I’m Broken-Hearted, Martha! – Raspberry-Honey Financiers! -204 eggs, 156 1/4 cups of sugar, 150 1/2 sticks of Butter, and 190 1/4 cups of flour used so far- 61 recipes to go!

March 28, 2011

Martha's Raspberry-Honey Financiers

André's Raspberry-Honey Financiers

Beautiful, sophisticated, complex and utterly disappointing. That’s how I could describe Martha’s Raspberry-Honey Financiers. A financier is the name given to a small French cake made with almond flour and browned butter. It has a dense pound cake-like consistency and is often served with tea. The name is in reference to the traditional rectangular baking pan that most of these cakes are baked in. The shape is not unlike tiny bars of gold and therefore the name seemed fitting. Martha suggest making these using miniature muffin pans.

The amount of work involved in baking a batch of these was intense. Almonds had to be toasted and then ground into a fine powder. Butter had to be browned in a saucepan. Fresh raspberries had to be puréed and then strained through cheesecloth to remove the seeds. It was all a bit much to bake a batch of cakes that aren’t very sweet or very complex in flavor. How Martha qualifies these as cookies is anyone’s guess. They are quite pretty, although as you can see from my photo above, I didn’t quite master the raspberry purée heart-shape. Mine look more like a drop of blood. They’re blood, sweat and ultimately, once tasted,  tears cookies. Yum!

I baked a batch of these for my partner’s co-worker’s birthday. She was so excited to see I had baked her a celebratory cookie. That is, of course, until she tasted one of these golden and moist bits of disappointment.  The reviews came back with unanimous downturned thumbs awarding this recipe the honorable title of second worse next to the undigestible and unservable Key Lime Bars.

I’ve had quite a few disappointments in my life. Most of them have been self-inflicted. I don’t think anyone can disappoint us more than ourselves. My weight has always been an issue in my life and it has fluctuated dramatically through the years. As an adult, I’ve maintained a constant weight somewhere between 130 and 250 pounds. That’s a pretty wide gap. I’d like to say that I have a grip on my current weight but, in reality,  I don’t. I certainly don’t exercise enough. (Cookie baking and typing are not exactly aerobic activities.)  I smoke. (Yes, after four months off the cancer sticks, I picked them up again like an idiot.) I don’t watch what I eat. (This is not entirely true. My eyes are completely open when I eat.)

All of these contribute to my ever-growing anxiety around my health. This anxiety is compounded by the fact that everything in our culture preaches against the dangers of obesity and smoking. So, I find myself a middle-aged fat man that smokes to deal with his ever-increasing anxiety around being an overweight smoker. This is what is known as unhealthy cyclical behavior. (Perhaps I should dial 9 then 1 now and then just wait?)

I’m not an ignorant man. I know what I need to do to get myself out of this rut and have plans to soon pull myself out of the bleak and brackish waters of my own self-pity. Over the course of my forty-three years I’ve found myself in this situation an embarrassingly high  number of times. That said, I come from a family that proudly excuses our slow metabolism and affection for all things that contain butter as a byproduct of our hereditary  “Big Bones.” I don’t buy this. After having one of those physical scans a few years ago, you know the ones where they measure your fat with metal pinchers and calculate your BMI, I was told that I  have a small frame. A small frame supporting a huge portrait!

This depressed me. If I do indeed have a small frame, that means my ideal weight is around 155-165 pounds. Without revealing my true weight, I can shamefully say that I am nowhere in the neighborhood of this weight range. In fact, I’m not even in a close suburb. In fact, if my goal weight was Manhattan, my current weight would be Istanbul.

I remember when I was in sixth grade my Mom took me to see the doctor for a check up. It was the first time the weight issue came up and he put me on a low-carbohydrate diet. I didn’t know what a carbohydrate was. Of course, now as a supposed grown-up I know what carbs are and, I have to say,  I love every single one of them, especially with coffee.

My mom implemented this recommended diet by cutting out a few sweets here and there and sending me to school with a lunch bag containing a spoon and a can of potted meat or sardines in mustard sauce. This may have helped me cut down on the carbs but my salt intake was through the roof. Luckily, I never suffered a stroke in sixth grade, although I was the poor kid that smelled like processed meat products one day and stale fish the other.

I have to remind myself that my Mom’s generation never really had any training in nutrition or proper eating habits and therefore my sisters and I didn’t really receive any either. I remember when the Food Pyramid was rolled out to schools across the nation I thought to myself  “Houston, we have a problem.”. Six to seven servings of vegetables a day? I hope French fries count. Is ketchup a vegetable?

I recently made a little cruel doodle that I keep at my work desk. It’s just one of a number of little tortuous devices I make for myself to keep myself humble and in therapy.

It’s a chart of my weight fluctuations through the years.  It consists of my age with a crude drawing next to it representing what I think looked like. It goes like this:

Ages 0-2  DUMBO (the cute baby one, not the gullible grown one with the feather in his trunk)

Ages 3-10 CALVIN from CALVIN & HOBBS (I had a big head filled with lots of imaginary friends)

Ages 11-15 NANCY from the comic strip, NANCY (hair issues with a questionable weight problem)

Ages 16-20 ARCHIE from the comic strip, ARCHIE (Not bad looking- just dumb with a big appetite)

Ages 21-27 ROSEANNE BARR before TOM ARNOLD (She was pleasantly plump and funny)

Ages 28-31 ROSEANNE BARR after TOM ARNOLD ( bitter and temperamental pit bull)

Ages 32- 34 CHUCK NORRIS (buff and not to be messed with)

Ages 35-40 DILBERT (work then home then waiting to die – Repeat)

AGES 41-43 MALL SANTA CLAUS (Ho Ho Ho!- My left arm’s numb!)

I wouldn’t suggest creating such a chart for yourself. In fact, I may destroy it when I get to work tomorrow.

Does this mean I hate myself? No, certainly not. I think we’re too quick to jump to that conclusion in today’s society. I can love my fat ass and still not want my ass to be so damn fat.  I don’t feel sorry for myself, either. I got this size of my own free will and, by God, I’ll shed the weight through my own free will… eventually.

This is a rambling post, I know. See what an awful mood a disappointing cookie puts me in?

Doesn’t Martha know every carb is sacred?


3 Responses to “I’m Broken-Hearted, Martha! – Raspberry-Honey Financiers! -204 eggs, 156 1/4 cups of sugar, 150 1/2 sticks of Butter, and 190 1/4 cups of flour used so far- 61 recipes to go!”

  1. Cecilia Says:

    Well, Andre, believe it or not I have struggled with my weight since about 32. I know I was a beanpole @ STM and very active. I weighed all of 98lbs just before getting pregnant @ 15. You may have never heard the whole story, but I will bore you with it now. 9th grade @ SJA..ha..ha..how did we get such a reputation!! Well I started dating a ..shhh..public school guy. The first time it actually got through my mind that I was pregnant was in gym class, can’t remember what we were doing, but I was laying on the floor on my stomach and it felt like I was partly on the floor and the carpet..well when I looked down, iwas on the floor..ohhh..bump in the belly. I was 6 months pregnant before we ever told our parents. That was tough..April in Louisiana and I was still wearing my pullover sweater. Well when I gave birth to my WONDERFUL son, I weighed 160lbs…wow!! Well being so young it came off pretty quick, but I never saw 98lbs again and that is what has bothered me. I fluctuated, but I always stayed active in my mid and late 20’s. If I gained a few lbs..I would just cut back and lose the 5 or 10lbs.

    I know I did not have your struggles, but I just wanted my old self back. Well about 5 years ago I was stuck..I was 151lbs and did not like it. I went through a weight loss program and lost 21lbs. I learned how to eat, it was not easy, but I did it. I have put back on about 10lbs and struggle with food. I love food!!! I’m at a point where I want to loose the weight, but you now how the food is here…it’s either fried, cooked in butter or fried..lol.. I do pretty good, but just to let you know everyone struggles with anxieties.

    Anyway..I do have a 26 year old son that I would NEVER go back if I could and change anything!!! It was tough, but that’s another story for another time. Take care and know that despite everything…I am your friend.

  2. Awwwww, Cecilia. I am so glad you found me after all these years. What a story! How old is your oldest now? Weight is and will probably always be an issue. I can either complain about it or do something about it. (I wonder how many calories complaining burns?) Anyhoo, best of luck to the both of us.
    I figure I’m just a quadruple amputation from my goal weight. Woo-Hoo!

  3. tommy salami Says:

    When I last saw you for cough, brunch at the Chimes, I thought you looked quite well. Then again I am larger than you. I’ve been ignoring diet by hitting the gym, so I’m one of those musclebound gut guys that chase silent film stars, usually wearing suspenders with a tiny derby hat on their heads.
    You could probably reach your goal weight in a year of hard work and then maintain it without giving up your beloved treats entirely, but I don’t think it’s worth it. If you’re healthy and happy, do we really care what a bunch of skinny bitches think?

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