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, food, Nature

Along the Way

binocular country lane filter focus
Photo by SplitShire on Pexels.com

I tried a bit of ice cream the other day, a popular brand, and didn’t like it. The taste of sugar was so overpowering, it was impossible for me to taste anything else.

When I bake, I under-sweeten. I want to taste nuts and fruit and chocolate, experience how they complement each other. Sugar should tone down acidity or bitterness, or simply enhance flavors, not dominate them.

Domination is too prevalent these days, too accepted. Maybe that’s why sugar came to mind.

When foods are cooked properly their natural sugars will develop. I often glaze pecans with a light blend of organic maple syrup and sea salt. Our family and guests love them. But yesterday I was lazy and toasted them without the glaze. They emerged sweet and dangerously addictive from the oven, and we gobbled them up. No one asked about the missing glaze. No one cared.

***

When I was seven my parents sent me to summer camp, far away from where we lived. It was my first time on an airplane. It was the first time I would be away from them for months.

I hated it.

But, strangely, what I remember most about that camp were the raspberries.

They grew wild and in abundance along the mountain path which led to a nearby lake, and our swimming lessons.

We didn’t pick any on the way up. Everyone’s parents had issued warnings about not swimming on a full stomach. Indeed, the trek to our lessons always occurred at least an hour after lunch. But on the way back to our cabins, we picked as many as we could stuff into our pockets and eat along the way, ignoring our counselors’ advice to leave them there.

You’ll get worms, you’ll get sick.

We heard it every day. But we never did.

And I’ve never tasted such large and perfectly ripe berries since, berries that squirted sweetness with every bite, and no trace of acidity.

I used to buy berries for salads and desserts, picking, as I do with all produce I purchase, the ones that look ripest, ready for consumption.

But they are always too tart for me, begging for the sugar they have not been allowed to make on their own.

So I don’t buy them anymore.

***

I learned to swim that summer. It’s the other memory that stands out, because I discovered, once I realized I wasn’t going to drown, I was good at it.

But sometimes I long for those raspberries—the anticipation of putting them in my mouth, delighting in their exquisitely balanced flavors…

…and the incomparable pleasure of finding something good, unspoiled, of knowing it was there.

©2018 All Rights Reserved