Gettysburg last weekend.
So to start off, for anyone wondering, yes, poppy seeds do contain what I have read to be “negligible” amounts of opium. Both snopes and MythBusters have addressed the question of whether poppy seed consumption can cause a positive result in a drug test, and both have said yes. It is also stated that the amount of opium in poppy seeds is negligible to a degree that eating them will generally not result in feeling any effects as such — but consuming them has been documented to cause non-drug-users to test positive in a drug screening. (That being said, I myself consumed so many of the muffins while I was testing the recipe below that I wonder if I got close to feeling such effects. It seems unquestionable that I would have failed a drug test!)
So, no opiate party here today. ;)
Moving on, the Spicy Summer Sundays blog tour, as well this summer, are nearing their close. Of course, they have not concluded yet — they’re just getting close. According to Traditional Five-Element Acupuncture, we are currently in a season of transition. Commonly known as Late Summer, it is one of the five seasons (along with the familiar four of spring, summer, autumn, and winter) corresponding with the five elements that give Five-Element Acupuncture its name. The Late Summer season symbolizes transition, which is reflected right now in the transition between Summer and Autumn.
In that spirit, I am offering two poppy-seed-including recipes today. One reminds me of Summer, and one Autumn. They are an honoring of both seasons and of the invitation of Late Summer. Fittingly, poppy seeds themselves seem to transition smoothly between the two.
“All Summer Long” by Kid Rock, first released at the end of last summer, particularly speaks to me of the seasonal transition theme. Here’s a performance of it live:
The affinity in me for poppy seeds stems as much from their aesthetic qualities and texture as from their flavor. I do like their flavor. As a spice, poppy seeds seem relatively subtle. Perhaps, having rarely been characterized as “subtle” in my life, I appreciate this in a vicarious way. Or maybe I just like the way they taste. : ) But their subtlety aside, I actually find their flavor quite appealing and have been known to use them liberally in the kitchen, sprinkling them on various (sometimes random) things from salad to pasta.
One of the reasons I like poppy seeds in baked goods is texture-related. I like texture, particularly crunchy/chewy, and poppy seeds add a textural dimension to baked goods that is not as abrupt or pronounced as, for example, raisins or nuts. Poppy seeds contribute to an even texture throughout — the texture is transformed (again, subtly) rather than conglomerated.
This evenness carries into poppy seeds’ aesthetic as well. Their appearance is a large part of why I like them so much. (While I have viewed them as black and round, Wikipedia has informed me that poppy seeds are actually “slate-blue” and kidney-shaped. I prefer black and round, so I appreciate their size precluding me from really discerning the difference.) I love the aesthetics of food, and I like to pay attention to how food looks as I’m preparing and presenting it. Poppy seeds, to me, add a dash of aesthetic depth, evenness, and (no pun intended) spice to almost any dish. As with texture, they seem to spread evenly, both in baked goods and sprinkled on things like noodles, so that they seem to lend an appearance of evenness and symmetry that I find appealing.
So, on to the seasonal duo of poppy seed recipes — first, an offering of appreciation for the Summer coming to a close. This is a recipe for Emerald’s Summer Salad (the counterpart to the “winter salad” I presented in February for the Progressive Blog Dinner):
-Approximately 6 cups romaine lettuce
– 1 cup sliced/diced strawberries
-1 to 2 diced avocado(es)
-1/2 of a ruby red grapefruit*
-1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese or Gorgonzola
-1 T. fresh chopped parsley
-1 T. fresh chopped chives
-1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
-1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
-2 teaspoons poppy seeds
-Grapefruit juice squeezed after fruit has been removed*
1) Cut grapefruit in half and section with a grapefruit sectioner or small knife.
2) Remove grapefruit segments. Add with strawberries and avocado to lettuce.
3) To make dressing, mix olive oil, vinegar, poppy seeds, and juice squeezed from the grapefruit rind.
4) Add all remaining ingredients to lettuce mixture, add dressing, and toss.*Note: I highly recommend tasting the grapefruit first to make sure it is a good one. If the grapefruit is bitter at all, the juice in the dressing will introduce a bitter flavor to the salad.
In cooking (as in eating) I aim to use the least processed, most healthful ingredients practical — sometimes, admittedly, to a fault, subverting focus on the taste in favor of preparing something most optimally nourishing for the body. Ideally, of course, the two come together complementarily. : ) The ingredients in this recipe reflect this focus to some degree, most notably in the use of 100% whole wheat flour.
Invitation into Autumn recipe: Whole Wheat Pumpkin Poppy Seed Muffins
-1 3/4 cup 100% whole wheat flour
-1/2 cup brown sugar
-2 teaspoons baking powder
-1/4 cup poppy seeds
-2 teaspoons cinnamon
-1/4 teaspoon allspice
-1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
-1/4 teaspoon salt
Wet (you guys have such dirty minds)PREPARATION
-1 egg (beaten)
-3/4 cup milk
-1/4 cup safflower oil (any cooking oil is fine)
-1/2 cup pumpkin
-2 teaspoons vanilla
1) Combine dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.
2) In a separate smaller bowl, combine wet ingredients.
3) Form a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add egg mixture all at once. Stir just until combined (batter should be lumpy).
4) Fill lightly greased muffin cups 2/3 full and bake at 400 degrees about 20-22 minutes.
I have found these muffins to work well both by themselves or with condiments like cream cheese or strawberry preserves.
So while you’re here I’d like to invite you to muse about transition in whatever way strikes you. Particularly sex and transition — any particular progressions or transitions you find sexy? An example that comes to me is a woman dressed very elegantly, hair and makeup done meticulously, changing out of her dress clothes into jeans and a button-down shirt — but her hair and makeup are still perfectly done. There’s something I find very sexy about that image.
Thank you so much for coming by today! I want to thank Rick Write for being my food photographer and providing the salad and muffin photographs above (and also for throwing out the title of this post, which I promptly stole to use lol). And of course a big thank you to the magnificent Marina St. Clare and Donna George Storey for organizing this delightful blog tour and inviting me to participate.
Next week be sure to visit P. S. Haven for something salty! By which I mean, of course, visit his blog for his presentation of salt as next week’s host. ;)
-Kid Rock “All Summer Long”