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, food, Nature

Along the Way

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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

 

Posted in fiction, Flash Fiction, food, human nature, language, writing

Pudding

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Once upon a time, there was Comfort, and there was Safety, and each was known for its own special meaning. Because the two got along so well, they developed a relationship of mutual respect and autonomy. Comfort could live without Safety, and Safety could live without Comfort; but as they discovered they were often better together, enhancing each other’s unique qualities, they preferred not to be apart.

All was well in their relationship for a while, until a strange thing began to happen: people started to mistake one for the other—saying, I want comfort, when, in fact, what they really meant was, I want safety, and vice versa. At first, Comfort and Safety were amused by the confusion. However, as it increased, they found themselves squabbling over which of them was needed for this or that purpose, with one saying, You go, and the other saying, No, you. The result was that either both of them would show up, or neither would, leaving people so confounded and frustrated, that there was no recourse but to heap enormous bags of connotation on them in an attempt to clarify their uses. This left the two stricken and pained, and so weighted down that they suffered severe identity crises, and, eventually, could not function at all.

Naturally, their relationship soured.

Comfort, who had never had a secure sense of self-esteem to begin with, due to being overshadowed by safety’s stalwart nature and moral certainty, wanted to seek Therapy.

But Safety scoffed at the idea, claiming Therapy’s definite article was misused and over-prescribed, making it a cliché.

If Comfort had been of a different ilk, it would have pointed out the rich irony of Safety’s comment, considering that both of them had been described as illusions. But, since arguing was antithetical to Comfort’s nature, it said nothing. And, ignoring a string of modifiers that were now dangling from one of its overstuffed bags, it slunk away, and plunged into a vat of warm chocolate pudding to console itself.

Meanwhile, Safety was not about to sit and wait for Comfort’s return. Who did Comfort think it was anyway, ditching Safety for speaking the truth? The nerve! Safety was so miffed, that it hoisted itself, and its baggage, up, and stalked off, determined to find and court Happiness.

But, as Happiness, in a fit of paranoia, had taken a nose dive into the chocolate pudding with Comfort, it was a pursuit that proved utterly futile.

©2018 All Rights Reserved