Posted in fiction, food, writing

Fragments

Chèvre Cookies

Stop-and-go traffic. You inch forward. Maybe you see cars up ahead moving, and hope, and hope…but then realize you’ve been fooled. All of you creep and stop, creep and stop, creep and stop.

I’ve been chain reading. We’ve had several losses of dear friends in the past month, amid worrisome news about loved ones, and most of the books have provided a relief from grief and stress. I won’t bother you with the handful that did not, except to say that 80% of the prose in two of them was made up of sentence fragments. The remaining 20% was made up of simple sentences.

Creep and stop, creep and stop, creep…and I stopped reading on page 10.

Fortunately, the book I read after that put me securely back on the road to relief and enrichment. And, when I finished it, I baked.

The Chèvre cookies pictured above are my new favorites—rich yet light, tart yet just sweet enough, and altogether as satisfying as a work of nuanced and soul-nourishing fiction.

I was going to rant today about the overuse of sentence fragments. In fact, to illustrate how annoying they are, I was going to write an entire post in sentence fragments, but I’d much rather share cookies with you. The recipe uses gluten free flour, although wheat flour can be substituted in equal measure.

***

Chèvre Cookies

Ingredients

4 ounces softened Chèvre
4 tablespoons softened unsalted cultured butter
4 tablespoons softened Spectrum Organic Vegetable Shortening
1 scant cup gluten free flour mix**

Beat Chèvre, butter, and shortening until creamy. Beat in flour mix. When combined into a soft, yet firm enough to handle dough, shape first into a ball, then into a log about 2” in diameter, and 1 foot long. Wrap in parchment and refrigerate overnight.

The Next Day….

Preheat oven to 375º. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Mix 2/3-3/4 cup sugar with 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon.

Remove dough log from refrigerator. Unwrap and flatten the ends of the logs. With a sharp knife, cut the log into slices about 1/8” thick. Dredge the slices with the cinnamon sugar, and place on prepared cookie sheet about 2″ apart.

Bake for 10-13 minutes, turning pan halfway through, until the cookies are golden brown. Cool on cookie sheet for five minutes, then transfer to a rack to finish cooling.

**Gluten Free flour mix
1 cup brown rice flour
1 cup white rice flour
2/3 corn starch
1/3 cup tapioca starch

Happy baking. Happy eating. Happy reading.

©2021 All Rights Reserved

Posted in food, human nature, Mothers, Nature

Hunger


I’ve been thinking about aromas.

When I was in college, the popular scent was patchouli. You could smell it in classrooms, dorms, practice rooms, the library…pretty much everywhere. I could never understand why women liked it. To me, it smelled like dirt. And not that fresh soil smell that rises into the air after a summer rain, promising the emergence of a range floral essences. No, patchouli was more on the order of earth worms to me, amassing on every pathway after a storm, making each step a challenge to avoid a nasty squish underfoot.

Dirt.

My mother wore Shalimar. It mixed with her chemistry in a way that made her smell like warm cookies—heady with vanilla and something other…exotic. Every so often, when I was out with her, I’d catch someone behind her sniffing and I’d smile, imagining them running off to a nearby bakery to nourish themselves with that fragrance, fill the need it aroused.

Cookies.

In the natural world, there are fragrances that evoke the same response.

Honeysuckle is one of them. It grew in abundance where I lived, and I used to pick the white blooms and suck the nectar from them. No one ever told me not to. I doubt I would have listened if they did. It was one of the pleasures of childhood, being lured by their scent, knowing the rewards they’d deliver.

The other is clover, which is flourishing this year.

I’m a simple person at heart, I think. Over the years I’ve sampled all forms of honey—wildflower, acacia, blueberry, orange blossom, but I keep going back to clover honey. I don’t know why, but it never occurred to me that the elusive fragrance I have caught on so many walks might be emanating from those small white and pink blossoms…

…until yesterday, when the scent was so overwhelming I had to stop and inhale—a true singer’s breath, the kind I learned to take before a long demanding phrase—and close my eyes, to draw it into my spirit as well as my lungs. When I opened them again, and looked down, I saw the grass overgrown with flowers, and picked one. And sniffed.

And I was so very hungry.

©2019 All Rights Reserved

Log In

Posted in cooking, creativity, food, human nature

Therapy

Have you ever noticed a scent coming back to you hours or days after you inhaled it, as fresh and as potent as it was? And have you noticed that memories associated with that scent come rushing back as well? And that the same thing happens with objects you may see? Or sounds you may hear? A train whistle fading as it passes, a siren rushing to an emergency? Wind chimes warning of an approaching storm?

My head has been swarming with thoughts and memories, dredged up by sensory overload. I could drown out the noise by focusing on yet another volume of fictional angst and fury that dwarfs my own, as I have been doing the past month, but today I yearn only to bake bread.

There’s something wholly satisfying about proofing yeast, the stringent, heady vapors it produces, blending ingredients, small batches at a time until they form a dough that can be twisted, pounded, and kneaded into a satiny mass, rolled into a greased bowl and left to rise, only to be worked again. And when the dough is ready to bake—having been dressed with beaten egg or butter, its aroma rises from the oven, saturating the air, replacing all the other offending scents and sights and sounds with the knowledge that nourishment and pleasure are in the future, along with the joy of that first warm bite, slathered with honey or butter or nothing.

How sweet to look at that glistening, golden braid, or round, or loaf, and say, I made that. How thoroughly soothing; how incomparably delicious.

©2019 All Rights Reserved