Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Flurry of Baking and more

Last year, I bought this book and decided to try each recipe in turn until I had baked them all.
Well, so much for my intentions.  By years end I had only tried one recipe. It wasn't that it was difficult, I just don't have a lot of time for all the things I love to do.

So, here in December again, I went into another characteristic flurry.  I intended to go for three recipes all together, but with the coconut cake added in, it wasn't really possible in one day.

Ciambelle with anise seeds

These are crunchy, meant to be enjoyed with sparkling wine, but I like them with coffee too.

Pine nut cookies.  These went too fast to photo the finished product!

I loved cracking the coconut (with help of the hand model!) and grating it and working up icing in a double boiler.  I also loved filtering the wine out of the anise seeds and rolling the cookie dough into delicate little snakes for the ciambelle.  These are time consuming, but I so love the process, the tactile surprise of the way these raw components come together.
Crochet work is like this too, or writing--though then it's in the imaginative, or perhaps metaphysical world.  But all of these are essentially creative spheres where the mind is dually occupied--on one side by recipes or patterns or the concrete rules of punctuation and grammar--but then also on the larger, deeper, more abstract side which is fulfilling in the way that you can find yourself moving on autopilot, so that the "rules" are part of you so much so that the moment you are living in is art itself.
I think it was George Balanchine who said "Discipline makes you free," which I used to puzzle over as a younger person.  Though once I had experienced it, practiced to the point at which I was dancing without thinking steps but was within the music, I knew what it was to soar, to be free, to be experiencing art.
Once I had a student who said if he had three wishes one would be not to need to sleep.  I would wish this too.  Think of the things one could accomplish!  Not all the have to's of life, but the want to's!  So many things I'd like to try, to perfect, to have time to find the sweet spot, to lose myself in that other realm.


  1. I have always wanted to work my way through a recipe book well done you! Xxx

  2. There were so many projects on my wish list for christmas presents, but alas yes the need to sleep seems so unnecessary when there is creativity brewing... I too wish I didnt need to sleep. But accomplished what I could and tried not to stress. Now the that holidays are I am lurking the shelves in yarn stores and patterns for what else but to feed my brain to give that "free" feeling you speak of.
    Bravo for you conquering those baking goodies... they all look yummy . The joy in all is warm gooey good part.

  3. What a fascinating post - I love that quote from George Balanchine, and the way you describe the "other realm".

    These look like wonderful recipes - especially those pine nut cookies. I have a cookbook called "The Italian Baker" that I would love to bake through sometime. Perhaps if I give up sleep.... :)

    P.S. Dorothy L. Sayers has some interesting ideas on creativity, written from a theological perspective.