December 13th, 2004


A recipe for the Holidays

I was trying to make lemon bars last night, and screwed up the crust recipe, so I improvised. To my surprise the results seemd to really please everyone in the household, including the dogs. Those dogs are going to die early from all the treats they get. Anyway


2 Cups White Flour
2 Cups Sugar
1 Cup Chopped English Walnuts
2 Eggs
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
2/3 cup butter

Soften the butter. Putting the butter in the microwave oven on 'Defrost' for a minute seems to work for me. Add eggs, and beat to a slurry with either a wire whisk or electric mixer.

Add flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Mix as well as you can manage. It comes out kind of like pie dough, sort of crumbly. Chop walnuts as fine as you have the patience for, and add to the dough.

Dump dough into a 9x13 baking pan, preferably Pyrex. Press into a flat, even layer.

Bake at 350 degrees, 15 minutes or so. They're done when its nicely browned on top. Remove from oven and let cool.

Cut into cookie-sized bars. They don't hold together real well, but do the best you can. The results are really interesting -- crunchy and flaky on the top and bottom, and chewy in the middle.

And yes, I ate butter last night, for those who care about my vegetarianism. It tastes great! I think if I avoid butter for the most part I'll be fine, and besides, it's not clear to me whether you live a longer life by eating an exclusively healthy diet, or if it just seems that way.

A linguistic observation

In my last post, I initially wrote "Shit tastes good!" which I changed to "It tastes great!" which leaves me pondering all the things in my speech I've picked up from black english. "Shit" in addition to its primary meaning, picks up a whole new dimension in Black English, where it becomes a general purpose replacement for "It" or "That."

Now obviously shit does not taste good, but in the right context (i.e. not in a live journal entry about walnut bars), the meaning is immediately clear to whomever is addressed. Other profane substitutions in black english include "motherfuckers" as in "Motherfuckers best step off!"

I know that white people trying to talk black sound pretty silly a lot of the time, but lots of black idiom gets appropriated nonetheless. Even my wife Melissa, has taken to saying "I feel that," and "I'm down" from Sean and I.

The attractions of black speech to everyone (or most everyone, Bill Cosby is not, as they say, down) is inescapable. There is a conciseness and idiomatic punch to it. It discards superfluous syntactic sugar in favor of rhythmic integrity. And it encompasses both directness and lateral thinking. A black guy in my old neighborhood in Cedar Rapids, once told me "you been sleepin overtime" in reaction to something ridiculous I'd said, meaning I'd been dreaming too much, believing in fantasies.

In other words, visions of sugarplums danced in my head.