The boy sat in a puddle in the middle of his front yard, staring at the grey asphalt of the empty driveway. It was sprinkling a light rain that grazed his eyelashes. He blinked every twenty seconds, clearing the water from his eyes but never changing the direction of his gaze or his position.
Nitasha, the next door neighbor’s daughter, saw the boy sitting and came outside with a umbrella.
“Here,” she said, holding out the outspread umbrella. She tried to place the umbrella in the boy’s hand, but it fell over onto the grass.
“Hey.” She tapped the boy’s foot. “What’s wrong with you? Why are you sitting in the rain?”
The boy looked up at her with a glazed expression. The girl dropped her umbrella and ran back inside her house.
“Mom,” she nearly yelled, running up to her mom, who was watching spinach in the sink. “The neighbor’s kid…there’s something wrong with him. Come look.”
Her mom dried her hands and came out to the front porch. “Oh geez,” she said. “That’s the Millers’ kid. You know, they left this morning. Just packed up all their things and left.”
“Without the boy?”
“He’s not theirs. Something of a stray. They were letting him stay inside the house while they were here, but they had to move back to New York.”
“But what happens to him now?”
Her mom shook her head. “We’ll have to call CPS. The Millers didn’t, they seemed to think…well, I dunno what they thought, exactly.”
Walking over to the phone, Nitasha’s mom made the call, then went outside.
“Nathaniel,” she said. The boy looked up again with his blank eyes. “Would you like to come inside for a snack?”
The boy nodded, and unfolded his legs from their cross-legged position. He trotted behind them, and entered the house on his tiptoes.
“You can leave your shoes on, it’s fine,” said Nitasha’s mom. She ushered Nathaniel into the kitchen, took off his coat and wrapped him in a towel. The boy sat there shivering as she poured him a cup of tea and set in front of him a plate of ruby red coconut jellies. The boy reached for one of the glistening treats. For the first time the dull film seemed to leave his eyes.
A van pulled up in the driveway. CPS, read a decal on its side. The boy popped up in his seat. He dropped the jelly and darted towards the back of the house.
“Hey!” said Nitasha and her mom. They ran after him but he was already out the back door, climbing the steep backyard rock face, towards the thick woods at the top of the hill behind their house.
But the boy was gone. When they reached the top of the hill he had been swallowed by the thick trunks of the evergreens, blended into the mist. They could explain nothing to CPS, who never did find the boy. Nitasha suspected that he’d become one with the trees…she seemed to sense his presence behind the trees, in the caves, behind the bushes, whenever she went into the woods. Sometimes she would leave a plate of jellies out, and they would be gone a day or two later. Whether it was the raccoons or the boy himself she never knew.
- Beet Layer
- 2 cups of beet juice (this can be actual juiced beets, or the water you boiled beets in)
- pinch sea salt
- 2 tb grassfed gelatin (sub agar agar for vegan)
- 4 tb tapioca flour or arrowroot starch (optional)
- squeeze of lemon or lime
- optional sweetener (I think it's sweet enough already)
- Coconut Pudding/Haupia
- 1 can coconut milk
- 4 tb tapioca flour or arrowroot starch
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 2 tb coconut sugar (optional, I like haupia more savory)
- 1 tb grassfed gelatin (sub agar agar for vegan)
- Boil beets and save 2 cup of the juice, or juice beets for the same amount. Let cool.
- Bloom gelatin in the juice for a few minutes. Then add salt, lemon, and starch to the juice and whisk well.
- Heat up over low in a saucepin, whisking/stirring until mixture has thickened slightly (if you use arrowroot this kind of creates a mirror glaze, which is cool...will have to figure out what else to do with that...)
- Pour into the bottom of your molds and refrigerate.
- Combine all of the ingredients for the haupia in a saucepan (can also bloom the gelatin in the coconut milk for a couple minutes). Heat up over low heat until everything has melted together/is well-incorporated. If you want distinct layers you can wait to do the haupia layer until the beet layer has well-solidified. If you're going for the melded/ombre-ish look of the rosebuds, you can pour the haupia mixture when it's still warm, or when the beet layer hasn't totally solidified. Don't wait too long to pour the haupia though or it'll solidify too much at room temperature.
- After pouring into the molds, re-refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.
- Pop out of the molds and enjoy for a cool snack/treat!
This post has been shared on Phoenix Helix’s Paleo-AIP Roundtable.