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 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


Posted in Uncategorized

A Humble Offering

Screen Shot 2018-11-18 at 12.15.59 PM

As we all know, another holiday season is upon us, which means an assortment of activities, invitations, and celebrations involving food.

I am not shy about admitting  I’ve had a love-hate relationship with food all my life. Growing up with food allergies was no picnic (sorry, couldn’t resist). Finding out in midlife that I could no longer eat wheat, rye, or barley was both a relief and an inconvenience.  How was I going to eat out? What was I going to do if I was invited to someone’s home for dinner? And on and on.

Oh, I messed up a few times, wound up as a guest in someone’s home looking at a table full of dishes that were forbidden to me, but, gradually, I learned how to survive. Which leads to the following….

If you are on a restricted diet, and are invited to someone’s home for a large sit-down or buffet dinner (buffets are definitely easiest to navigate), please let your hosts know about your restrictions as soon as you receive the invitation and ask if they’ve planned the menu. If they have not, ask if you can contribute one of your favorite dishes to the meal. If they have, offer to bring one or more of the dishes your host wants to serve made to serve your needs (I always offer to bring gluten free baked goods, since they are my specialty). So far, I have not encountered a host or hostess who has balked at help, particularly with a big guest list. If they do balk, even after you’ve explained there are things you can’t eat, ask if they would be terribly insulted if you brought something for yourself. If that idea upsets them, and you still really want to go, then eat beforehand, stuff a protein bar or some other filling snack into your purse or pocket for discreet nibbling between courses, and eat whatever looks safest. (Tip: if your host is preparing a salad, and you’re concerned about the dressing, you can always ask if they would set aside a portion of it for you before they dress and serve it. Most cooks don’t dress their salads until right before they bring it to the table, to avoid wilting, so this is usually a safe request, and will avoid the embarrassment of having to explain why your plate is empty.)

I say all this as one who has done all of the above. I do not expect hosts to cook special dishes for me. I do hope they will allow me to bring complementary dishes I can eat and share, but if they don’t, I come prepared in other ways.

Everyone is stressed during the holidays, and the fact that everyone’s expectations for a greeting-card-perfect holiday season are high just magnifies that stress. If you’re like me, and have special dietary needs, please remember that your hosts are as stressed as you. Being honest and offering them help will go a long way toward alleviating that stress for all of you.

Just a little advice, for what it’s worth.

Have a joyous and blessed holiday season, dear friends.

Peace.

©2018 All Rights Reserved