Pistachio chocolate chip cake

Pistachio cardamom chocolate chip cake

Pistachio cardamom chocolate chip cake

Sad news about Seamus Heaney! It’s strange because I’ve been thinking about him lately. As you may have notice I’ve been semi-obsessed with mythological characters–reading about them, writing about them, reinterpreting the lives of ordinary people as if they were mythological characters, following some pattern of characteristics of all mythological characters in all cultures. Back in March I declared Heaney a poet laureate of The Ordinary, and I said this about him…

    His poems seemed washed in the affectionate, melancholic light of memory, so that everything he touches quietly glows. We all cast mythical shadows in his poems, we’re all the gods and goddesses of our own creation. However humble our labors may seem, they become honorable in his words.

Probably not a very scholarly or accurate thing to say about his poetry, but that’s how it feels to me, and that’s how it fits my mood lately.

When asked to choose two poems that summed up his life’s work, he chose two with mythical overtones. In The Underground, he imagines a scene from his honeymoon in light of the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice.


    There we were in the vaulted tunnel running,
    You in your going-away coat speeding ahead
    And me, me then like a fleet god gaining
    Upon you before you turned to a reed

    Or some new white flower japped with crimson
    As the coat flapped wild and button after button
    Sprang off and fell in a trail
    Between the Underground and the Albert Hall.

    Honeymooning, moonlighting, late for the Proms,
    Our echoes die in that corridor and now
    I come as Hansel came on the moonlit stones
    Retracing the path back, lifting the buttons

    To end up in a draughty lamplit station
    After the trains have gone, the wet track
    Bared and tensed as I am, all attention
    For your step following and damned if I look back.

Damned if I look back!!

This is a mild, plainish cake, with subtle flavors. A tea-cake, if you will. Good with your coffee in the morning, your tea in the afternoon, and your wine after dinner. It’s very easy to make, I did it all in the food processor in a matter of minutes. It has pistachios ground right into the batter. It’s flavored with vanilla and cardamom, and of course it has chocolate chips, because all good cakes have chocolate chips!! I made it in the French style, with whipped eggs and no extra leavening.

Here’s Seamus Heaney reading The Underground, for your song today.

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Blueberry and meyer lemon cake

Blueberry meyer lemon cake

Blueberry meyer lemon cake

Here at The Ordinary, we have words in great store. We keep them in packets, in boxes, in trunks. We have marble vaults for the cool words that melt in the warmth. Hot words are kept in toasty nests lined with downy feathers. We’re waiting for them to hatch. Whole phrases are stored in coils – pull on the first, and a wondrous surprising chain of words will follow it out of its lair. Fully-formed sentences, with giddily precise punctuation, lie in furrows in our greenhouses, buried in soft soil, watered every morning, waiting to sprout. Rows of dusty drawers in sheds and old shacks contain words in a jumble. They were labeled once, and organized, but now they’re tossed in any old way, and rarely used. We have carefully guarded collections of curious old words, elaborate, intriguing, well-wrought. We’ve forgotten how to use them! We can only guess at their original function. And, of course, we have small words all around us, falling constantly, as light and icy as snow. They make the world seem strangely quiet, despite their great number. They melt to nothing as soon as they touch us. We have rooms full of useful words, close to hand, which we take out each and every day. And words for special occasions, carefully preserved in tissue paper, to be unwrapped when we need them most. The boys have words, too, piled in any which way in jumbles on their desks and under their beds. Words that they’ve invented themselves, that they throw around with giddy grace. Well, we have words, everywhere you look, seeping out of every crack in the plaster. And yet, oddly, we sometimes have nothing to say! We’re at a loss for them, and we don’t know how to put them together. We don’t know which goes with which – in what order, to what purpose?

This is a simple cake. A cake you can have with a cup of coffee in the morning, a cup of tea in the afternoon, or a glass of wine after dinner. We always have something like this around the house! Some little sweet thing in the cupboard. It’s easy to make, and nice to eat. Meyer lemon zest, when baked, has a lovely piney flavor. Combined with the sweet tart citrussy kick of the juice, a few spoonfuls of marmalade, and a handful of fresh blueberries, this was a pleasantly juicy cake, with an unusual flavor.

Here’s Billie Holiday with Too Marvelous for Words.

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