In keeping with writing about unseasonal things, such as one-ingredient banana ice cream, I want to talk about popsicles. Santa Maria woke up recently and, at Pinta’s request, made a set of hibiscus ones. These ruby delights first came into our lives last summer, and they were something of a staple around the house.
When Santa Maria made them the other day, they filled the kitchen and much of the house with a luscious scent. The base is Celestial Seasoning’s Red Zinger tea, and she sweetens it with copious amounts of honey and sharpens it with tons of chopped fresh ginger. It perfumed the house as it cooled.
At the moment, I’m reading a fascinating book, Daniel Goleman’s “Emotional Intelligence,” that I think should be required reading for every new (and not so new) parent (as well as for everyone else, for that matter). Goleman explains how our brains evolved, from the bottom up. First came the brain stem, atop the spinal cord, and then the olfactory lobe, “thin layers of neurons gathered to analyze smell,” an essential life skill for early humans, who didn’t have books or the Internet to tell them if something was “edible or toxic, sexually available, enemy or meal.”
After that the limbic system evolved around these cells, and with it the “rhinencephalon,” or “literally, the ‘nose brain,’ a part of the limbic wiring.” A little later on, we developed the amygdala, the center for emotion—and emotional memories—in the brain, and it was a key part of the evolving nose brain.
The relevant thing here is that the amygdala is one of the first parts of the infant brain to develop. And it is connected directly to the sense of smell. Therefore, I reason, any good scent of things cooking around the house will set a child off well in life with good memories.
As I inhaled the scent of the tea, I was brought instantly back to last summer, which, as I mentioned above is when we first starting having them around the house. My hope as I cook day in and day out, and fill the house with delicious aromas, is that I’m giving my children deep and happy memories to help them later in life. When I think of all the skills I’m supposed to be teaching them, this seems like one of the easiest.
- 2 tablespoons chopped ginger
- 5 “Red Zinger” tea bags
- Juice of a whole lemon
- ¼-1/2 cup honey, depending on taste: important note: when you freeze things they taste less sweet.
- 5 cups boiling water
Steep tea with all of the ingredients for half an hour
Remove tea bags
Cool the mixture
Pour into popsicle molds, and place in freezer
Allow at least four hours for the popsicles to freeze
Note: This will make far more than most popsicle holders can handle. The remainder makes the base of a mean cocktail when mixed with gin. And, as I realized with my recent illness, the leftover tea, without any gin, is a soothing and sweet, vitamin and nutrient filled elixir.