apple-berry + hazelnut streusel bars

Tuesday, December 30

apple-berry + hazelnut streusel bars | une gamine dans la cuisine

"let it go - the
smashed word broken
open vow or
the oath cracked length
wise - let it go
it was sworn to

let them go - the
truthful liars and
the false fair friends
and the boths and
neithers - you must let them go
they were born to

let all go - the
big small middling
tall bigger really
the biggest and all
things - let all go

so comes love."

                                    ~ 'let it go' by e.e. cummings

Wishing everyone a vivaciously blithe (mind-dust free) 2015!  Sometimes my tiny space feels lost in a hidden pocket of the blogosphere's ether; thank you for visiting, commenting and constantly reminding me why I keep returning to this cosy, flour-speckled nook. xoxo

{At some point in 2015, Tom Hiddleston will play Recuerdos de la Alhambra (for me) on guitar, I'm convinced.}

Hiddles Darling holiday cookies

Thursday, December 11

Hiddles darling holiday cookies | une gamine dans la cuisine

I inherited my mother's delicate hummingbird bones and gregarious knees {as a teenager, my knees were more talkative than I was in the early mornings}. Even though I prefer the calm serenity of yoga,  every other year or so I take up running for a handful of months.

When the mercury plummets, I resort to using as archaic treadmill that dwells in my damp, stone-walled basement/dungeon. For some idiosyncratic reason I don't like the jarring feel of running shoes on vinyl, instead I wear yoga socks with sticky, grippy dots (aka, Spiderman socks!). The socks, apparently, are not as Spidey as I had least not when they're up against rogue cats. Last week, Niles, in the midst of a phantom mouse chase, decided to take a short cut across a moving treadmill. In an effort to avoid a collision, I performed an inventive, square dance-esqe sidestep; my loquacious left knee was not amused. What began as a tickle, has morphed into a throbbing pain that radiates down my entire outer leg. I *loathe* being inactive. If I'm careful, I can eke out an errant yoga or pilates session, but even gentle movements sometimes ignite my knee's understandable ire.

What does this have to do with cookies (or Tom)? Not much, really. As I was soothing my knee in a hot bubble bath, I focused on a bottle of St. Ives oatmeal shower gel that was sitting on the ledge. The word 'Ives' is comforting; almost like ivy, which, for someone who loves all things verdant & green, is delectable. Ivy eventually led to eyes and eyes led, naturally, to Tom Hiddleston. Kind eyes and chewy cookies are capable of alleviating woes, ouches and fluttering knees.

mile-high apple cranberry pie

Monday, December 1

mile-high apple cranberry pie | une gamine dans la cuisine

"I don't know which to prefer,
the beauty of inflections 
or the beauty of innuendos.
The blackbird whistling 
or just after." 
         ~ Wallace Stevens, from "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird" 
Happy December, everyone. For several weeks now, one of my oak trees has served as a stark meeting nook for a pair of ravens. They form various ink blot patterns against a milk grey, late-autumn sky and crooked branches. As a lover of all things Poe, I have always been fascinated with ravens; their errant, melodic *caws* are a welcome addition to the morning symphony of coffee grinding and soft spoken NPR news.

Heart fluttering holiday chaos + slippery (white-knuckled!) driving aside, I'm slightly enamored with the chivalrous month of December. Its ephemeral light makes it difficult to squeeze in food photos, but unlike January and February, I don't mind the time constraint. I'll sigh at the 4:30 pm sun & occasionally rap two fingers nervously against my lips whilst rearranging plates and napkins, but that's the extent of Decemberling angst. By mid-winter I'm a fidgeting, disheveled basket case. If they're still around, maybe the obsidian feathered visitors will keep my mind focused and clear - even during winter's bleakest streak. My whimsical half, the part who relished fabled stories and grew up watching Faerie Tale Theatre, is convinced they are Odin's Huginn and Muninn. Maybe Loki isn't too far behind...

cinnamon walnut pear cake with whiskey-mocha fudge

Sunday, November 16

cinnamon walnut pear cake with whiskey-mocha fudge | une gamine dans la cuisine

"But there is always a November space after the leaves have fallen when she felt it was almost indecent to intrude on the woods...for their glory terrestrial had departed and their glory celestial of spirit and purity and whiteness had not yet come upon them." 
                                                      ~ L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Windy Poplars 
Half my kitchen lost power two weeks ago, a term apparently known as a brownout; unfortunately my oven was included in the bereft half. Adding briny salt to the wound, my archaic boiler also stubbornly refused to produce heat properly (three cheers for farmhouse living!). Thankfully *knock on wood,* everything is now functioning perfectly. 

Currently there's a heavy blanket of snow coating the ground, trees, and a befuddled picnic table. Heat is crackling through vintage cosy vents and the oven is content to procure its beloved pies and cakes again, but I am not ready for the glacial chill. I don't know why snow and winter tap into an almost primal feeling of claustrophobia; as though the oppressive milky-grey sky will never again yield to spring's blue or the lush stormy celery greens' of summer. I was literally just beginning to allow myself to melt into the earthiness of autumn. If I dust off the philosopher's stone, there's a tiny part of me, as sharp & shattering as a hip bone, that relishes the grey and the cold and the endlessness. Maybe I fear yielding to this darker half completely, someday. But aren't we all a heady smorgasbord of idiosyncrasies? I doubt I'd feel complete without the sporadic brooding and occasional bout of melancholy.

Four days without heat in 30 F. temperatures makes one extra introspective, obvs. It also induces savage cravings for spiced cakes + wicked dark chocolate things.

salted cinnamon dulce de leche tart with whiskey whipped cream

Monday, November 3

salted cinnamon dulce de leche tart with whiskey whipped cream | une gamine dans la cuisine

" Another year gone, leaving everywhere 
its rich spiced residues: vines, leaves,

the uneaten fruits crumbling damply
in the shadows, unmattering back

from the particular island
of this summer, this NOW, that now is nowhere

except underfoot, moldering 
in that black subterranean castle

of unobservable mysteries - roots and sealed seeds
and the wandering of water. This

I try to remember when time's measure
painfully chafes, for instance when autumn

flares out at the last, boisterous and like us longing
to stay - how everything lives, shifting

from one bright vision to another, forever 
in these momentary pastures."

~ Fall Song, by Mary Oliver 
There's a peculiar, raw umber coloured piece of gnarled wood on one of my ceiling beams. Depending on what shade of mood I'm in, it either resembles a whimsical Mark Twain with a daisy tucked behind one ear, or the foreboding profile of a clown (aren't most clowns a bit ominous, anyway?).  I stare at this nonconformist bit of gnarled wood as I'm polishing off the last few minutes of yoga (or pseudo napping on the sofa). This morning, whilst enjoying my morning coffee, I happened to gaze upon it from a different angle. Instead of a brilliant, wild-haired writer or psychotic clown, I saw a Celtic ash tree with three stoic ravens + spiraling branches that appeared to be leaning away from a glacial northerly wind. I suddenly felt morose. The newly discovered tree is bewitching, but its bare boned silhouette and stark sentinels remind me of November's abruptness. How is it possible that the leaves have already fallen so completely from every tree? I still have lofty plans for 2014. The me from last March is pacing, anxiously, hoping that this time things will be different. The thought of another unending heartless winter, claustrophobic eight hour days; not being capable of quieting the ghosts who ask me to try the impossible, again & again's almost too much to bear.

This time of year always saturates my thoughts with fevered woes, worries, aspirations & whimseys that were never fully wrung out. Contrary to my contrary self, I'm still ridiculously hopeful. More than likely, it's the remnants of a willful head cold.

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