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koekjes

While reading the Trader Joe’s Culinary Compendium (a delight in and of itself — see below) that arrived in the post last week, it contained this delicious tidbit, amongst others:

Early ovens didn’t have thermostats, hence the cookie. Back in 7th Century Persia, cakes were all the rage and cooking them required just the right oven temperature. With no needles, dials or digits as indicators, cooks would place “little cakes” in the oven as testers. Eventually, these sweet oven gauges became a prize on their own.

It goes on to add that the word cookie is actually a derivative of the Dutch koekje (-je being the singular diminuitive).   All of this is, by the way, particularly entertaining because I only recently (in the last year or so) discovered (courtesy of M.) the concept of test cookies:

test cookie

Cue shot of infinite mirrors?  Though, I have to say, I’ve also made little test cakes recently as well, but being that I am in possession of  such kitchen paraphernalia as needles, dials and digits, they turn out fine and end up not as cookies but simply as itty bitty cakes. (Which then spawned the succession of itty bitty triple-layer cakes…)

Anyways, the Compendium:

culinary-compedium

food & people

This afternoon, I was opening up cans and cans of fruits & vegetables and thinking that it was pretty nice that I didn’t have to eat any of it.  (Except the canned corn, which I like.)  It was my first time working in a kitchen since UNILU, what with the shifts at Open Heart Kitchen all overlapping with business hours — it’s been awhile.

Aside from the gorgeousness of the day and hungry people being fed, two things really struck me in their delicate sweetness.  One was the quiet way a few men and women would dress things up in just the smallest, simplest of ways: they would come to the counter and ask, “Well, what do you all have today?”–not unlike the way one would ask for the day’s specials at a favorite cafe.  Today was lemon chicken with noodles.  They’d ponder it for a moment before saying, with a smile, “Well, that sounds good to me!”

The other was this little girl, Lani. She couldn’t have been more than eight or nine years old. She snuck in at around four, and the regulars knew her and, after re-familiarizing her with the tally system, put her to work tallying how many meals we gave out.  She was quiet, earnest, wide-eyed and so far beyond her years in how she would make herself useful as much as she could.  Midway through serving, one of the women made a plate up for her and sat outside with her amongst some of the other guests to eat it.  Later on, she even tried to vacuum, using a machine that was nearly her height.  When we were just about done cleaning up and I was serving some of the last stragglers, she very quietly asked me if she could please also have some food for her daddy.  I packed two plates and watched her take them outside to a man who was waiting to pick her up, before she came back in and kept volunteering for more work until we were ready to leave.   She was amazing.

dusty corners

Cleaning out my desk today, I came upon a stack of poems printed on loose sheets that had slipped under the paper I used to line a drawer.  They aren’t old favorites, so I feel like I’m discovering them again for the first time.  Here’s one of the more delightful.

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the more loving one

I don’t know what it is about this poem that strikes me — I’m not even sure I particularly agree with it. But something about it rings such a beautiful note. And — truth and beauty, right, Keats?

THE MORE LOVING ONE
by W.H. Auden 

Looking up at the stars, I know quite well
That, for all they care, I can go to hell,
But on earth indifference is the least
We have to dread from man or beast.

How should we like it were stars to burn
With a passion for us we could not return?
If equal affection cannot be,
Let the more loving one be me.

Admirer as I think I am
Of stars that do not give a damn,
I cannot, now I see them, say
I missed one terribly all day.

Were all stars to disappear or die,
I should learn to look at an empty sky
And feel its total dark sublime,
Though this might take me a little time.

extremely realistic sound

A friend passed on this charming commercial made for Loewe.  Pretty impressive, especially considering that it comes amidst all  these  incredibly  delightful animated shorts I’ve been watching.

who’dathunk…

A writer is not so much someone who has something to say as he is someone who has found a process that will bring about new things he would not have thought of if he had not started to say them. — William Stafford, A Way of Writing.

Found this lovely bit while searching my archives for some other snippet — it echoes the same sentiments as the example with artists and colors, which I once worked into a statement d’artiste for Sam Witt.

city//garden

Came across this while reading this morning…

The great city, then, could not be understood as an artifact of human choice. It was much closer to a natural, organic process — less like a building that has been deliberately constructed and more like a garden erupting into full bloom with the arrival of spring — a mix of human planning and the natural developmental patterns that emerge with increasing energy supplies. — Steven Johnson