I remember very clearly the painful process of learning to read. I didn't begin learning until I was in Grade One at school - six years old. I don't remember much of the in-school process, just stumbling through reading aloud from the Tip and Mitten readers we used (I loved those readers, lol!) The vivid memories I have are of the sessions with my much adored but not-terribly-patient father as he helped me get the basics under my belt. I remember trying hard to do something that felt huge and murky. I don't know what magic wand was waved or when or how but it must have happened because voila! one day, Comprehension. The clouds parted, it all made sense, and my life has never been the same. I love to read. Love, love, love to read. My taste ranges wide and my library is large. I have books in literally every room in the house - except the bathroom (where ironically many people do the only reading of their day. Ha!) I read magazines and cookbooks, novels and history, scripture, biographies, and coffee table books. There are books I have read many times over and books on my shelf that are 'aging' until just the right moment when they will beguile or enlighten.
Once I understood the magic of print on a page books became a constant friend - always there, full of new stories of other lives, places and times. I would read when I should have been practicing the piano, or cleaning my room, or doing homework or chores. I loved to read at night before turning out the light - and often read far too late and into the wee hours. I read and read and read - through school and university and into motherhood. I suspect each of my children has a strong memory of me with a book in hand because I always did. Books by then had become more than entertainment, they were tutors, mentors, resources, as well.
Of course, I have not lost that love. Curling up in a cozy corner or favorite comfy chair with a good book is a quiet luxury that I hope I can always afford. A cup of herbal tea, a soft throw, and biscotti add layers of lovely luxury. Just thinking about it I unwind, mellow.
Biscotti I realize, draws a mixed reaction. There are lovers and haters. I am a lover - most of the time. Not a big fan of the stuff on the grocery store shelf but then when one compares homemade cookies to the stuff on the shelves at the local grocery market is that any wonder? If you haven't had or made biscotti at home I urge you to try it. Super simple and so very delicious it is well worth the time. This recipe is not only delicious but reasonably healthy. Biscotti has less fat and sugar than a regular cookie so that is a plus right off the bat. This recipe has the added blessings of tart dried cherries, pistachios, and coconut sugar, flour and oil. I love the crunch of the cornmeal combined with the buttery flavour of the nuts all offset against the wonderful tart cherries .... I have a hard time keeping my hand out of the tin - so I don't set it on the table next to my tea and book :)
(Try these after they come out of the oven from the first baking - yummm! Good either way.)
(adapted from whole living magazine)
1/2 cup unbleached spelt flour (or all-purpose flour)
1/2 cup coconut flour
1 cup stone-ground yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup coconut palm sugar
6 Tbsp virgin coconut oil
1 Tbsp finely grated lemon zest
1 cup dried cherries
1 cup shelled pistachios
Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Whisk together the flours, cornmeal, coconut, baking powder, and salt.
In the bowl of an electric mixer mix the eggs, sugar, coconut oil, and lemon zest. Beat until well combined. Reduce mixer speed and ad the flour mixture, mixing until just combined. Fold in cherries and pistachios.
Transfer dough to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Using wet hands pat dough into a log about 14" long by 4" wide. Bake until firm and golden, about 35 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely.
Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F. Transfer the log to a cutting board and using a serrated knife cut diagonally into 1/2" slices. Arrange the slices standing upright on the parchment-lined sheet and bake for an additional 15-18 minutes or until they are golden around the edges and crisp through. Cool completely.
Full disclosure: I used to pay/bribe my kids to play with my hair while I read in the evening after a long day or on summer afternoons when it was just too hot to do anything else. I hope their memories of those times are as golden as mine - me with a book and all my little ones busy around me. Some with toys, some with a book of their own. Sometimes I read aloud to them. unwind.......