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Entries in cornmeal (3)

Sunday
Sep302012

Chewy Vanilla Bean Cinnamon Bars

Chewy Vanilla Cinnamon Bars

At times, I struggle to live in the moment. I'm always looking forward, planning ahead, or dreaming about the future. When the everyday begins to grow lackluster, my mind wanders to exotic holidays through ancient cities and foreign landscapes or to the everyday moments of future life that may or may not come to pass. My head drifts above the clouds while my body goes through the daily routines.

I struggle to ground myself in the familiar day-to-day activities of making dinner and studying for exams.

Chewy Vanilla Cinnamon Bars

In many ways, a part of me has always been a dreamer. When I was younger, I could never decide what I would be when I grew up. I could imagine the details of a life where I was an author, a zookeeper, a doctor, or an astronomer. I wanted to play a part in all of these lives. I never wanted to settle down, to make a real decision about life, because it felt like there was such a finality about doing so. I wanted to leave more doors open than I would ever hope to shut.

When I walk through home and furniture stores, I imagine my future home and how I'll fill the empty rooms. My home by the sea will hold worn wood furniture and carry the colors of the skies; my home in the woods will welcome long shadows, stone, and the spirit of a dancing flame. These daydreams feel so real in my head; I find myself too busy divining a future that I've failed to cover the white-walls in my current apartment to make my house feel more like a home.

Chewy Vanilla Cinnamon Bars

As I've grown up, the dreamer in me has had her fair share of doses of reality. Decisions are inevitable (though never final) and every path has its share of ups and downs. Even when doing something I love, my head still floats above the clouds, wondering what may be around the next corner. As the ever wise JK Rowling cautioned me, "It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live." Those words struck such a chord.

The truth is that I have been forgetting to live in the present for quite awhile now. Instead of dreaming about becoming a mother or wife, a teacher or world traveler, I need to appreciate being a young woman with few ties to hold me down and high aspirations to lead my way. These days will pass too soon. Thanks for the reminder, Ms. Rowling.

Chewy Vanilla Cinnamon Bars

These Vanilla Bean Cinnamon Bars have a little trick up their sleeves. Though they may appear to be cake-like in texture, they are actually pleasantly dense and chewy. Vanilla bean and cinnamon round out the flavor, while cornmeal lends the surprisingly texture. Topped with a light vanilla glaze, these bars may find a place in your fall rotation.

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Wednesday
May022012

Peanut Butter Cornmeal Cookies

Peanut Butter Cornmeal Cookies

Lethargic, listless, lackadaisical. I've been utterly lazy the last week and half. At first, it was because I was jet-lagged, blaming time differences and long flights on my reason for not getting up from the couch. However, after the fatigue wore off, so did my excuses. I began setting my alarm to get up for the gym—an honest attempt to drag myself back into a normal schedule. Waking up to the loud beeping with cloudy skies overhead, I found myself hitting the snooze button and turning over for another hour's rest.

Not today, I'd tell myself. Maybe tomorrow...

Peanut Butter Cornmeal Cookies Peanut Butter Cornmeal Cookies

One day turned into two. Then three, then four. After rolling out of bed, I'd eat breakfast before situating myself in front of the television to watch hours of sitcoms and Lifetime movies. I made up excuses to convince myself I didn't need to leave the house. Overdue library books sat by the front door, accumulating small, but bothersome ten cent charges each day that passed. I wasn't sad or depressed, sick or under the weather. I was simply and inexcusably lazy.

I don't really need to go to the gym, I'd tell myself while eating through a bag of potato chips. I'll bake something tomorrow, I'd assure myself, scrolling through more recipes on Pinterest. Laziness was a luxury, wasn't it?

But, as the days turned into a week, I wasn't so sure of that anymore.

Peanut Butter Cornmeal Cookies

Abraham Miller once said that he who knows how to loaf is wiser than three sages. I have the feeling, however, he wasn't talking about me. With all the reality television I was watching, I couldn't hope to be as wise as one sage, much less three. Laziness was no longer a luxury. It was becoming a chore (and no one likes chores).

Exactly 10 days after my lazy streak started, it abruptly ended. I pulled myself together. I went to the gym. I cuddled back up to my Kitchenaid mixer and made sweet, sweet desserts. I returned the library books back to their rightful home. Though laziness does have a time and place (and I will look back upon mine fondly), sometimes enough is enough.

The real world comes calling and we all must get up off the couch.

Peanut Butter Cornmeal Cookies

These Peanut Butter Cornmeal Cookies are the product of curious thinking and experimentation. Gluten and dairy free, the cookies are made with crunchy peanut butter and rolled in sugar for sweetness. The cornmeal adds a little extra texture to these cookies, without a distinguishable taste. Though the cornmeal can give the cookies a drier texture, it isn't anything a glass of milk can't cure.

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Friday
May132011

Cornmeal Parmesan and Poppy Seed Crackers

Cornmeal Parmesan and Poppy Seed Crackers

There is something very visceral about baking a homemade loaf of bread. Instead of buying a loaf of bread at the store or letting a bread maker do it for me, I'm taking the time out of my day and using my own hands to create something out of a few simple ingredients.

Standing in the kitchen and kneading dough in silence has a great therapeutic effect for me. I feel as if I am somehow more connected to the earth (or maybe I just feel more connected with myself). It's my release for anger, for frustration, or for built-up emotion. Whatever my emotions are going in, the result is always the same—a sense of calm and tranquility.

Cornmeal Parmesan and Poppy Seed Crackers

I have 8 minutes to myself. To think. To feel the muscles in my arms work. To sense the changing of the dough's elasticity beneath my fingertips. To smell the yeast in the air. To feel awe for the simplicity and elegance involved in creating a loaf of bread. This is the way bread has been made for thousands of years. The basic steps are always the same—they always have been and they always will be. I find comfort in the process. It is rustic, true, but it is sophisticated at the same time.

Instead of another bread recipe, this week I thought I'd share something that's new to me and maybe new to you too—homemade crackers. I have never made crackers before and, without knowing the process in which make them, it seemed daunting. Much to my surprise, the recipe was incredibly easy and quick, involving only a few minutes of hands on time (and a few extra to allow the dough to rest). The dough was very easy to work with and rolled out like a dream. If you have never made crackers before, I urge you to give it a try. You might just be amazed at how simple and delicious it can be.

Cornmeal Parmesan and Poppy Seed Crackers

These Cornmeal Parmesan and Poppy Seed Crackers are flaky, light, and addictive. These crackers feature crunchy cornmeal and freshly grated Parmesan cheese. They are then sprinkled with poppy seeds and flaked sea salt for extra flavor and a touch of decorative flair. The crackers can easily stand alone but are neutral enough to serve with cheese. This recipe is simple enough that I believe anyone can make them and make them well.

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