Almond cake with blackcurrants, cherries and bittersweet chocolate

Almond cake with cherries, black currants and bittersweet chocolate

Almond cake with cherries, black currants and bittersweet chocolate

We’re watching L’eclisse at the moment, so today I’m going to wander around town in low-heeled but surprisingly noisy shoes, looking serious and wistful but bursting into laughter at life’s absurdities. Also, it’s my birthday, so I’m going to claim birthday privilege and write the most nonsensical rambling post ever. First of all, here’s a scene from L’eclisse that I like a lot. We haven’t watched the whole film so I’ll reserve judgement, but this scene I found surprising and beautiful.

Second of all, let me tell you about my lunch. I’m very excited about it. It was: a saltine cracker topped with brie, avocado, tomato, castelvetrano olives and lots of black pepper. I don’t usually eat lunch, but I’d been thinking about brie and avocado for a while now, and I had to try it. Everything tastes good on a saltine cracker.

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Finally, I’ll admit that this birthday is a hard one. 45. The only good thing you can say about turning 45 is that it’s better than not turning 45. For some irrational reason, birthdays ending in five or zero are harder than any other birthdays. So I’ve been in a blue mood all week. And then one evening after dinner the boys and I walked to the store to buy ice cream novelties. I was feeling heavy and tired and discouraged. We walked through a big open space in town, and Malcolm said, “Mom! Sky Dive!!” He grabbed my hand and flung his other arm out. Slowly, I caught on, and stretched my arm out, and then he took Isaac’s hand and Isaac stretched his arm out. We were flying and buoyant and weightless in the sweet air of a perfect June evening. And I feel alright, I feel grateful for all of it, for everything.

Almond cake with blackcurrants, cherries and bittersweet chocolate

Almond cake with blackcurrants, cherries and bittersweet chocolate

Our blackcurrant bush is bonkers. Full of fruit. You pick a bowlful in the morning, and it’s completely laden again in the evening. The berries seem to ripen as you pick them. So I boiled them for a long time with lots of sugar, and then pressed them through a sieve and ended up with a thick beautiful sauce. I added this to a custard one night and made ice cream. And yesterday I made a cake. I made a soft almond cake, and put a layer of blackcurrant sauce, fresh bing cherries and bittersweet chocolate chips. The whole thing is tart/sweet/soft and juicy. You have to eat it with a fork, though, cause it’s delightfully messy.

Here’s Nina Simone’s Feeling Good. Sounds like a June day, doesn’t it?
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Chocolate chocolate chip cake with white chocolate-mint ganache

Chocolate chocolate chip cake with white chocolate-mint ganache

Chocolate chocolate chip cake with white chocolate-mint ganache

I worked this weekend, like I work most weekends. I can’t complain because I only work two days a week. Most of the time I like waiting tables, for reasons I’ve talked about plenty here at The Ordinary. Mostly, it’s because, although I’m dubious sometimes about the goodwill of humanity as a whole, I like people, much of the time. Sometimes I feel good about my job, I approach it with great cheerfulness, I want to keep busy and turn lots of tables. Lately I’ve been in a slump. I suppose this happens to everyone, no matter what their job. I’ve been doing it too long. It’s gotten to the point where my heart sinks a little every time the door opens and new customers walk in. It will pass, I know it will, but that’s how I’ve been feeling lately. Yesterday was supposed to be warm and sunny (they promised!) but instead it was spitting grey and cold. Which means we weren’t very busy, and the day passed in a slow sort of blur, and I did my best to be friendly to everybody, but I was feeling a little grey myself. And then around 3:30 the sun came out. The door opened, and my heart didn’t sink at all, because in walked Malcolm, and I thought I’d never seen anything so bright and beautiful. He wore a bright green shirt, and bright green-and-yellow sneakers, and his green eyes were bright. He wore a purple backpack, and it didn’t have anything in it but lemon drops. I was all done taking tables, so we sat outside on a wall in sunshine that felt almost bewildering, after all the rain. The glad trees around us were suddenly vivid, vibrant, spring green. I drank out of a bright green cup, and I had lemons and limes in my water. Malcolm dropped a lemon drop in my cup, so sweet and tart. And we just sat in the sunshine, in a bright green-gold world, not talking at all. It felt like waking up.

The secret to this cake is that it has a melted easter bunny on top. We bought Malcolm a white chocolate mint easter bunny, because he doesn’t really like chocolate, but he wasn’t too crazy about this, either. If you don’t happen to have a leftover white chocolate mint easter bunny, you can melt white chocolate and add a drop of peppermint essence. If you like, you could add a drop of peppermint essence to the cake itself as well.

Here’s Tom Waits with You Can Never Hold Back Spring

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Flourless hazelnut walnut mocha torte

Flourless hazelnut walnut mocha torte

Flourless hazelnut walnut mocha torte

Today is, once again, take your child to work day. David usually takes one or both boys up to his shop, but his job is too stressful and his deadline too close at the moment. So they’re spending the day with me. I had very mixed feelings about this, I must say, which made me more than usually cranky from the very beginning. I knew they’d think of it as a day off, a day to stay home and watch cartoons and play video games and chase each other around the house yelling and eating never-ending easter candy. Because, obviously, that’s what I do all day while they’re at school. I woke them up at seven, like I usually do, and I made them help me pack lunches and make breakfast. We went for a walk, because part of my job is taking Isaac to school. I usually go for a jog after they’re in school, so we tried to do that, and I apologize to anybody whose house backs on to the towpath. I realize you probably didn’t want to awoken by a small boy yelling “SLOW DOWN I’M GOING TO PUKE! DO YOU WANT ME TO PUKE?” And then, sigh, we did laundry we dusted and vacuumed and washed dishes, and I thought how incredibly tedious my day must seem. We got all the cleaning done in the morning, like I always try to do, and then they instantly made a complete mess of everything again, and I announced that I was going to write for the rest of the day so they had to as well. And how is writing “work”? How do I justify this way to spend the day? Sometimes I get paid for it, and I do have a job and a deadline at the moment, although I’m fairly successfully ignoring it. But mostly I don’t. Mostly I’m writing this novel, and I’m completely obsessed with it, and it feels incredibly important to me, despite being frequently confounding and disappointing. I lie awake thinking about it, the characters are living in my head, and if I don’t write it down I’ll lose it all. But that doesn’t make it “work.” That makes me crazy. I see that, but most of the time I don’t acknowledge that fact. As long as nobody is watching me and saying, “Why do you get to sit at the computer if we don’t get to play video games?” (and I honestly can’t say that my novel-writing is any more important than their video game-playing), as long as nobody is watching, I’m okay. But what kind of life is it, if you can’t look at it from the outside without everything falling apart? If you can’t justify your existence if you stop to think about it for a minute? The unexamined life may not be worth living, but the examined life sometimes doesn’t hold up to all the questions. Of course it all boils down to money. If I was getting paid to write a novel, as many people are, then it would be work, then it would be justifiable and even admirable. But I’m not and probably will never be, if my past history of creative success is anything to go on. And yet, perversely, I want my boys to see that I write and that I read, and that both pursuits have great value for me. I want to see them write. I want them to grow up to write stories, and to think of it as work, even if they don’t get paid for it. I want them to know how good it feels to create something you feel happy about, even if you know the next time you look at it you’ll wonder what the hell you were thinking when you made it. I want their values to be as skewed as mine, so that creating something that they need to create becomes more important than making money, although of course I want them to be financially secure as well. I want them to work hard at something, with passion, and know the great pleasure of completing something that has taken great time and energy and thought. I want them to feel good about their life, even when events make them look at it from the outside, with questions and judgement. Malcolm wrote, of today, “The day with mom was fun cause we took walks and I also figured out what her life is like.” He figured out what my life is like! Now if I could only do the same!

Flourless hazelnut, walnut mocha torte

Flourless hazelnut, walnut mocha torte

There was some discussion, last week on The Guardian’s website, of a coffee walnut cake. One commenter mentioned a cake he or she remembered from their youth, flourless, with coffee and walnuts and hazelnuts. It seemed like a pleasant challenge to try to recreate a recipe based on this small amount of information, so I did. And I think it turned out very good! This is one of the best flourless cakes that I’ve made, light but substantial, with a lovely flavor.

Here’s REM with Finest Worksong

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Toasted almond shortbread cake

Toasted almond shortbread cake

Toasted almond shortbread cake

There’s a crow in my backyard making the strangest noises: throaty, urgent, with just an edge of rudeness. They’ve been all around my house all day, these crows, calling to each other, calling to me, trying to tell me something. It’s not just what they’re saying, either, it’s the way they fly as well, it feels studied, with a pattern and a purpose. It’s quite dramatic and beautiful. And it’s all around my house, circling my world. Of course, once I ventured outside of my house, beyond my block, I realize that they’re all over town behaving strangely, these crows. It’s spring, they’re in a tizzy. But as long as I’m sitting in my own home, searching for meaning everywhere, it feels as thought they’re speaking just to me. I passed a man on the way to school today who was talking to some friends in a truck idling in front of his house. He said that every morning, when he steps onto his porch, he sees the vulture who is nesting in the abandoned house next door, and the vulture is staring down at him, watching his every move. It doesn’t bode well for his day, he fears. I’ve been studying the calls and flight patterns of birds, lately, because I’m applying for an exciting new job. I want to be an augur. It’s a stressful job, I know, with a lot of responsibility, but I feel up for the task. My duties, as an augur, will involve studying the flight paths of birds, listening to how they sing or call, identifying patterns and directions, determining the kind of bird, and whether it flies in a group or alone. If a flock of birds takes into the air all at once, in a confusion of movement, in certain waves, with small sure speed, like an explosion of fireworks, I will know what this means. If a lone bird soars far above the clouds in great lazy circles, I will understand what that bird is telling me, because I will take the auspices. I will decide what is auspicious. Of course the job of an augur is not to determine the future, but to decide if a path already begun upon is the right path to take, if a plan of action is pleasing to the gods. And the gods show us this on the wings of birds, the delicate, powerful, inexplicable, beautiful wings of birds. And this is where I think I would shine as an augur. Because I always think birds are beautiful, I love all of their calls and songs, I love the birds with dusky feathers as well as those with jewel-like plumage. I admire vultures and revere crows, practically anything a bird can do seems like a happy portent to me, except maybe flying into a window. So if you want some good news, you want to feel hopeful about a project you’ve started or a journey you’re taking, come to me. I will read your auspices, I will watch the birds busy in you back yard, feeding in your garden or floating dreamily high above your house, and I will find encouraging signs there.

Toasted almond shortbread cake

Toasted almond shortbread cake

This cake was inspired by memories of a good humor toasted almond bar. It has a simple, shortbread like base, with chocolate chips, of course! And it’s topped with a crunchy almond crumb.

Here’s Flying Birds by the RZA

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Pecan & coconut brownies

Coconut pecan brownies

Coconut pecan brownies

There’s an ad I’ve been seeing a lot lately, when I try to watch my shows on the computer. It promises an “all new more everything plan,” and it’s only a slight exaggeration to say that it has me teetering on the thin line between amusement and despair. First of all, do we really need to reinforce the image of Americans as inarticulate greedy toddlers? MORE MORE MORE NEW NEW NEW!! No, we don’t, we truly don’t. Second of all, thank you once again, marketing-Americans for reducing words to a state of flaccid meaninglessness. It’s like a drug, it started with fairly mild words, “wholesome” or “goodness,” words that most actual people don’t actually use very often and that never had that much vitality. But our tolerance for those words grew to the point that we don’t even notice them anymore, it’s like we didn’t even hear them. So it spread to words that once had some power and complexity, “awesome,” “extreme,” even “power” itself. And now those have about as much flavor as gum that’s been chewed up, spit out, and stuck to the bottom of somebody’s shoe for a few weeks. So it’s on to the really big words. What’s bigger than everything? And this is the idea that keeps going around and around in my head. Everything? Really? More everything? More money, more sunshine, more inspiration, more creativity, more good-will, more intelligence, more patience, more ice cream cones, more cool non-leather shoes, more homes for stray dogs, more empathy for everyone in the world? And then, the next logical question…more everything? Are you sure? More poverty, more rain, more earthquakes, more misunderstanding, more tetanus shots, more rotten raspberries in a bowl that looked so perfect, more war, more hatred, more chaos, more ignorance, more cruelty? More of all of that? And more nothing? Because that’s part of everything, too, isn’t it? Anything, something, nothing, it’s all part of everything. Does this all-new plan offer a glimpse into the abyss? Because I’m not sure I’m ready for that. I’m not ready for all being and nothingness. So be careful what you sign up for, read the fine print, and ask yourself if you’re prepared to take on the extreme awesome power of the all new everything plan.

Coconut pecan brownies

Coconut pecan brownies

Speaking of everything, these wholesomely delicious brownies have it all! They’re soft and flavorful with a crispy top. They have a nice texture because of the coconut and pecans, which are both ground up so that they’re surprising but recognizable.

Here’s The Ramones with I Wanted Everything.

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Salty caramel almond, hazelnut, chocolate chip blondies

Salty caramel chocolate chip bars

Salty caramel chocolate chip bars

We’re experimenting with a “screen-free Sunday.” No TV, no computer, no video games. I’d imagined it would be something like the scene from the Simpsons: all the children of Springfield stop watching television and they all venture outside into the fresh air and sunshine to the tune of Beethoven’s pastoral symphony. It hasn’t been like that. I thought the boys would actually be excited about this plan, because they like camping and they like when the power goes out. They like roughing it. They have so much creativity and imagination it’s bursting out of them, they don’t need TV! But they like TV, and we find them sneakily watching cartoons or claiming that Malcolm’s nook doesn’t count as a screen. So by noon on a Sunday you’ll find me shouting at them that their brains are going to rot, or perhaps have already rotted. That they have INNER RESOURCES, dammit, and they need to use them. I tell them that when I was little we almost never watched TV, we didn’t even want to and we had so much fun, we had so many adventures and created whole worlds. And then Malcolm says, “Yeah, but you had a brother who liked to go outside,” and complaints of Isaac’s proclivity for sitting in his pajamas besides a warm radiator resurface. But I think it’s going to be good for all of us in the long run. One Sunday the boys were slouching about listlessly and moodily one moment, staring at the dark TV, and when I looked back over at them they were playing chess. And the next moment they were playing some complicated game they’d invented involving chess pieces and pieces from some entirely different game. I’m at work all day most Sundays, and when I’ve come home the last few weeks, the house has been an extremely messy testament to the wildness of their imaginations, once let loose from the dulling shackles of the TV. Giant blanket forts, creatures cut out of paper, a crown–with a strap on it–fashioned for poor long-suffering Clio. Drawings that tell stories. Odd science experiments. Crazy and wonderful robots and whole upside-down cities made out of legos. It’s strange to think about how much of our time the computer and television eat away at (and we don’t even get any reception on our television!) A lamentable waste of our precious swiftly-pasing moments. Yesterday Malcolm said he couldn’t relax without watching television, and that made me sad. He should be able to just do nothing. He should be able to just stare into space and think his thoughts. He should be able to go for long car rides or sit around waiting for something to start, and follow his mind wherever it takes him. Yesterday Malcolm also told me that one of these screen-free Sundays will be a rainy day, it will be pouring down rain outside, and he and his brother will have so much energy in them that they’ll explode. Well, we’ll just re-channel it! Think of all of the explosions of energy and creativity throughout history that turned into music and paintings and novels and films! Think how sorry we’d be if instead of making music, paintings, novels, and films, the creator had been sitting around watching Star Wars cartoons. Maybe we’ll have to add a few more screen-free days!

Salty caramel chocolate chip bars

Salty caramel chocolate chip bars

This is something between a cake and bar cookies. It’s made with ground almonds and hazelnuts and very little flour. It’s dense and a little chewy and crunchy on top. It has browned butter inside, brown sugar on top, and a sprinkling of coarse salt, so it’s got a rich, caramel-y flavor. Delicious with tea, coffee or red wine.

Here’s Elvis Perkins with Doomsday. I’m currently obsessed with this beautiful-melancholy-cheerful song.
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Malcolm’s strawberry surprise cookies

Chocolate covered strawberry cookies

Chocolate covered strawberry cookies

I like most flavors. I love some more than others, obviously, but there aren’t many that I actively dislike. I suppose this is why I’ve always been impatient with picky eaters. I just don’t understand not liking food! And then along came Isaac. He’s hard to feed. I get angry with him sometimes, because he seems to decide he doesn’t like something before he’s even tasted it! He seems to not like something just because I made it! It hurts my feelings! I made something the other day and he liked it at first, but after a few bites he put it down. “How is that possible!?!?” I wanted to yell. But he said, “I like the first flavor, and the middle flavor, but the last flavor is something I don’t like.” And then it struck me that we taste things differently. I suppose this is obvious and I should have known it all along, but I hadn’t really thought about it before. For me, tasting something is an immediate experience, for Isaac it’s a journey. All of those wine labels that mention top notes and bottom notes, which leave me feeling a little perplexed? Isaac would get that, he’d know what they mean. He’s got a complicated taster. I used to joke with David, when we first met, that he was more of a discerning eater because he hadn’t deadened his taste buds by burning them on hot coffee and tea as often as I had, but in truth, I think he’s just got a more complicated taster, and he passed it on to our boys. It’s become a cliché to say that children like bland foods, and to give them plain pasta and plain potatoes and bread, but I don’t think this is true at all. Most of the foods Isaac likes are bursting with flavor: goat cheese and olives and capers. I suppose it’s a question of letting them try everything and decide for themselves what they like, and recognizing that it’s okay if they like different things. I’d like to be able to taste the way Isaac does, to think about the first and middle and the last of it. I’m going to give it a try, to really think about all of the flavors. And this understanding applies to all things. I’ve long thought that one person’s courage is another person’s lack of imagination. It’s not necessarily brave to face fears that you don’t feel or dangers that you’re not aware of because they hadn’t occurred to you. We’re less likely to be impatient with somebody or call them a coward if we understand that they might just have a more complicated and active imagination. We’ve just got to learn to slow down and take that walk with them, and be sure to notice every part of the journey.

Chocolate covered strawberry cookies

Chocolate covered strawberry cookies

Malcolm invented these cookies, and when he was describing them and I wasn’t quite understanding it, he said, “I’ve got a very complicated mind.” He does, and I’m glad of it. And these cookies were delicious. They’re quite large, like little cakes really, and this recipe makes only twelve of them. They’re like giant thumb print cookies, with fresh strawberries hidden under a layer of dark chocolate. They were delicious! We all decided that if we made them again we’d add a little jam or nutella under the strawberry, so the whole thing doesn’t slide out when you bite into it. I melted chocolate chips on top of the cookies and then spread that across them, but you could also melt chocolate separately and spread that over, if that seems easier to you.

Here’s Sugar Never Tasted So Good by the White Stripes
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Cadbury mini-egg clafoutis

Cadbury mini-egg clafoutis

Cadbury mini-egg clafoutis

Malcolm was a little cantankerous last week (to use one of his vocabulary words). He was slightly brittle. He became upset and annoyed very easily, he yelled and cried over the slightest things. He goes through these moods sometimes (don’t we all?). They don’t last long and I’m sure they’re part of a growth spurt or hormones or some other completely normal and natural occurrence. And I always deal with the situation with my usual gracious composure. I certainly didn’t yell back at him. I certainly didn’t yell, “You want to see a tantrum? I’ll show you a tantrum!” because that would have been horrible parenting, mama. I didn’t ask him over and over and over if something was bothering him, something at school, maybe? Something with his friends? Because that kind of pestering never works and everybody knows it only annoys the pesteree. On Friday he went to breakfast at one friend’s house and after school he went for a sleepover at another friend’s house, and since I had to work Saturday morning, I didn’t think I’d see him for quite a few hours. So Thursday night we were cuddling and reading in Isaac’s bed, as we always do, but it was much later than usual and I was tired and I just wanted to go downstairs and switch myself off. Malcolm grabbed my arm and wouldn’t let go and said I should stay just a few more minutes. Which I should have done. I should have stayed and read with them. I shouldn’t have gotten cranky and angry and gone downstairs. All that night and the next day and the next I felt bad about it. What is it about these small moments of regret that are so poignant? Why do these seemingly insignificant missed opportunities take on so much weight and meaning? I suppose because it hurts to realize we’ve underestimated the importance of a particular moment, and in doing so we’ve lost it. So the thing to do is to notice everything and appreciate everything, to understand how valuable these few minutes are even as they’re passing. To savor every moment of connection and recognize it for the glowing thing it is. And, of course, to be glad that no event is finite, it’s all part of a longer chain of moments flying by. This week Malcolm is back to his sweet cheerful self. He woke up Monday morning whistling “Let’s go Fly a Kite,” he didn’t get annoyed when I asked him five times if he had his homework and his lunch and his safety patrol belt. And last night he did his homework up on my bed while I put laundry away. We were looking up words in the dictionary, which is one of my favorite pastimes. We were laughing at the word cantankerous. And Clio came and stood between us, just stood and hovered, very quietly and seriously for more than a few minutes. Not a very spectacular incident, but I don’t think I’ll be forgetting it any time soon.

Cadbury mini-egg clafoutis

Cadbury mini-egg clafoutis

What? Cadbury mini-egg clafoutis?!?! That’s right!! It’s probably not an official clafoutis, which as we all know is a French tart made of cherries baked in a sweet batter. It’s a tart made of mini-eggs baked in a sweet batter! I added ground almonds to the mix, because I love the flavor of them. I made this twice, the first time I added almond extract, and the second time I left it out. Both kinds were tasty. Also, the first time I sprinkled all the eggs on top before baking and they sank to the bottom. The second time I added them gradually as the batter cooked and solidified and they were more evenly distributed. I liked it both ways. The eggs stay pleasantly soft, so you don’t feel as though you’re cracking your teeth on something hard in the soft batter, and you get just a little crunch from the shell. Nice.
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Raspberry chocolate biscotti ice cream

Raspberry chocolate biscotti ice cream

Raspberry chocolate biscotti ice cream

“Would you rather have one weakness nobody could detect, or no weaknesses at all?”

“No weaknesses at all.”

“No, would you rather have one weakness nobody could detect or no weaknesses at all?”

“Well I just don’t see why anybody would want a weakness if they could choose to have no weaknesses.”

“If you have a weakness and you wish to get rid of it, then you’re not yourself any more! Your weakness is part of who you are!”

These are the wise words of our Isaac, eight years old. At the beginning of the year when getting-to-know-you exercises abound, Isaac brought home a self-portrait with bright blue eyes, and on the bottom he wrote that his blue eyes and his heart murmur make him special. He’s got a heart murmur he won’t grow out of, and when they first diagnosed it, he thought it might be a defect, but now he’s embraced it as something that makes him different, something to be proud of. After all, there’s nobody on earth with a heart like Isaac’s! I love to think about Isaac thinking about these things. I love to think about him thinking about what makes a person a person, and thinking with such grounded generosity about the weakness that everybody on earth must inevitably have. Of course a weakness is a vulnerability, which is why we keep our weaknesses as secret as we can, and we hope that no one will detect it. Unless we love somebody, and then we open our hearts to them, and trust them with the knowledge of all or our weaknesses and foibles; we share our good and our bad. This takes great courage, but it turns weakness into strength, and Isaac does this better than anyone. He shares his remarkable thoughts, his uncommon contemplations, and his unguarded love with a warmth and wisdom that make him as strong as anyone I know.

Raspberry chocolate biscotti ice cream

Raspberry chocolate biscotti ice cream

I have a terrible weakness for ice cream! We’ve been snowed in so many days that I’ve been baking through bag after bag of flour. On one day I made croissants and biscotti, both from Craig Claiborne’s New York Times Cookbook. We changed the biscotti recipe slightly, because Malcolm wanted to add almonds and chocolate. So we added some almond extract, too, and a pinch of cinnamon. They turned out nice! In order to coat one side of them with chocolate I devised the ingenious method of placing chocolate chips along one side when they’re returned to the oven for the final ten minute drying-out period, and then spreading the chocolate once it softened. I think I might have baked them slightly too long, because they were extra crumbly when I tried to slice them, but we put those crumbs to good use! We took any of the half-pieces and mangled pieces and tiny pieces, and we ground them up even further in a food processor with some bittersweet chocolate chips, and we added them to raspberry ice cream. (Wintertime raspberry ice cream, with framboise and raspberry jam rather than fresh raspberries). This turned out deeeeeeelicious!

Here’s The Weakest Part by Yo La Tengo.

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Oatmeal chocolate chip pecan praline cookies

Oatmeal chocolate chip pecan praline cookies

Oatmeal chocolate chip pecan praline cookies

Where I’m from, the kids used to run around the neighborhood like wild things. We’d chart the in-between places, behind garages alongside hedges, in parking lots and alleys. We played tag and hide and seek, we ran around with bows and arrows made out of sticks and string, and we never crossed the street. We played stickball and climbed trees and spied: we had secret hand signals and elaborate stories about the goings on of the neighborhood. At night we dared each other to run down to the next corner and touch the mailbox. It was a small town and when we were older we’d walk the streets endlessly, night and day, looking for anyone we knew. When somebody learned to drive we’d all pile in the car and drive around the streets slowly, looking for anyone we knew or we’d drive right out of town and feel like we were free, like we were flying. We’d go to parties and drink sweet sickening drinks and dance to the Beastie Boys and the Violent Femmes. In the summer we’d drive to the shore and sneak over tall walls onto private beaches, and swim in the ocean at night. It was all remarkably uneventful, though it felt full of meaning and drama at the time.

I like songs about home, about where people are from and when they’re from. Like Mos Def’s Habitat.

    When I think of home, my remembrance of my beginning
    Laundromat helping ma dukes fold the bed linen
    Chillin in front my building with my brother and them
    Spending nights in Bushwick with my cousins and them
    Wise town and Beat Street, federal relief
    Slowly melting in the morning grits we used to eat
    Sticking to your teeth and teeth is hard to keep
    With every flavor Now & Later only a dime apiece
    Old timers on the bench playing cards and thangs
    Telling tales about they used to be involved in things
    Start to drinking, talking loud, cussing up and showing out
    On the phone, call the cops, pick’em up, move’em out
    And it’s all too common to start wildin
    I’m a pirate on an island seeking treasure known as silence
    And it’s hard to find

Or Dungeon Family’s White Gutz

    Sitting on 400 wides that’s what they love
    Incense swingin from the mirror that’s what they love
    Six course licked with the glaze that’s what they love
    drive with the dealership tag that’s what they love
    hairbone strayed on my shoulder that’s what they love
    the smell of new leather in the cold that’s what they love
    strawhat V-neck t’s that what they love
    moonroof open blowing smoke that’s what they love
    Romeo cologne every week that’s what they love
    that’s what they love

Or K’naan’s My Old Home

    My old home smelled of good birth
    Boiled red beans, kernel oil and hand me down poetry
    It’s brick white-washed walls widowed by first paint
    The tin roof top humming songs of promise while time is
    Locked into demonic rhythm with the leaves
    The trees had to win
    Hugging them, loving them a torturous love
    Buggin’ when
    It was over and done
    The round cemented pot kept the rain drops cool
    Neighbors and dwellers spatter in the pool
    Kids playin football with his hand and sock
    We had what we got, and it wasn’t a lot

So the subject of today’s Sunday Interactive Playlist is Where I’m From. It’s a song about the place and time that made you. The song doesn’t have to be about where you’re from, or even where the singer is from, just a song about somebody’s home.

Oatmeal chocolate chip pecan praline cookies

Oatmeal chocolate chip pecan praline cookies

Two recipes in a row with pecan praline in them? Yes, indeed. I had some leftover, and I thought it would be good with chocolate chips. So I actually made even more, because it’s so completely easy to make. And then I combined it with oats and put it in cookies. Oatmeal chocolate chip cookies are our natural anti-depressant, here at The Ordinary, and it’s been a long, cold winter!

Here’s a link to your interactive playlist. Add what you like! Or make a suggestion in the comments and I’ll add it through the week.

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