ponderosa pot de creme

Ponderosa pot de creme

(Because sometimes the herbalist needs some nourishment)

Around 330am on Thursday morning, I was awoken by a commotion in my neighbours’ apartment. Ten seconds later, to the sound of footsteps thundering down their stairs and their front door flinging open, I sat up in bed and said “Jamie, there’s a fire.” Then came the banging on the front door, and Pam shouting “YOUR CAR’S ON FIRE”. Jam leaped out of bed and vaulted down the stairs and out the door. I grabbed clothes first and followed suit. Turns out the extra minute didn’t really make a difference- my car was engulfed in flames. I watched, in shock, as Jam helped the neighbours move their cars out of our shared driveway (very quickly, and very carefully, as there’s nothing like approaching a flaming car that is going through a number of small explosions), away from the burning mass.

The crowd on the sidewalk grew larger.

I whispered to Jam to go and put some clothes on. He looked down and realised he was only wearing boxers and was shivering.

I pulled my sweater more tightly around my neck.

It took twenty minutes for the fire department to arrive, as there had been fifteen similar fires that night, and resources were stretched thin. When the fire was finally out, the smell of burnt rubber and acrid smoke hung in the air, on our clothes and in our mouths. Some of us (Jam) went back to sleep after a few hours. I sat awake, staring out the window at the light changing, thinking of all the possible ways that events could have unfolded differently.

The few days that followed (until the arsonist was caught, really) were a blur. Not because of the car- it’s just a car, albeit a car that I really really liked- but because of the shock and how poorly I handle stress. An arsonist firebombing your car is a high stress situation. And high stress events send me into a tailspin of Piglet-like behaviour. Sympathetic overdrive could be my middle name (though luckily my parents were much more tasteful than that). Luckily, I’ve been here, on the Piglet feedback loop, before, and so I know how to handle it.

Extreme stress, for me, calls for my own version of Martial Law. Sleep, sleep, more sleep, take nourishing herbs, and do things that make me feel relaxed and happy, while eliminating all unnecessary commitments. Thus, I haven’t been on the computer much, and I haven’t gone out much, choosing to be asleep, up the tree in the back garden, doing yoga, or in the kitchen baking.

Two days ago, I made candied ginger, ginger snaps, and these little pots de creme, all in one afternoon. It was a great afternoon. By evening the dishes were piled high in the sink and I put on some music and did them without stressing about it, and then I went and sat on the stoop and ate a pot du creme, savouring every single indulgent bite. It was good. And it was nourishing- all those egg yolks and the cream are so good for rebuilding a worn out body, and the flavour of ponderosa forest is grounding in ways that delicious smelling forests always are.

I had meant to come back here on the first, wish you all a happy new year, and show you some pictures from the time I’d spent in the desert last week. But if you don’t mind, I’m going to do that tomorrow. And in the meantime, here’s the most delicious thing to grace my lips since I met mr. Ponderosa while visiting Butter in Colorado. Do you have access to Pinus Ponderosa? If not then Pinus Jeffryii bark (since I can’t tell the bloody difference anyway) would make an equally delicious elixir… and if you have neither then maybe just add one tb. of brandy and some vanilla extract instead.

Ponderosa elixir

You’ll need a few big chunks of Ponderosa pine, or Jeffrey pine bark.



Break the bark up into smaller pieces, and then stuff them into a jar. Fill the jar, half with brandy, then top up with honey. Leave it to sit and stew for about 4 weeks, though it will start to taste delicious after a week or so. Strain, and bottle. It’s also delicious in hot chocolate…



Ponderosa-butterscotch pot de creme

6 egg yolks

4 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 3/4 cups heavy cream

3/4 cup whole milk

2 tb ponderosa pine bark elixir


Preheat the oven to 325, and put about 6 ramekins, or oven-proof cups of some kind, in a roasting dish. Pour boiling water into the roasting dish (but not the ramekins) up to about an inch high on the little dishes.

Melt the sugar, butter, vanilla and salt. Cook over a low heat until the mixture gets really bubbly, and turns a caramel colour. Carefully, stir in the milk and cream. The mixture will bubble and look like it’s very very angry, but keep at it, it’ll smooth out. Add the ponderosa elixir.

Whisk the egg yolks together, in a bowl, and add a ladle full of the sugary cream mixture, whisking constantly. Add another ladle full, then pour the whole lot back into the pan and whisk it all together. Strain through a sieve, and pour into the individual ramekins, in the roasting tray.

Now, put the whole lot in the oven for about 35 minutes. Until you can jiggle a ramekin and the whole custard is solid.

Remove from oven, and allow to cool. They’ll be ready to eat in about an hour and a half. You can decorate them with whipped cream and chocolate shavings, or just eat them as-is.

  • Linda

    Yum!! I may have to prune my pine tree just for this.
    So sorry about your car though.

  • http://www.herb-planet.com fransita

    hope that you are able to replace your car with ease.
    Ponderosa pine is one of my favorite trees, not because i’ve ever eaten or drunk one
    yet because i planted thousands upon thousands of them when i worked for a forest service contractor 25 years ago in the mt hood nat’l forest and eastern oregon also. i am so excited to be back in oregon now and reading this about the lovely tastiness of poderosa bark! maybe i can find one of those trees i planted and harvest some bark from one of my babies <3
    thank you so much for sharing this recipe for pondo elixir!
    best to you

    • fairybekk

      Fransita- that’s such a wonderful story!! It’d be such a lovely example of continuity if you did :).

  • http://hungerandthirstforlife.blogspot.com/ Butterpoweredbike

    Still so hard to believe.

  • http://scrumptious.canalblog.com alwayshungry

    I’m very sorry to hear of your misfortune!!!
    I also find that cooking is a great remedy for stress.
    A+B makes something delicious even if the world seems to be falling apart.
    …and kid movies!
    I really hope you’ll be feeling better soon!

    • fairybekk

      I’m totally with ya on kid movies :).

  • Dyhana

    Oh my goodness! Glad noone was hurt. :( Good thing you have great coping skills, and the ability to nourish yourself.

    Thanks for the recipe. :)

  • http://www.lion-art.com Lee Ann

    So sorry about your car! I’m glad you took some time to nourish yourself. It’s so important…

  • http://www.openayurveda.com Sri

    Sorry and all that, but omg that sounds delicious! What are the herbal actions of ponderosa? Is there something else going on with this other than *delicious*?! Can you share some harvesting tips? (How to do avoid harming the tree?)
    Thanks! Sri at Open Ayurveda.

    • fairybekk

      Sri- If you harvest the bark in small amounts, or even harvest little twigs, then you won’t harm the tree.

      I’ve read about pine bark *extract* being used as an antioxidant, and pine needles are really high in vitamin C, but as far as this recipe goes, it’s just for the pure heavenly taste :).

  • http://catsworld-cat.blogspot.com/ Cat

    What a shame you got caught up in someone elses’ drama.
    I love pines, when we go visiting my outlaws up by Yosemite hanging out with the trees is as essential as watching the birds. Next time I may have to harvest.