Watch now while I do something that I feel certain has never even been attempted before. As you sit back and take it all in, I will deftly weave Kim Kardashian, breastfeeding, Margaret Atwood and chestnut shortbread all together in a single post. And people say New England is dull in February!
In addition to having, and nursing, three children of my own, I worked for ten years or so as a counselor to new mothers. All of this made me kind of a boob nerd. [As an aside, may I say blessings on your path however you feed or fed any babies of your own. I hope you have or had all the support you need or needed on whatever path you took, and that your babies and you thrived, which is the point. A boob nerd is not the same as a boob zealot.]
Here is a bonus, unadvertised mention of Madonna, to illustrate the extent of my boob nerdishness: I was at a party once where the host had Madonna’s big book of nakedness and sex (that’s not actually the title, though I think it was probably on the short list) out on a table. I peered at one picture and said, “well, would you look at her areolas! So tiny!” My husband said something to the effect of, “that’s your comment on seeing Madonna’s giant glossy book of nude pictures of herself, wherein she is seen naked-hang-gliding as well as aerobically entwined with all manner of sex toys, human and otherwise?” It was. They are really tiny.
All this to say that people like to send me little things about breastfeeding when it crops up in the news. And so it was that I came across this quotation below from Kim Kardashian. Though I can’t quite recall ever doing so in front of a notary or anything, I am certain I swore at least once that I would never mention that person aloud or in print. Sometimes bending your rules is, in its own way, as strong a statement as sticking to them. Or that’s my working hypothesis for the moment.
I should start by saying good for Kim, to make a big statement about nursing her babies. By far her finest hour in the public eye.
But I can’t quite get past these other statements of hers, about nursing in public. She said, “I still personally wouldn't do it, unless it was an emergency situation and I was fully covered.”
Again, my warmest blessings if you, dear reader, felt or feel safer or more comfortable feeding your baby privately, but I’ll just let that sentiment from the woman who broke the internet with her bare, oiled-up arse sink in a moment.
Okay, and the reason she gave? “Because I would be uncomfortable having all those people looking at me.”
America? AMERICA!!!! I know the hot topic today is the outcome of the Race of the Finks & Rotters in Iowa, but how can we ever expect to elect a competent leader or for that matter behave honorably on the world stage or save the polar ice caps when EVERYTHING IS ALL MESSED UP to this degree?
As a potential antidote to sliding down into a sinkhole of woe and despair, let me say that reading this gorgeous Margaret Atwood poem about February was the other highlight of my week, and did substantially more for my soul. I commend it to you. I wish we were having the kind of winter she was writing from, because I like winter and because I also like to imagine I brought my babies into a world where their babies will need mittens in January, and will not be learning about mittens from a digital encyclopedia that flashes a hologram of a mitten into their teeth by laser when they begin to wonder what they are. Oops! Slipped into the sinkhole again.
Though I do not share Margaret Atwood's entirely understandable and Canadian feeling that winter is the time to watch hockey, I feel really comfortable nodding along as she says it’s the right time to “think dire thoughts, and lust for French fries/with a splash of vinegar.” And I’m thinking that “Winter. Time to eat fat!” may be the cornerstone of my new t-shirt line. Sweatshirts, I guess. Or no: t-shirts, sadly. We can print it on a lightweight sleeveless tank.
Before I sink too deeply back into the hole under the sofa that I am digging to live in quietly all by myself, I’m going to offer you a little winter fat to bridge the transition from January’s green-drinks-and-yoga-all-the-time to Valentine’s Day. It’s a chocolaty treat and not half bad for you in health terms, provided you define them like I do.
Opinion among testers was sharply and neatly divided on the two fillings I tried the cookies with, and since they are both a snap to make I’ve included them both. I preferred the creamier one with a little tang. Others liked the denser, coffee-tinted one. Up to you.
Early in the voting, my friend said of her favorite, “This one is better!” and I pointed out, gently, that members of her own family both disagreed with and outnumbered her. “Yeah, well, but I’m smarter,” was her retort and there is no reason for me to tell you that other than that it made me love her more.
Truthfully that is what February, and all its other little monthy friends, need to get a handle on whatever the ambient temperature may be. Loving more. Maybe you will get a dose of that from this heartwarming story about a metalhead grandma reading aloud to shelter dogs. Maybe you will get it from this deliciously weird art project involving pom poms and anonymous apologies. Or if shortbread cookies will do the trick, then here you go.
A note about the chestnuts: super-convenient pre-roasted and peeled chestnuts are available in Asian markets (where I scored mine, above), as well as many places online and often at your local gourmet shoppe or healthe foode store, if you don't feel up to roasting and peeling them yourself, which is an admitted pain. If you do want to tackle that task, start with about a pound of chestnuts.
A note about the cocoa: I bet these would be really tasty without cocoa in the dough (you could replace it with an equivalent amount of any of the included flours); the contrast with the filling in that case would be really nice, I think. I was unable to test out this theory because I had already eaten a metric truckload of cookies and also I was out of chestnuts. But let me know if you gather any data. I'll be under the sofa.
chestnut sandwich cookies
inspired by these
makes about 30 cookies, or 15 sandwiches
the cookie part:
- 150g roasted, shelled chestnuts (see note above)
- 60g coconut sugar (or sucanat, or an equal mix of white and brown sugar would likely work)
- 50g sweet rice flour
- 50g oat flour
- 50g chestnut flour
- 10g unsweetened cocoa (see note above)
- 8T (one stick, half a cup) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1/2 t vanilla extract
- fat pinch of good salt
Place the peeled chestnuts in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until finely ground. Add the flours, along with the sugar, salt and cocoa powder, and pulse to combine. Add the softened butter and pulse until distributed; then run the machine (if your machine has a 'dough' setting, this is a good time to engage it) until the dough forms a ball on the blade. Dump the dough onto a sheet of waxed paper and form a 3" diameter log, as smooth and circular (or smooth and rectangular) as you like. Wrap snugly in waxed paper, and freeze for at least a few hours, or overnight.
When you are ready to bake, remove the dough log from the freezer and let it hang out on the counter while you heat the oven to 325 and line a baking sheet with parchment. With a sharp knife, slice the dough into 1/4" slices and place on the sheet. [They do not spread at all.]
Bake about 10 minutes, until they look just dry on the surface; the underside, should you happen to flip one, will be lightly golden. Remove from the oven and rest them on the sheet five minutes, then use a thin spatula to transfer them to a rack to cool completely.
Prepare your desired filling (see below); in either case, you'll want to let it cool a few minutes to thicken but not cool completely or it will be too stiff to spread. Portion among the cookies to make little sandwiches; get more love.
the filling part (#1)
- 100g (scant half cup) creme fraiche, at absolute room temperature with not a hint of chill
- 85g (scant half cup) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips or coarsely chopped chocolate
Have the creme fraiche ready and waiting in a small bowl. Place the chocolate in a separate small bowl over hot water, and heat until halfway melted; remove from heat and let the residual heat complete the melting process. When the chocolate has cooled somewhat, add it to the creme fraiche and stir until smooth.
the filling part (#2)
- 3T cream
- 1T hot water
- 3t instant espresso powder or other instant coffee-like item
- 85g semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips or coarsely chopped chocolate
Have the chocolate ready in a small bowl. Dissolve the coffee powder in the hot water and combine with the cream in a small heating vessel. Heat to a simmer and pour over the waiting chocolate. Let stand to melt the chocolate, then stir until smooth.