Thursday Thoughts

Casual Day
Yesterday I made a trip to the bank to deposit a check. As I walked to the bank’s entrance, there was a 30-something woman walking ahead of me, and into the bank. I wouldn’t have noticed her except for the fact that SHE WAS WEARING HER PAJAMAS. I’m not mistaken. These were not just a t-shirt and those comfy flannel pants that I occasionally see people wear out in public that cause me to be slightly aghast. No my friends, these were full-out pajamas. They were lavender and had little teddy bears on them. Now, there have been a few times when I have caught myself just in the nick of time from leaving the house wearing my bedroom slippers. But it seems unlikely to me that she simply forgot she was wearing her pajamas. It must have taken her no time at all to get ready for bed last night.

Four Score and Seven Years Ago
After I finished my banking yesterday, I went to the nearby pho restaurant to eat my lunch. I believe I could eat pho three times a week and not get sick of it, and I’m not even Vietnamese. I frequently eat lunch there and read a book while slurping my noodles. I am currently reading the next in a series by Louise Penney featuring Chief Inspector Armand Gamache. The series is one of my favorites and I would like Gamache to be one of my friends. He is smart, kind, and extremely elegant. In the book, Gamache said that he hadn’t seen someone in over a fortnight. A fortnight. I want to use that word sometime in my real life. Like maybe when I’m getting a pedicure and I want to make an appointment for a couple of weeks down the road. I could say, “Do you have an opening available in a fortnight?” Or maybe not. It’s a good word, though, isn’t it? I would have to work on my British accent.

Hide and Seek
On Tuesday, Dagny and Maggie Faith and I went out geocaching, the high-tech hide and seek game that Jen and I are crazy about. I’m pleased that some of my grandchildren share my love for this particular hobby. They are game for anything and fairly efficient searchers. They are certainly dedicated. Unfortunately, my cell phone – which acts as my GPS and connects to the geocaching website – wasn’t working correctly. As a result, ISonic Slushes was unable to use it to help find the hidden treasures. It didn’t deter the girls one little bit. That’s probably because they don’t really understand how the caches get there anyway. It’s all a great mystery to them. I was able to determine that there was a cache located somewhere just inside a tunnel in a nearby park through which a tiny little stream was flowing. I’m calling it a tiny little stream in a valient attempt to convince myself that it wasn’t sewage. Anyway, we searched and searched to no avail. Dagny begged me – BEGGED ME – to let her walk through the long tunnel to the other side to see if it was there. I wouldn’t let her do that. “Why not?” she asked me with the most pitiful face imaginable. I explained that I didn’t really understand the purpose of the tunnel, and that I didn’t want her in the middle of it when some Denver water official decided to open up a spigot and the stream turned into a river. She was sad, but became less sad when I told them that one of my traditions of geocaching was going to Sonic afterwards and getting a slushy. In fact, the slushies turned into milkshakes, and they were both happy campers despite our geocaching failure.

Can’t Get Enough
So Bill and I are now absolutely HOOKED on biscotti. We can’t seem to get enough. Yesterday afternoon I made a batch, but decided to shake it up a bit by adapting a recipe I’d seen on Pinterest for Cinnamon Biscotti. I used the recipe I posted on Wednesday for Cranberry and Pistachio Biscotti, but instead of adding the dried cranberries and chopped pistachios, I formed the loaf and basted it with a beaten egg, then sprinkled it heavily with cinnamon sugar. After I cut the individual cookies, I sprinkled them also with cinnamon sugar. They are delicious. They taste like a hard, dunkable snickerdoodle. Yum.

Ciao.

Cinnamon Biscotti

 

Hard Cookies

Back in 2000 (which will forever be in my mind as Y2K – the year the world was going to end and computers were going to blow up), my sister Jen and her daughter Maggie traveled with Bill and me to Italy. Bill and I had been before, and we were so excited to show off that country we loved so much to Jen and Maggie. We spent two weeks and had a BLAST.

At the time, Maggie was in her early 20s and absolutely gorgeous. (She’s still absolutely gorgeous, but no longer in her early 20s.) Her appearance gave us an advantage in many regards, not the least of which was getting into restaurants that were completely full. We would send Maggie in to see if there was room, and shockingly, they always found us a spot, at least if the spot-finder was male. One waiter was so taken with her that he actually had us take a picture of himself with her. Oh, to be young and beautiful.

Anyway, many years later when Maggie got married (but not to the waiter), at least in part because of her fond memories of her trip to Italy, she elected to have somewhat of an Italian theme for her wedding. As such, she decided to give an Italian theme to the treats she left in the hotel rooms for the out-of-town guests. I don’t remember what all she gave save for one thing. She included cellophane-wrapped packages of three biscotti.

You know, biscotti. Those hard quarter-moon-shaped cookies that Italians dip into their espresso. Or into their wine if they are so inclined. I’ve tried it. It’s delicious.

She was going to purchase the biscotti. But I told her that was a waste of money. I could make biscotti. She agreed and so I did. They turned out quite nicely, thank you very much. I don’t remember what kinds I made, but I do remember that I made a heck of a lot of them. We put three in a package and decorated it with curly ribbon.

As an aside, Bill, Jen and I spent an entire day preparing the gift packages for the guests. In addition to biscotti, she also had little bags of M&Ms. I still can picture Bill preparing those bags.  A handful for the gift bags, a handful for Bill. And so it went.

I hadn’t given biscotti much of a thought since then until our recent visit to Chicago. Wilma had some of the best biscotti I had ever tasted. They had crunchy pistachios and tart cranberries. They were crunchy and delicious when we would dunk them in our morning coffee and eat them without dunking throughout the day until – oops – they were gone.

Where did you get them, I asked Wilma. The answer: Bill’s brother Bruce. Well, of course.

So I sent Bruce an email asking him where he got the biscotti so that we could replace them. The answer will be no surprise to those who know Bruce – he got them at what he calls a salvage store. Bruce is the King of Tuesday Mornings and my bargain shopping hero.

We ended up buying lemon biscotti at Costco. But I couldn’t get the pistachio/cranberry biscotti out of my mind.

So I made some when we got home. And they are even better than those we devoured at Wilma’s. In fact, they are absolutely scrumptious.

Biscotti get their hardness from being baked twice – once in a loaf, and once sliced. There is absolutely nothing difficult about making biscotti, but it takes a bit of time. Time that is so well worth spending….

You first bake the loaf of biscotti.....

You first bake the loaf of biscotti…..

You slice them and bake them individually.

You slice them and bake them individually.

 

Here is the recipe…. Bon appetito!

Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti
Adapted from Giada DeLaurentis and Food Network

Ingredients
2 c. all-purpose flour
1-1/2 t. baking powder
3/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. butter, room temperature
1 t. grated lemon zest
1/4 t. salt
2 eggs
3/4 c. pistachios, coarsely chopped
2/3 c. dried cranberries, coarsely chopped

Process
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line a heavy large baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk the flour and baking powder together. Using an electric mixer, beat the sugar, butter, lemon zest, and salt in a large bowl to blend. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Add the flour mixture and beat just until blended. Stir in the pistachios and cranberries.

Form the dough into a 13-in long, 3-in wide log on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until light golden, about 40 minutes. Cool for 30 minutes.

Place the log on the cutting board. Using a serrated knife, cut the log on a diagonal into 1/2 to 3/4 inch slices. Arrange the biscotti, cut side down, on the baking sheet. Bake the biscotti until they are pale golden, about 15 minutes. Transfer the biscotti to a rack and cool completely.

Nana’s Notes: You can dip the cookies in a white chocolate or dark chocolate frosting, but I prefer mine plain. Keep in mind that the cookies don’t rise at all during the second baking, so you can set the biscotti right next to one another on the baking sheet.