In this series, we spotlight the boundless potential of a single ingredient.
Los Angeles-based acupuncturist, herbalist, and owner of Botanarchy Herbs + Acupuncture, Carolyn Barron has crafted a tonic with California Poppy (Eschscholzia Californica). She chose the out of the box ingredient because it promotes tranquility, eases pain, and brings dreaminess, warmth, and well-being to a frazzled nervous system.
Chef: Carolyn Barron
3 go-to ingredients that double as immunity: Fermented foods, bone broth, and grass-fed ghee.
Must-have ingredient that delivers an energy boost: Chaga mushroom.
Ultimate comfort food: Maple syrup, drizzled every which way hither and thither. Sugar gets a bad rap, but all the most sensual fluids of life are syrupy...tree sap, sexual fluids, botanical serums, need I elaborate?
Favorite healing ingredient: Reishi Mushroom. The ancient Taoist poet doctors called the Reishi Mushroom Ling Zhi - ‘spiritual potency’ - speaking to its pedigree as a bridge between the spiritual and the physical, heavenly energy made manifest upon the earth.
Beauty mantra: May I be nourished by the five elements of Earth, Metal, Water, Wood, and Fire, and may their myriad medicines keep me in divine alignment.
MILK OF THE POPPY
“To drink poppy tea is to enter mythic time. A plant of prophets and poets, is there anything more synonymous with the fantastical fairytale reverie of the dreamlands than a field of dancing poppies? Ethnobotanist Dale Pendell says the poppy brings you to the ‘Realm of Equanimity’ and wrote this tiny sonnet, which was the inspiration for this recipe:
When I inhale your dark perfume
My deepest longings for love
Are touched and soothed
Poppies worship the sun and have Leo Hair all spring. Their allure is such that the annual blooming of the poppies outside of Los Angeles has become the de rigueur pilgrimage of Angelenos looking to become besotted with nature. Poppies are transportive like that. Nyx, the Goddess of Night, carries poppies in her hand, while her son, Thanatos, (death), wears a poppy garland. Hermes, the shaman god who travels between the worlds, carries a staff that brings sleep. His home was Mekone - “Poppy Town” - the place where Prometheus stole fire.
A distant cousin of the Opium Poppy without the déclassé trappings of having morphine and being addictive, I use this herb in my clinic for patients that have pain or worries that get in the way of sleep, cramps, headaches, sciatica, shingles, anger, resentment, or seething rage. Drinking Milk of The Poppy before bed will ferry you to the dreamlands far beyond the confines of pain, while snuggling you into a gently tranquilizing cuddle puddle. Is there anything we need more in the world right now? I think not.
California Poppy is a very bitter herb (aren’t we all), but in her bitterness lies her magic, alkaloids, which make for potent medicine. Her bitterness can be tempered by milk and sugar, so add away until you find a ratio that feels sensual, romantic, and dreamy. California Poppy is not suitable for folks that are pregnant or nursing.”
2 c organic full fat coconut milk
2 tsp organic dried California Poppy (Mountain Rose Herbs is my purveyor of choice)
1 tbsp ghee
1 tbsp rosewater
Honey or maple syrup to taste
A sprinkle of cinnamon (optional)
A dusting of rose petals (optional)
Enclose your California Poppy in a tea bag or metal tea steeper. Bring your coconut milk to a gentle near-boil in a saucepan over low heat. Steep your California Poppy in the milk on low heat for 15 minutes, keeping watch to make sure it does not boil, and stirring often to keep the milk from forming a skin on top (if it does, just stir it back into the milk). Discard your poppy, and pour the infused coconut milk into a Vitamix or blender. If any rogue poppies escaped your steeper and got into the milk, strain the milk first and then add to the blender. Add 1 tablespoon ghee, 1 tablespoon rosewater, and honey or maple syrup to taste. Blend on high until creamy and smooth and pour into your dreamiest vessel. Drink before bed on nights that your nerves need de-tangling, or as a magic hour hot toddy when you long for some genial lethargy.