Whisky Shots With Martha!- Bourbon Currant Cookies! -241 eggs, 182 1/2 cups of sugar, 185 sticks of Butter, and 231 1/2 cups of flour used so far- 33 recipes to go!

September 17, 2011


Martha's Bourbon Currant Cookies

André's Bourbon Currant Cookies

We have these quarterly breakfast meetings at work with a crowd of around 130 people. Due to departments tightening their belts, breakfast is now supplied by the attendees. I, of course, am always tagged to bring cookies to these meetings. I’ve always joked that more alcohol in the workplace could be our new and innovative strategy and so while I was skimming through Martha’s Cookie Book glancing at the few cookies I have yet to bake, Bourbon Currant Cookies seemed like a good match. Generally I don’t like baking cut-out cookies. They are time consuming and require far too many steps to render successful confections. Bourbon Currant Cookies were, however, a breeze. Butter, sugar, eggs and flour are combined with a bit of bourbon and zante currants into a stiff dough which is separated into two disks and refrigerated for just twenty minutes or so to stiffen it a bit more. Each disk is then rolled out and cut out with a cookie cutter of your choosing. Martha suggested going with a gambling theme of hearts, clubs, diamonds and spades. Since I didn’t have any of these suggested cutters and didn’t want to bake cookies that look like they were intended for a game of bridge, I used a simple star cutout.  Each cutout is then brushed with heavy cream and a bit of egg so they have a nice glossy exterior. They are then baked until golden and placed on a wire rack to cool.

How are they?

These cookies are quite subtle in flavor and, as you can see from my photo, the recipe yields a prolific amount. The bourbon is barely detectable on the palate. They are slightly sweet and buttery and, although delicious, they are not the most flavorful of Martha’s cookies. My colleagues and co-workers enjoyed them, though and they looked beautiful and, if I do say so, impressive.

So, if you find yourself facing the need to make a lot of cookies really quickly with just a few ingredients, give this one a shot. Don’t worry if you don’t have any bourbon in the house. Substitute it for rum, vanilla extract or another favorite flavor.

Beau

Every neighborhood has one. You know what I’m talking about, the house that is in a constant state of disrepair, children’s toys strewn about an uncut lawn, mechanical parts littering the porch, a tarp stretched across a roof along with unkept promises of a distant future re-shingling. Oh, and a small dog of no particular breed with matted hair and a penchant for yipping through the early morning hours. I’m happy to say this wasn’t out home. It was, however, the Anders’. The Anders lived next to our backyard neighbor’s lot and their unkempt lawn butted against a corner of our chain link fence. The Anders were a quirky family consisting of a silent mother, a skittish older son, a fairly nonexistent younger son and a pedantic and self-absorbed patriarch.

The Anders belonged to our church and so it was fairly common to exchange pleasantries with them on Sundays or to wave “hello” to them during the weekdays, all the while thinking “cut your grass, you deadbeat”. I’d often watch the goings-on at the Anders household from atop a metal and wood treehouse of sorts in our backyard. Their oldest son, Beau was just a few years older than myself. He was tall for his age and had a head of tight blonde curls. He had blue-grey eyes deep set behind a prominent brow. They were always affixed in a permanent expression of confusion. Often when we’d speak they would dart from side-to-side in a state of hyper-awareness. He spoke in a self-conscious manner. Beau had a learning disability. I had heard my parents speak of it and Mr. Anders would often feign his family’s suffering while using words like “stupid” and “idiot” right in front of his son who would absorb each verbal stab without flinching. I liked Beau but my parents didn’t want me hanging around him because he was bad news and I might catch his “stupid”. Mr. Anders didn’t seem to want me hanging around Beau because every time he’d catch us speaking to one another across the fence, he’d call out for Beau to finish his chores. These chores must have always been inside because there was no evidence that anything was being tended to outside the Ander’s home.

Mr. Anders didn’t work. He was on some sort of disability which made him a permanent fixture in the neighborhood. He’d saunter in and about his home in a white tank top, bermuda shorts and sandals like an old beachcomber in search of his beach, living a life in some sort of siesta-to-siesta limbo. Every now and then he’d climb atop his roof, peel back the tarp and hammer in a couple of shingles and then he was spent. He’d then pop inside for a can of cold beer and sit in a lawn chair parked in front of his yard and stare disapprovingly down the street. When Beau and his brother came home from school they were put to work immediately, usually mundane tasks, moving a pile of garbage from one side of the yard to another.

I didn’t like Mr. Anders. I didn’t like that he smelled of stale beer, cigarettes and Brut cologne. I didn’t like that he never seemed to comb his hair or trim around his nose or ears. I didn’t like that all of his teeth were different colors and faced different ways. I didn’t like that he called me Andrea or Kid. I didn’t like that I saw him slap his wife across her face through the kitchen window. I didn’t like that he’d pick up large sticks to regularly beat Beau and his brother. I didn’t like that he’d often violently kick their dog. Mr. Anders scared me and, stupid or not, I felt sorry for Beau.

When I was ten Beau and I had a chat about Star Wars over the fence. Mr. Anders wasn’t home and we were speculating about what might happen in Return of the Jedi. Was Darth Vadar really Luke’s father? I wasn’t convinced. Beau still hadn’t seen The Empire Strikes Back  and I felt it was my duty to instruct him as to who all the new characters were. I ran to fetch my small collection of action figures to aid in the instruction. With a pocket full of plastic Yodas, Boba Fetts, and Wookies  I climbed over the chain-link fence and into the tall grass of the Anders’ back yard. No one was home. Mr Anders was running an errand. Beau’s youngest brother was at an after school function. Mrs. Anders was still at work. Beau took me inside. It was the only time I’d been inside the Anders’ home. It was, much like the exterior, a disaster. The smell alone was pretty horrific. Beau’s room, however, was quite tidy and orderly. There were a few posters. Farrah Fawcett mostly. I loved the poster of her from Logan’s Run. Besides the posters there was a small bed, wood paneling and an orange, yellow and brown crocheted afghan. There were no toys. I thought that was odd but Beau didn’t really have a developed sense of play. Maybe it was because he was part of his disability. Maybe stupid kids are too dumb to play, I thought to myself.

I was showing Beau my action figures and had them laid out in sequence of importance across his bed when Mr. Anders entered the room. We hadn’t heard him pull up or enter the house and we both jumped a bit. He leaned in the doorway with his arms crossed across his chest. A cigarette hung from his lips with about an inch of ask threatening to fall at any moment. “Beau, you’ve got a guest,” he said nodding towards me. “Did you do your chores?” “Yes, sir,” Beau answered, his eyes pointed to the floor. “Have you had your bath?” asked Mr. Anders. “No, sir,” Beau replied. “Well, get to it,” commanded Mr. Anders. No sooner had he said this Beau was on his feet and removing his clothing. I started to gather my action figures and tried to slip out. Mr. Anders grabbed me firmly by the shoulder. “Were you in our backyard, kid?” asked Mr. Anders. “Yes, sir,” I replied. “There are a lot of bugs and chiggers back there. You’d better take a bath, too.” “I can take one when I get home,” I offered. “No. I think you and Beau should take a bath together,” said Mr. Anders authoritatively and led me down the hall to the dingy tiled bathroom where Beau was already sitting naked in the tub, warm water pouring in. “Well, don’t just stand there, kid. Strip,” said Mr. Anders flashing me his crooked teeth. I was shaking. This was wrong.  I didn’t know what to do so I slowly removed my clothes.

I won’t go into the details of what happened next. During the seventies there was a lack of awareness around child predators. There were no classes or instruction on “Good Touch/Bad Touch” or how to report such a crime. All I knew is that afterwards I felt dirty, shameful, and that if I told anyone I would no longer be deserving of their love. I stopped talking with Beau after that and couldn’t look Mr. Anders in the eye on Sunday or when he and dad would stop for a visit.

Years later in my twenties I took a job playing piano in an upscale restaurant in Baton Rouge. I ran into Beau in the parking lot. He was a valet living on his own. He looked exactly the same and still his eyes darted about when he spoke. He did something very strange, though. He hugged me, a long lingering hug.

A few months after that Beau committed suicide. All I know is that he called his father and during their conversation they began to argue and Beau shot himself in the head. Weeks after the funeral Mr. Anders stopped by my parent’s house. I was in the back by the pool and Mr. Anders sat down next to me with tears in his eyes and began to sorrowfully confess how much he missed his son. I stood up in disbelief, looked him in the eye and spit in his face.

Mr. Anders skipped town after that. Just picked up and left. It’s rumored he ran off with a younger woman. One without kids I hoped.

As far as Beau, he never had a chance. He wasn’t stupid, dumb or an idiot. He was the product of systematic abuse. He probably would’ve been a really nice guy if the opportunity to grow up hadn’t been taken from him along with his innocence, devoured by that monster he lived with, the monster he called “Sir.”

I’ve not written about this. I haven’t talked about it much either. Honestly, I feel a bit lighter now. A bit heavier, too.

Those of you with children should talk with them about the world out there. Don’t make it a scary place. Most of the time it isn’t. But make your child aware of what can, but shouldn’t, happen. Give them the power to say no, to scream, to tattle, to push away, to kick, to tell you, to tell another adult, to tell the authorities, to protect themselves.

Not the happiest story, I know, but it’s the least I could do for Beau.

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4 Responses to “Whisky Shots With Martha!- Bourbon Currant Cookies! -241 eggs, 182 1/2 cups of sugar, 185 sticks of Butter, and 231 1/2 cups of flour used so far- 33 recipes to go!”

  1. Nicole Says:

    I was a victim of him too. Never told anyone either.

  2. Cecilia Says:

    How horrible Andre, but you did try to be his friend. You are so right to tell parents to warn their kids of the many dangers out there. It is so different from when you and I grew up. I agree, do not make your kids paranoid, but make them strong, be there for them and most of all listen to what they say..or in some cases what they do not say.

    Good luck with the cookies and see you in October!!

  3. Thomas Pluck Says:

    Yet we still think of “stranger danger” when most of the time it’s someone we know. I’m glad that you confronted him as an adult for the monster he was.

  4. Eri Zeitz Says:

    You probably brought a small sense of normalcy and love into Beau’s life, that he never had. I’m outraged that you and he had to endure his father’s abuse.
    Amazing that it comes out in a cookie story.
    Thank you.


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