Sharing the Salted Spoon

Buttermilk cupcakes - yum!

Buttermilk cupcakes – yum!

One of the absolute coolest things about being a writer is linking up with other writers and seeing them succeed. That may seem very Pollyanna of me, but it’s true:  I love celebrating my friends’ achievements, and I’m more than happy to toot their horns for them.

You’ll remember my friend Redd from Salted Spoon; she was a guest blogger for the 12 Days of Cookies, and she shared with us her snickerdoodle recipe. Redd has been blogging for a little over a year, and she has released her first eBook, a collection of her best recipes from her first year of blogging.

Redd put out a call on Facebook several months ago, asking friends if they would mind testing recipes for her. I had no idea what they were for, but I jumped at the opportunity and picked a few recipes to test for her. Hands down, my favorite was for Buttermilk Cupcakes with Orange Zest and Chocolate Ganache. I mean, who on God’s green earth doesn’t love ganache? Right? These cupcakes are moist, with just a hint of sweet tang, and the ganache is bittersweet and rich. I added a teaspoon of sugar to sweeten it up, but it’s lovely as is. Continue reading

12 Days of Cookies: Day Twelve

Several weeks ago, I wrote about how I discovered that I had lost all of my “special” ornaments – not the filler ones, the glass balls and glittery snowflakes. The special ones. The Norfolk mermaid. The Hershey’s bar. The whisk. The ones that say, hey, I represent Dana this year.

Mermaid from a gift shop in Norfolk, where mermaids are kind of a big deal. Bought during my first year living in Norfolk.

Mermaid from a gift shop in Norfolk, where mermaids are kind of a big deal. Bought during my first year living in Norfolk.

My friend (and former roommate) Andrea was rifling around, looking for Christmas lights to make a book tree with, and she stumbled upon a bag of ornaments she didn’t recognize. Oh yeah. My ornaments, mixed in with hers. She returned them to me at lunch one day, and that afternoon, I carefully put them on the tree, happy to have them back.

It’s amazing the meaning we attach to small things this time of year, the ways that those small things symbolize so much. Last night, Amanda and I watched Miracle on 34th Street, the version I grew up with, starring Mara Wilson and Elizabeth Perkins. Kris Kringle repeatedly describes himself as a symbol, one that has meaning and value, one that people believe in not for material gain or obligation, but because of what it represents:  cheer, joy, peace, goodness.

When I was teaching literature this semester, my students would get hung up on symbols. How do we know, they would ask, when something is a symbol and not just an arbitrary detail? When does it cross over?

My answer was that it becomes a symbol when it matters enough to be considered one. I told them to look for repetition and weight – what does it mean to the story?

My new ornament this year:  two birds.

My new ornament this year: two birds.

When I look at my own life, I notice certain symbols. Birds, for instance, which I’ve written about before. The ornaments symbolize so much more than just decorations. They’re symbolic of my past, my family, my traditions. They’re special because of that.

I think recipes become that way too. They are the flavors we associate with this time of year:  sweetness and savory and salty and buttery. We can take comfort in those flavors because they’re not just cookies:  they’re us. They’re how we grew up and where we come from. They’re family and tradition and comfort. They’re the compilation of moments when we licked beaters and rolled cookie dough and waited for cookies to come out of the oven. They’re aprons that were too big for us when we were children, the ones that fit just right now. They’re the benches we stood on to see over the counter. They’re the last minute phone calls to mothers and fathers and grandmothers to double check details of a recipe. Continue reading

12 Days of Cookies: Day Nine

Remember yesterday when I said that new bloggers should really get out there and read as many blogs as they can? During my campaign to start reading as many bloggers as I could find, particularly of the food ilk, I stumbled upon a periodic table, Shannon’s fantastic food blog. Shannon’s recipes and photos are lovely, lovely, lovely, and Shannon is a fun blogger to follow because of her vibrant personality and sense of humor. Seriously. You should go follow her on Facebook right now before you forget. 

Shannon emailed me yesterday to profusely apologize for getting her recipe and blog post to me last minute (ahem, a full 24 hours before the post went live, no big deal), and shared with me her colossally busy week thus far. I advised her to put her feet up and relax. And with the recipe she is sharing, I sort of believe she took my advice. (I hope!)

Lemon Poppyseed Ginger Biscotti

Post by Shannon Weber

Candied ginger, y'all. Want! | Photo by Shannon Weber

Candied ginger, y’all. Want! | Photo by Shannon Weber

You know what we all need right now? A nap, most likely. Maybe a little pre-holiday pep talk. I don’t know about you, but this week turned into Rush Week for me. No, I’m not pledging a sorority (heaven help us all, can you imagine?); “Rush Week” for me is that week that all the pre-holiday preparations culminate into one big, fat to-do list you must have completed by the end of the week. I usually have at least one breakdown during the week where I throw something at something else and refuse to finish.

Five minutes later, I recover and am back to it.

I am nearing the end of my rush week; cookie trays are made and distributed, my gingerbread house submission for Movita Beaucoup’s Ginger 2012 competition is done and being judged as I write this, and I am cleaning my house and wrapping presents in anticipation of my winter guests, who will be here in two days. I need a little bit of peace, and a little bit of recovery. We all do.

The first thing that comes to my mind when I need a little life time-out? Tea. Lemons. Ginger. A little snap, a little tart, a little heat – that’s all it takes to refocus and rejuvenate me. There’s something about those flavors that seem so soothing, especially this time of year. Since I am Dana’s “9th day of cookie” today, I wanted to share a treat which would be stress-free; a biscotti that’s easy to make, will make your kitchen smell lemon-heavenly, and would be perfect with a hot cup of tea. Continue reading

The 12 Days of Cookies: Day Two

My first guest blogger for The 12 Days of Cookies party is Redd, the writer of the blog Salted Spoon. I met Redd at our college just south of Atlanta, Georgia; my first memory of her, though she wouldn’t have known who I was at the time, was when I saw her coming through the doors of the Arts & Sciences building. The only red-headed Brit at our school, I recognized her as one of the Freshman Orientation Leaders I had encountered during my orientation. She was wearing some pretty rocking heels and wiped out. (She may not remember this, and she also may shake me for sharing this story. Whatev.) She didn’t look embarrassed as people helped her up but rather maintained her class and composure. She merely said in her always delightful accent, “That’ll teach me to wear three-inch heels!”

I got to know Redd a bit more through English classes and the Theatre program, but it wasn’t until several years after college, when we discovered we were both food bloggers, writing on opposite sides of the country, that we really began to strike up a friendship. Her blog, Salted Spoon, is based on her efforts to nail down some sort of culinary heritage for herself, and her recipes are completely wonderful; I have made several of them, and I always enjoy them.  

Snickers and Doodles and Sound

From Salted Spoon

Snickerdoodle balls | Pic by Redd Horrocks

I love my job. There are a lot of cool things about it. I get to work with very talented people who do very impressive things and I get to be hidden and invisible while I do it. Seriously. I wear all black. I’m like a ninja, but instead of throwing stars I have a pen and a flashlight.

One of the neat perks of my job is that on an occasional week (one in five, give or take) I get to see what other departments are doing. I work on a big big show and our sound department is particularly epic and well-equipped. We have the largest indoor sound system in the world, so they are also quite busy. The other day I got to watch the show with them and see what they do and learn lots of neat things. As payment for me imposing, I promised them cupcakes. I had plans. I was going to make my new favorite cupcakes, which are dark and chocolatey and gorgeous. When I got home though, I discovered that a sneaky evil redheaded beast had stolen all the chocolate for de-stressing consumption (that would have been me). So I had to come up with a backup plan. Continue reading

Out of Office Reply

Thank you for visiting Whisks & Words. I will be out of the office for the remainder of the day as the Southern Living Christmas issue arrived yesterday and it’s vital that I read each and every page, salivate over recipes, pine after kitchen designs, dog-ear pages, and learn how to make a decorative wreath out of fresh herbs.

Business as usual shall resume tomorrow.

The arrival of the Southern Living Christmas Issue = a holiday in itself.

This post is part of NaBloPoMo, National Blog Posting Month. Check out other great posts at BlogHer and yeah write.