July 21, 2010

Sometimes, you just need to rewrite.

"Paris Review: How much rewriting do you do?

Ernest Hemingway: It depends. I rewrote the ending to Farewell to Arms, the last page of it, thirty-nine times before I was satisfied.

PR: Was there some technical problem there? What was it that had stumped you?

EH: Getting the words right."
--The Paris Review Interviews, Vol. 1

So it didn't quite take thirty-nine times, but I think I've rewritten my I Can't Believe It's No-Butter Snickerdoodles to great success. They were pretty tasty before — crunchy yet addicting, like dessert potato chips — but I always knew I was capable of baking a better snickerdoodle.

The gustatory perfection of this rewrite may not be as impressive as "getting the words right" a la Hemingway, but hey, at least I get to eat the fruits (or cookies) of my labor.

A Rewritten Chewy Snickerdoodle Recipe
1 1/4 cups flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
Scant 1/2 cup oil (or melted butter, if you prefer)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
dash of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Mix all ingredients together until combined. In a shallow dish, sprinkle a few shakes of cinnamon into about 2 tablespoons granulated sugar. Mix with your fingers.

Form the cookie dough into tablespoon-size balls and roll in the sugar/cinnamon mixture. Place the cookies on a foil-lined cookie sheet. Flatten slightly.

Bake 6-7 minutes (do not overbake unless you like crispy cookies). In fact, you should probably remove the cookies from the hot baking pan and let them cool elsewhere, just to make sure they don't overbake. Devour and share to your heart's content.

July 13, 2010

A lot to say, period.

"From it, from the palm of her hand against the palm of his, from their fingers locked together, and from her wrist across his wrist to his that was as fresh as the first light air that moving toward you over the sea barely wrinkles the glassy surface of a calm, as light as a feather moved across one's lip, or a leaf falling when there is no breeze; so light that it could be felt with the touch of their fingers alone, but that was so strengthened, so intensified, and made so urgent, so aching and so strong by the hard pressure of their fingers and the close pressed palm and wrist, that it was as though a current moved up his arm and filled his whole body with an aching hollowness of wanting."
--For Whom the Bell Tolls, Ernest Hemingway
Be still, my heart. One sentence. Did you notice? Props to any writer who can compose sentences of considerable length that retain – nay, elevate – one's attention from beginning to end. Milton set the bar high with the epic, 26-liner opening sentence of Paradise Lost. Lengthy, eloquent sentences give me the warm fuzzies.

July 11, 2010

A cherry weird coincidence.

He sat down, tugging at a white-paper package in the tail pocket of his coat.

"Cherries," he said, nodding and smiling. "There is nothing like cherries for producing free saliva after trombone playing, especially after Grieg's 'Iche Liebe Dich.' Those sustained blasts on 'liebe' make my throat as dry as a railway tunnel. Have some?" He shook the bag at me.

"I prefer watching you eat them."
--"The Modern Soul," Katherine Mansfield

True story: I was doing a bit of late-night cherry hopping – first, binging on Bing cherries (ha), then, a few coveted Rainier cherries. Happily basking in after-cherry glow, I started reading a short story – and not three paragraphs into it, someone begins spouting off about cherries to great length. What a coincidence. Unfortunately, he informs the narrator that "All cherries contain worms." Not exactly the information you want to absorb after consuming a bunch of Bing and Rainier cherries.

Curiosity led me to stumble, Googley-eyed, upon a VERY disturbing message thread...click here at your own risk.

Ah, well, worm-ridden or not, they were tasty little fellas. Can't very well blame worms for wanting in on this delectable flesh.

July 5, 2010

Breakfast, grilled and toasted

"Have you got nothing else for my breakfast, Pritchard?" said Fred, to the servant who brought in coffee and buttered toast; while he walked round the table surveying the ham, potted beef, and other cold remnants, with an air of silent rejection, and polite forbearance from signs of disgust.

"Should you like eggs, sir?"

"Eggs, no! Bring me a grilled bone."
--George Eliot, Middlemarch
Fred has got it made. Demanding a grilled bone first thing in the morning? Luxurious. I would be happy with eggs or even just some buttered toast.

Toast is a funny thing: It always tastes better when you had no hand in making it. Someday, maybe I'll write a book, working title: Toast Not of One's Own. For exactly one year, I'll go to every breakfast establishment and order a side of toast. It will be magical – The Year of Magical Toast? Will it be more of a Virginia Woolf or a Joan Didion? Guess we'll see what the toast has to say about that.