My ex-sister-in-law used to talk about totem animals. I’m not sure precisely what she meant, (I’m simple!) but to me it’s always meant the animal that you’d be, if you could be an animal. If your spirit could leave your body (at night, say, in your dreams) and slip into a body that felt more comfortable, what body would that be? For me, it’s always been an otter. They used to live around here, but they were hunted out of existence in this area. It makes me sad that you can only see them in zoos, but when we do visit zoos, I find the otters mesmerizing. I saw this video yesterday, and I can’t stop watching it! I think I’m losing it! I’m not a person who LOLs and posts cute things. But this video kills me. I love Nellie’s ridiculously beautiful otter belly, and the sound the cups make when she hits them against it. I love her speaking face and paws – every expression and gesture is so perfect. I love how slick and cool she is. I love her otter friend, who’s just kicking back, happy to be with her. I feel bad for her that she’s in a zoo, and that she’s performing for fish. But I love how she looks at the zookeeper, when she’s given the cups in the wrong order, with a sweet look that seems to say, “There’s no fish in here, and you got the order all wrong. Sheesh.” I love that when she holds her friend’s paws, which she’s told to do, she half-closes her eyes.
What’s your totem animal?
Holy Smoke, I’m waaaaaaaay behind on telling you about recipes. I’ll never catch up! I won’t make it to everything. Some recipes will get left behind. These were nice, though, so I’ll tell you about them. I wanted do make a sort of shortbread cookie with pine nuts. I realized that I always think of pine nuts in a savory setting, but they have such a smoky sweetness that I thought they’d be nice in a cookie. And they were! I could have probably left it at that, but I felt that they’d be good with a touch of lemon zest. And everything’s better with a coating of bittersweet chocolate, right?
Here’s Jean Redpath with Song of the Seals
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1/2 t salt
1 t vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup pine nuts, plus an extra handful
zest of one lemon
3/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350.
Cream the butter till soft and fluffy. Beat in the sugar and then the egg and vanilla. When it’s all nice and smooth, add the dry ingredients, and mix well.
Lightly butter two big cookie sheets. Place the cookies in small teaspoonfuls a couple of inches apart on the cookie sheets. Press them flatish and make them nice and round with wet fingers. Sprinkle a few pine nuts on each cookie. Bake for 7 to 10 minutes, till they start to brown on the bottom, and they’re firm to the touch. Let them cool.
Meanwhile, melt the chocolate in a small saucepan over a larger saucepan with boiling water. using a butter knife, spread an even coating of chocolate on the bottom of each cookie. Leave them to set. (I moved them to the fridge, cause it was a hot day, but once they’re set you can store them at room temperature.)
Fell in love with sea otters in Alaska. They float on their backs with their little legs and heads up and look so relaxed about life. some pics are here if I copied it right: https://www.google.com/search?q=sea+otter+photos&hl=en&client=firefox-a&hs=ulE&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&prmd=imvns&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&s
Ah, thank you. I spent some time looking at those, and then switched to river otter images. Just love them!
I once saw a weasel swimming in the creek behind our house catching silvery fish. It was cool, but I’ve never seen one since. We have lots of nutria in the creek, too. They are considered pests, but are pretty cute especially when they have their kids with them. They do eat the lettuce in my garden though. Have you ever read Gavin Maxwell’s Ring of Bright Water? It’s a neat book about otters and one in particular. I have a recipe for pine nut cookies with saffron which I’ve been meaning to try for years now.
Where do you live? i’d love to see a weasel. Although they’re a little scary, too, I think. I’ve heard of Ring of Bright Water…did they make a movie of it? And it’s very sad in the end? I didn’t read the book though. Pine nut and saffron sounds good. I was thinking I’d like to make pine nut anise cookies, but I had fennel seeds, not anise. I very nearly tried that! But I chickened out.
I live in the Willamette Valley of Oregon. The weasel was very small and not at all threatening; maybe there are different kinds. I only knew it was a weasel because I was with a biologist. We have river otters here too (but not in my creek). I once saw a carcass by the river and didn’t know what it was–a dog with webbed feet? Only later did I realize it was an otter. A few years later I saw one cross the road in a forest.