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Nostalgia Bread

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This probably should have been a Mother’s Day post, but my head was off on Mother’s Day, drifting to other days and dreaming of date-nut bread sandwiches and comfort.

We went on a lot of outings, my mother and I—to the theater, ballet, opera, museums, and shopping. We dressed up for every excursion, even to shop, choosing stylish dresses, or skirts and blouses, then later, smart pantsuits—and, of course, sturdy walking shoes.

I don’t know how my mother managed it, as she worked full time. But it seemed we were always going somewhere together when I was growing up.  And when we did, we had favorite places to lunch or simply recharge.

One of them was Chock Full O’Nuts.

In those years, it seemed as though the restaurants were on every block.

I remember heading indoors out of the cold or heat, lured by the scent of their freshly brewed coffee, and climbing up onto stools to sit at the counter. We’d order drinks, and always date-nut bread and cream cheese sandwiches. They were a blend of sweet and crunchy substances and tangy cream—a perfect comfort food.

A few years ago, I set out to recreate my own version of these treats, adding some personal favorites to the traditional blend of dates and walnuts. The result was both comforting and nourishing, as well as calorie rich and decadent.

Since I’m allergic to cow’s milk, I opted for chèvre instead of cream cheese (you know how much I love goats, right?). But for those who don’t have that restriction, go for the original. There’s nothing like a good, old-fashioned shmear….

NOSTALGIA BREAD

Ingredients

1 & 1/2 cups chopped dates

1/2 cup boiling water

1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar

1 tablespoon of honey

3 tablespoons vegetable oil or melted butter

3 tablespoons molasses

two large or extra large eggs

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1 small zucchini, grated

1/3 cup mini dark chocolate chips

1 cup, minus two tablespoons flour

2 tablespoons coconut flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions

Preheat oven to 350º.  Liberally grease an 8″ x 4″ bread pan with butter.  Pour boiling water over chopped dates. sugar, and honey, and let stand for 15 minutes. Beat in eggs, molasses, oil, and vanilla, then add nuts and grated zucchini.  Sift dry ingredients over the liquid mix, and blend. The batter should be substantial, but not overly thick. If it’s too runny, add flour a tablespoon at a time until it’s right. If it’s too thick, add water or coconut milk until it loosens up.

Bake in prepared pan for 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean. Cool in pan on rack, then dive in and devour!

 

 

 

 

 

Testing, Testing….

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Cookies by Laura Fortune

I taste everything before I serve it to guests. It’s a necessity since I like to experiment and rarely use a cookbook, except occasionally as a guide to how much of this and how much of that I need to add if I’m concocting a dish or dessert I’ve never tried before. Cooking is chemistry, after all, and I wouldn’t want anything to collapse, or worse, blow up, metaphorically speaking, of course.

I even have my husband taste my creations, to verify they are company-ready. I want my offerings to reflect how much I care about those I’m serving. I’m not a warm and fuzzy person. Nor am I physically demonstrative, overly affectionate. But when it comes to food, I give freely and lavishly. For me, food is as profound and physical an expression of love as a kiss or hug. Food should not only nourish; it should arouse, delight, affirm, and satisfy on the deepest levels. So, I would never offer anyone less than my best. Ever.

The same is true with writing. I can’t say that everything that appears here will be brilliant, but it will have been read and read and read and tested and held and tested again before it is offered. And if it is found lacking after it has been posted, it will be revised, or even removed. Because I would never offer anyone less than my best, ever.

Unfortunately, sometimes, although we plan to finish work in a timely fashion, life interferes and prevents it. We carve out time and then the interruptions come. Little ones, big ones, ones that distract and demand our focus elsewhere.

Life has no respect for creative impulses, creative output.

I’ve been meaning to finish the story of that little bird with sequins on his wings. We all need Whimsy in our lives, especially now. But because life has distracted me, demanded that I focus my attention elsewhere, I can’t give his story the attention it deserves. I could probably hack something out and post it, but it wouldn’t be worth reading—it wouldn’t arouse, delight, affirm, or satisfy. It would be the equivalent of serving you styrofoam.

So, rather than taunt you with unfinished work, morsels that promise a whole meal but leave you empty, I’ve removed Parts I and II.

Whimsy will come back, I promise. Hopefully, sooner than later. And when his story does, it will have been thoroughly taste-tested and approved for consumption.

Because I am so grateful for your interest, your comments, your kindness. Because I would never offer you less than my best.

Ever.

©2017 All Rights Reserved

Digressions

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Drawing by Sam Messer/Writing by Jonathan Safran Foer

The house shakes on a windless day. Three hundred, seventy odd pages in the sun surrenders to hallucinations. Someone cries, “People who don’t speak took me on a ride” and words spill through current—sound, air, light. Who catches them? Who churns them into butter? Where is the grout between twigs and leaves? The substance of safety? What is a house and why does it break?

©2017 All Rights Reserved

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