Slumdog Millionaire’s Shortbread

March 23, 2012 § 10 Comments

All through our childhoods, my brothers and I were only allowed candy on Saturdays – lørdags godt, “Saturday treat.”  Each Saturday we were given our allowance, to drop into the cleaned out yogurt containers that functioned as piggybanks, plus a quarter (adjusted up over the years to a dollar, a parent does have to recognize inflation), to clasp hot and sticky in our hands as we ran to the store to spend it on any candy of our choosing.

We had a complete free market phenomenon going on with our Saturday treat allotment, and (without remotely having the terminology to talk about it) we became very shrewd at calculating the relative utility of each variety of candy as compared to its cost, in order to determine how we could best balance the quantity versus quality of our purchases.

My brothers erred on the side of quantity.  My indifference curves must have been steeper because I tended to buy exactly the candy I preferred at the time, even if it meant I wouldn’t walk away with pockets bulging.

I remember an intense Mambo phase.  Do you remember those?  Fruit-flavored chews in a similar genre to Starbursts, but ever so much better. For a long time I also harbored a strong preference for Sour Patch kids.  But, as I grew older (and our financial allocation closed in  on a dollar), I – being female, and all – developed a powerful love of chocolate.  I recall many sweet, melty Saturdays of peanut butter cups or Three Musketeers Bars.

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Sesame ginger chocolate mousse – it was only a matter of time

February 14, 2012 § 25 Comments

They say one of the hardest things about love is learning to accept it.  It can be so hard to feel worthy of being loved.  Yet, you can’t fully love others until you accept that you’re loveable as well.

But, I’m not going to spend too much time focusing on anything so weighty today.  I’m focused on mousse.  The hardest thing about chocolate mousse, for me, is that I just made some for Valentine’s Day.  Not super original.  I think that chocolate mousse on Valentine’s Day may actually be the entry in the dictionary for the word trite.  Trite (trîte), adj., trit·er, trit·est 1. making chocolate mousse on Valentine’s Day…

I’m in the camp of people who doesn’t get terribly into Valentine’s Day.  I do love chocolates, and champagne, and flowers.  But, I love them on many more days of the year than just February 14th (and I wouldn’t mind receiving them on many more days too, ahem, Joel, ahem 🙂 ).

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Coconut macaroons

April 22, 2011 § 2 Comments

I have a deep seated love for coconut macaroons. To the degree that it probably seems a little wacky from the outside.  For example, I’m pretty sure that when I look at a coconut macaroon I get that doe-eyed look that an adoring puppy gives to her master or mistress, I love macaroons that much.  They’re a sort of edible security blanket for me, and when I eat one I am bathed in a sense of well-being, an internal lightness… Yeah, it definitely seems a little wacky.  But, lest you judge, I actually have a quasi-rational reason for feeling this way about macaroons.  You see, (and this may be too much information but it’s too late now because I feel the need to explain myself!) I have a wonky digestive disorder that occasionally  leaves me doubled over with stabbing pain in my gut.

The most frustrating thing about it is the sense that your body is rebelling against you.  That you can have seemingly done everything right to care for it and even so the pain will flare up now and then for no apparent reason, leaving you clenching your teeth, fighting back tears, and feeling helpless.  It’s the type of thing that leaves you feeling completely out of control.   And that is something that we as a species don’t seem to like much.  It’s in those moments that we search for talismans or rites, things that we imbue with powers that will allow us to feel we’re in control of the situation, even though we aren’t.  You know, rabbit’s feet, lucky socks, throwing salt over your shoulder, those sorts of things.

Now, a couple of years ago I heard from a little bird that they had read on the internet that coconut can help with digestive issues.  Disclaimer: the internet is not a trustworthy source about these types of things and you can’t just believe medical advice that you read there.  However, in a moment of feeling desperate, I decided to try it.  On my next bad day, I bought and ate a coconut macaroon, and lo and behold within about a half hour it felt as though my intestines suddenly got over their red-faced angry tantrum and simply relaxed.  They unwound.

Some of it may have been the coconut.  Some of it was probably a placebo effect.  I didn’t particularly care.  The placebo effect can give you real results, so if you can use it to your advantage, why not?!  Anyhow, coconut macaroons became my emergency parachute, and I fell in love with them.

They’re easy little treats to fall in love with, whether or not they make you feel better, what with their crunchy exterior and velvety interior and the powerful flavor of coconut lacing every bite.  I also realized after about the 3rd time I ate one that they tasted remarkably like Gjende Kjeks, these delicate, crispy-soft cookies imprinted with a reindeer that we used to eat in Norway when I was little.  A little dose of nostalgia never fails to add to the psychologically therapeutic properties of a food.

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Yogurt cake with pear and dark chocolate

January 29, 2011 § 34 Comments

I don’t know if this is the case in most places, but in the town where I grew up, when you graduated from high school, you had a big open house and invited all your high school friends, teachers, and neighbors. Scheduling was, of course, a nightmare, since come June you suddenly had over a hundred kids all trying to schedule parties within the span of a couple weeks while trying to keep from overlapping too much with anyone else.

During those few weeks there was absolutely no need for parents to attempt to cook because we all wound up hopping from party to party, filling up our bellies from the deli platters, crudites trays, and tiered stands bedecked with bars of all flavors – lemon bars, blondies, 7-layer bars… All in all it was a 3-week showcase of quality Midwestern fare (and truly, I say that with a great deal of fondness).

At that age I had developed the standard teenage angsty sense of needing to show how special I was. And since full out coolness wasn’t in the cards, I instead cultivated an interest in high culture, which, while sophomoric and stilted, also turned out to be sincere. I preened and announced my affection for opera and T.S. Eliot. I sketched and wrote pretentious essays about my thoughts. And I liked fine foods (while also being perfectly happy to stuff my face with Oatmeal Cream Pies or Chewy Chips Ahoy topped with Cool Whip. Ah, the teen years. I’m afraid the cream pies and chips ahoy are the only things I’ve fully outgrown.).

So, for my graduation open house, I asked my mother to have it catered with Indian food, which had only just become available in our area. And, I’m pretty sure I mostly did this because my boyfriend at the time loved Indian food. My party dovetailed with that of next door neighbor, who was (and is) also one of my best friends. We had decided that my house would be the savory food stop, and then she had a dessert buffet. I’m pretty sure I left my party early to go to hers and hover with our friends over the chocolate cakes. « Read the rest of this entry »

Creamy Chocolate “Mousse”

January 4, 2010 § Leave a comment

When I was little, chocolate mousse was by far and away my favorite dessert.  This is because I’ve been pretty much obsessed with whipped cream my entire life (I actually have to work really hard to control this love affair by not buying cream too often!  In college my roommate and I would make vanilla whipped cream and eat it straight almost every night, yikes.)  Chocolate mousse, seemed to me basically rich chocolate whipped cream that you could then top with vanilla whipped cream, just for good measure. « Read the rest of this entry »

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