Sugar, Spice and Everything Martha!- Spiced Almond Wafers! -223 eggs, 168 1/4 cups of sugar, 166 1/4 sticks of Butter, and 205 1/4 cups of flour used so far- 48 recipes to go!

June 19, 2011

Martha's Spiced Almond Wafers

André's Spiced Almond Wafers

My friend and coworker, Audrey recently celebrated her birthday. She and I have a bit of a connection. We’re both products of our strict, Southern upbringings, we both love cats, we both have partners that we’re crazy about, we both love to talk about food and we’re both Francophiles. When I first went to work at the corporation that pays for my food and shelter addiction, Audrey was one of the first to reach out to me with a great deal of positive affirmation and heartfelt support. She believed I could be a writer and now, six years later, voila! She was right. If anyone deserved cookies on their birthday, it was her.

I chose Spiced Almond Wafers because my partner, Dan and I have noticed that most of the women we’ve shared cookies with tend to like the less-sweet varieties. After scanning through the ingredients, I knew this one would appeal to Audrey. She’d mentioned that she likes a good gingerbread and I could tell that the mix of spices in this particular recipe would be right up her alley. The batter was quite simple, a mixture of butter, dark brown sugar, eggs, salt, flour and heavy doses of ginger, clove, nutmeg and cinnamon are all mixed together and placed into a small bread pan. The bread pan is then placed in the freezer to stiffen up so that once removed, it can be sliced into wafer-thin rectangles. Each rectangle is garnished with a few sliced almonds and then baked until crisp.

There’s a Swedish cookie called a Nyacker. It’s essentially a very thin gingersnap that’s an excellent pairing with tea or coffee. The Spiced Almond Wafer is its identical cookie twin with the exception of the almonds on top. Audrey loved her box of wafers. I prepared a box for her to take home and a box to share with the rest of the office. Everyone loved them and they were quickly dispatched.

If you are looking for a delicious and not-too-sweet treat to share, I would recommend whipping up a batch of Martha’s Spice Almond Wafers.

I was watching the CBS Sunday Morning show today and they presented a segment on men dealing with mid-life crisis. At first I thought this didn’t pertain to me. After all, I’m only forty-three. Forty-three? How the hell did that happen? Forty-three is one-half of eighty-six. Do I plan to live eighty-six years? Then I thought- oh, my God! I’m in the middle of my life! I’m middle-aged! Not only that, I’m watching CBS Sunday Morning which means I’m on the top end of the middle-aged demographic! Isn’t CBS Sunday Morning just a gateway drug to Metamucil and competitive shuffleboard? I then started thinking about dyeing the grey remnants of hair that still cling to my temples. I thought about vitamin supplements and good prostate health. I reached up and felt the deep furrows that are a permanent part of the topography of my forehead. There in my living room, still barely awake, clutching the morning mug of coffee, tears welling up in my eyes, I had, what I would term as a MMC, a Mini-Midlife Crisis. I didn’t feel the need to buy a sports car or seek out a younger partner or have Botox treatments or any other other such nonsense. I just became very sad. Where did the time go?

A moment later, the sadness passed and, once again, was left with my thoughts, examining what just happened. Honestly, I don’t feel older.  I’m certainly not the person I was five, ten, fifteen, or twenty years ago but I’m certainly not an old man and don’t really have plans of becoming one any time soon.

It was in the second grade that the nuns made an attempt to teach us a bit of math by having each of us figure out how old we would be in the year 2000. The year 2000 seemed so far away… a lifetime really. It was 1975, after all. I figured, like most of my classmates since we were all roughly the same age, that I’d be thirty-two in the year 2000.  The nuns then had us draw a picture of ourselves doing what we thought we’d be doing at the age of thirty-two when we welcomed in the year 2000.

Most of my classmates drew themselves as mommies or daddies with several children and big houses under smiling suns. Not me. I remember picturing myself in the distant future. I was tall and rugged with really cool sideburns and several gold-chain necklaces like all the really handsome men on TV. I was wearing a lab coat over a denim shirt which was unbuttoned low enough to reveal a forest of wispy chest hair. I was working as a scientist shuffling test tubes about. I loved science class as a child and had my heart set on being one even though I had no idea of what scientists really did except boil colorful liquids and create the occasional monster.

Had I know then how, twenty-five years later,  I would actually welcome in the year 2000, my crayon drawing would’ve been quite different. If they had seen it, the nuns would’ve probably sent me to the counselor’s office. It would’ve been a drawing of me getting excessively drunk on a balcony in Louisville, Kentucky watching a rather large laser beam being shot into the night sky in some sort of lame and affordable attempt to welcome in the new millennium while I made plans of dumping the man I had been with for three-and-a-half years later that evening. I did have wispy chest hair and was shuffling glasses of colorful liquid so my second-grade drawing was not without some accuracies.

My life was so different than what that seven-year-old boy imagined. Where did the time go? Now, eleven years after that night in Louisville, I’m someone very different than who that drunk thirty-two year old imagined he’d one day be. I guess evolution is inevitable and as much as we resist change, we do. It’s as though time and change are in cahoots. One hurtles us towards our own eventual demise while the other prepares us for it. Priorities become shuffled as we learn to become more wary without, hopefully, becoming weary. Is this what it means to grow up?

If that is so, then do we really ever finish maturing emotionally, intellectually, spiritually or is it a perpetual state of being? Is the choice between growing up or giving up?

So, dear producers of CBS Sunday Morning, thank you for sending me into an early morning tailspin. Well played. I’ll admit, I am not young anymore. In fact, I may only have a few more years of being officially middle-aged before I enter into the limbo of my fifties, floating somewhere between middle-aged and old. I will, however, continue to grow. I will continue to change. I will continue to explore all of who I am and all of who I can and will be.

What you call a crisis is really an opportunity- an opportunity to stop, look at where I’ve been, look forward to where I’m going and embrace another day in the ever-changing world of me. Think you can keep up? Think again.

In my mind’s eye I’ve drawn a crayon picture of myself twenty-five years in the future and, no, there’s no tombstone involved. I see a sunny beach, a loving partner, maybe a tattoo and a dog or two and finally those really, freakin’ cool sideburns.

One Response to “Sugar, Spice and Everything Martha!- Spiced Almond Wafers! -223 eggs, 168 1/4 cups of sugar, 166 1/4 sticks of Butter, and 205 1/4 cups of flour used so far- 48 recipes to go!”

  1. Eri Says:

    Start growing those sideburns now! Hey, I bypassed CBS Sunday Morning and went straight to the Metamucil. But I’m resisting filling out my AARP app.
    I really love what you said here: “It’s as though time and change are in cahoots. One hurtles us towards our own eventual demise while the other prepares us for it.”
    But I’m so muddled these days, I never know which is which.

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