Dillon Indira Tisdel is a fierce woman of grace, generosity, and enlightened spirit. To describe her adequately is impossible as her presence has its most potent power the minute you meet her. Her essence is pure, her heart strong, and her vegan food creations beyond delicious. We met Dillon two years ago as she runs and cooks at the retreat center, Antara, in Taos New Mexico where we hold our Midland Retreats. She and her family have become our dear friends and teachers. We asked Dillon some questions on her life in quarantine and in Taos as a mother of three. She also shared with us her recipe for vegan hot fudge sauce which is perfect timing for topping those bowls of ice cream.
Enjoy this most magnificent interview and look at our dear friend Dillon.
Best Ever Vegan Hot Fudge Sauce
I grew up eating this hot fudge sauce over vanilla ice cream. It was and is, the best I’ve ever had. The recipe originally came from my Aunt Lizzy but I gave it some health supportive upgrades a few years ago and have never looked back. We have been eating it over strawberry Oatly ice cream. I make it vegan with coconut oil or not, with ghee.
1 cup full fat coconut milk
1 1/3 cups coconut sugar or sucanat
1/4 teaspoon himalayan salt
5 tablespoons coconut oil or ghee
1 cup dutch processed cocoa powder
Place the coconut milk, sugar and salt in a small sauce pan. Cook on medium high, stirring frequently, until the sugar dissolves and the mixture thickens slightly, about 5 minutes. Add the coconut oil or ghee and stir again, to incorporate. Sift in the cocoa powder and whisk vigorously until the mixture is thick, smooth and shiny. Serve over ice cream or eat cold from the fridge with a spoon.
What is your routine with the kids in quarantine?
The structure of our life has loosened up quite a bit which has been so nice for me. I’m a nine on the enneagram and so going with the flow borders on a vice for me. The kids wake up between 7 and 8 and eat breakfast, sometimes at home, but often marching off to my parent’s house, who live on the same property, to see what my mom is making. Joah gets on Zoom mid-morning to do some school with his other grandma who is a retired school teacher. During that time I usually do some work in the garden with the girls. We dig in the soil, sing to vegetable starts, and find worms and name them. After lunch it’s either a Krishna Das fueled cleaning session or more time outside to escape the mess of three (usually muddy) children, eternally home. After dinner we have been watching 'The Waltons', a show from the 70s that depicts a depression-era family in the mountains of Virginia who are materially poor but rich in love and connection. It was recommended to us by our Vedic astrologer, who said that we were a modern day Walton clan, minus the poverty, plus some serious woo woo vibes. The story arc is super sweet and wholesome and the male characters are incredibly gentle and full of integrity. Joah loves it. The girls wander in and out, Isha exclaiming, “John Boy!” now and then. Then books and bed.
What are your favorite medicinal herbs or ingredients to use in cooking?
We eat a lot of dal and kitchari and so I cook with a lot of Indian spices like turmeric, cumin, black mustard seed, cardamom and ginger, all of which have incredible medicinal and digestive properties. I put nettle and astragalus in stocks and broths. Nettle miso is one of my favorite quick meals. I put medicinal mushrooms in an almost daily hot chocolate that I make with oat milk, cacao, cinnamon and maple. High quality medicinal mushrooms have been a game changer for my energy level. I use a blend of Reishi, Chaga, Cordyceps, Turkey Tail and Lion’s Mane.
What do you love about living in Taos?
Taos is a really potent place. There is a saying, “move to Taos, lose your spouse!”, which I think is trying to convey the stripping energy that is so present here. That energy is extremely clarifying and can quicken one’s internal process. It also makes it a really good place to hold healing retreats. There has been a lot of magic here for us. We were clearly called here and have been deeply supported. But there is also a lot of suffering in this town. There are a lot of people living on the edge or slipping through the cracks. There is ancestral trauma in the people and the land. I think it’s important not to gloss that over when talking about the very real magic that brings so many people here to visit or to grow roots.
In short, I love the land, the potency and the people who are so unapologetically themselves.
Luckily, we are ten years in and my spouse is still hanging in there, so my fingers are crossed that the old adage has some exceptions.
What are three things you love about cooking?
The alchemy, working with plants, the transmission of love.
What people, living or deceased, would you call your muse or guru or biggest inspiration?
Amma for being an embodiment of unconditional love and selfless action on this earth. Ram Dass for being a living example of what happens when a human being loses him/her self in love. My late teacher, David, for giving me the tools to slowly work on the opening of my heart and for showing me what wisdom, humility and truth look like flowing through a human vessel. Cookie monster for showing me how to properly love a chocolate chip cookie.
We’re obviously huge fans and devoted disciples of you, your mom and Antara. Tell us how it came to be.
Oh my goodness, you guys, there are no disciples in our friendship. I love you.
Antara grew paradoxically with great intention and little will. Its inception was a part of a much bigger experiment in surrender. My mom had taken her hands off the steering wheel of her life and was letting every aspect, including her business, be led by Spirit. She did this, in part, by using the I Ching to check in around any important decisions.
After Kyle and I got married, we knew that we wanted to live somewhere near my parents and to grow food and do spiritual practice together. When it became clear that Taos was where we were being guided, the retreat center vision followed.
The vision grew organically and became realized at a sometimes painfully slow rate. One thing that we learned in this process was that one of the hardest things to surrender is the timing. We can often feel the correct movement of something and then we want to jump to make that thing happen, versus letting it unfold.
Letting Spirit guide Antara’s unfoldment has led us places, like to our collaboration with Midland, that we couldn’t have ever imagined.
With an hour of free time what would you do?
I want to say that I would go on a solo hike to some hot springs or to get in some cold mountain water but it’s entirely possible that I would lie on my bed, staring at the ceiling.
If you had one quote to live by…
So hard to pick one but this one comes to mind...
“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.” - Martha Graham