Everything But The Kitchen Sink, Martha!- Fruit & Nut Cookies! -285 eggs, 209 1/2 cups of sugar, 210 1/4 sticks of Butter, and 264 1/4 cups of flour used so far- 9 recipes to go!
January 27, 2013
If you are looking for a cookie with an impressive list of ingredients, then look no further than Martha’s Fruit & Nut Cookies. Flaked coconut, macadamia nuts, dried apricots, dates, and pistachios are the featured players in this sweet and simple drop cookie. They are dense and chewy and in spite of the extensive procurement of ingredients , they are a breeze to bake. The fruit and nuts are ground in a food processor and then combined with white and light brown sugar, flour, salt, butter, eggs, vanilla, and baking soda. They are then dropped onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet and flattened with the palm of your hand. Bake them at 350• for 12-15 minutes and… Voila! Cookies! Not just cookies, but delicious cookies! So, next time you’re looking to impress a group of friends with a sweet and unique cookie, give this one a try.
Lately it seems that every time I begin a post, I start off with an apology for my tardiness. 2012 was a difficult year. Between the wedding, the six-month job assignment, the changing of jobs, the remodeling, the weight loss, etc… I’ve run out of steam. I’ve been in a low-grade depression through most of the year but I’m doing what I can to pull myself out of it. Disciplining myself to write more will certainly help. Folks who read this blog have told me how much they enjoy my stories and hope that I get around to writing more of those and fewer essays. Being a people-pleaser, I will oblige.
As many of you know, I was briefly a clown in Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey’s Greatest Show on Earth®. Many years before my adventures under the big top I’d formed a circus all my own, fated to perform only once… and what a performance it was. It was the sweltering Summer of 1977. The red, white, and blue paint that adorned the fire hydrants on every street from the previous year’s bicentennial celebration had begun to crack, fade, and peel away. My sister, Nicole, was seven years old. I was nine. Each Summer, dad would whisk our mother away to some exotic location like Montréal, Orlando, or Louisville to attend his company’s Life Insurance convention/Bacchanal. This would require kenneling us with whichever relative would have us. This worked best when they’d separate me and my three younger sisters into more manageable groups of two.
My dad had a sister, Dottie who’d married a gentleman from Mexico named Trinidad- Uncle Trinnie. They had two daughters, Penny and Rhonda, who were slightly older than myself. A few years after our visit that Summer, Aunt Dottie gave birth to their third child, a son named Trinnie Jr.. They also had a pet skunk named Pepper. The skunk, of course, had it’s scent glands removed. The same could not be said for Uncle Trinnie. He had an Old Spice addiction. Aunt Dottie and Uncle Trinnie had just built their dream house only a few blocks away from their previous home in the New Orleans suburb of Metairie, Louisiana. They had a spacious corner lot protected by a brick and wrought-iron fence. The house had three bedrooms and three bathrooms with an entire corner of the home devoted to my Aunt Dottie’s in-house business- a real Southern-style beauty parlor and gossip den. On a side note, my Aunt Dottie cut and styled my and my sisters’ hair whenever we came to visit. Having developed curly hair in my adolescence, Dottie decided to tease it with a hair-pick until it reached maximum volume. I went through most of my pubescent years with a thick mound of frizz on my head that resembled Nancy from the comic strip bearing the same name. Thanks to my Aunt Dottie’s beauty skills and her utter lack of aesthetic, I was indeed, a “Nancy” boy. I am quite certain this was why I began to lose my hair at the age of sixteen. It fell out in protest.
Aunt Dottie and Uncle Trinnie welcomed my sister and me to their home. We set ourselves up in one of the bedrooms and played enthusiastically with the skunk, Pepper, until in thirty minutes time, we were bored out of our skulls. Penny would stop chatting on the phone with friends to check in on us from time-to-time. Rhonda and my sister would play dress-up, only stopping for me to critique the series of ensembles they’d change in five-minute intervals. Uncle Trinnie would be away at work and Dottie would be loudly cutting hair in the parlor. I sat there in the den listening to the drone of the television, the hum of the air conditioner, and the loud cackling of elderly women from Aunt Dottie’s house of beauty. In the face of two-weeks of utter boredom, I had an idea. The Muscular Dystrophy Association had been encouraging kids to put on backyard carnivals to help raise funds for the cause. This was before the fear of personal injury lawsuits put an end to having strangers over to your home.
The idea of a carnival didn’t seem like something I could really sink my teeth into, though. I found the notion a bit passé. We could, however, perform a backyard circus. Rhonda had an entire trunk filled with old dance recital costumes. Aunt Dottie had enough makeup and wigs for a busload of clowns, and for Christ’s sake, we had a freakin’ skunk! Brilliant!
I assembled Rhonda and my sister around me to relay the idea. They were inspired. A chance for them to wear heavy makeup, sequins and parade about in front of a paying and captive audience? Abso-freakin-lutely!
The show itself was promoted. Costume pieces were pulled out of every trunk and closet. Music was chosen, make-up applied, and tickets sold to every neighbor on the block who had the misfortune of being home that day.
In six hours we planned, marketed, and performed a circus complete with an exotic animal act. Truth be told, it wasn’t terrible and we raised nearly fifteen dollars for muscular dystrophy.
I’ve thought a lot about that Summer recently and years ago I co-wrote play about a group of kids putting on a circus in their backyard. It was called Circus Berzerkus.
I hadn’t seen Penny, Rhonda, Aunt Dottie, or Uncle Trinnie in many, many years until my most recent trip home. My sister, Nicole and I met up with Rhonda and Penny for a few drinks. Penny is a C.P.A. in her fifties with two grown boys of her own. She recently became a grandmother. One of her sons, Shane AKA- Suga Shane, a rising rap artist, with as many tattoos as there are naughty words in his lyrics, recently fathered an adorable little boy, who as of this moment, sports no tattoos or piercings.
Rhonda recently enjoyed her daughter’s marriage to the son and heir of the wealthy owners of the largest beer distribution company in the Southeast region. I was unable to attend the wedding which my sister described as “the most expensive and decadent wedding she’d ever attended.” Shortly after the wedding, Rhonda’s husband of twenty-five years had an intense and emotional mid-life crisis, leaving Rhonda and their teenage son so he could pursue the life of a brooding middle-aged bachelor. Needless to say, we drank quite a bit that evening.
A few days later, my sister and I went to visit Aunt Dottie and Uncle Trinnie. They still live in that same old house on a double corner lot in Metairie. The beauty parlor is still humming along and Dottie has seen to it that her hair remains unnaturally dark for a woman her age. Uncle Trinnie, still smells of Old Spice or English Leather. His hair still remains pulled back in a tight pompadour, however, Dottie has allowed it to gray a bit. He looks distinguished, not unlike the world’s most interesting man from the Dos Equis commercials.
Trinnie Jr. , now a dad in his thirties was, as per usual, in jail.
These visits did not improve my low-grade depression. In fact, they may have turned up the volume on my personal grief-o-meter. I felt older. I looked around me and the faces from my youth had grown grayer, pained, and weathered.
Am I really that much older now?
Do I have another circus in me?
Maybe I need a pet skunk.