I slowly savored my sliver of the raspberry galette as he told me stories of the Russian physicist
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but mostly how different materials behave in the presence of magnetic fields
“Now you see I'm writing a paper about all of this, and there's a colleague over in Russia I've been exchanging emails with. He claims to have broken a record, though, between you and me, I think the darn thing just blew up, and he's not saying”
He and his wife, neighbors for the past few years, though it wasn't until this past weekend at a dinner party did I finally have the chance to chat with him
I smiled as he so eloquently segwayed into the condo they own in downtown Chicago, all of the renovations the city's made to the neighborhood where he went to college (wait, my husband studied there too!), and where to find the best sake in the city.
Oh, and did I know there's a very nice woman in town, one can call if you don't know what to do with a litter of raccoons whose Mom had gone MIA?
As I slowly made my way home that evening, the air was thick from the heat of the day, the crickets were singing, and lightning bugs twinkled across the grass.
I couldn't help but think of her
A few lifetimes ago, when I commuted to, and worked in an actual office in downtown Des Moines. The woman, a consultant, who'd been hired to run the IT projects that really mattered to the company.
Smart tailored suits, very thin, hair slicked into the perfect bun, small wire-rimmed glasses, and a shiny red Hermes bag. My eyes would always follow her long, graceful gait as she'd enter a meeting, this butterfly of power as she fluttered into the room
I'll never forget the day, it was terribly early in the morning, and I was stunned to witness what she pulled out of her bag(!) Nope, not her usual manila folder with contracts, project plans, and documentation. Instead, her knitting needles, and the partially finished afghan she was making for her brand new niece
She sat in her cube, and knitted a few rows, while sipping her latte, and making calls for updates to her projects
“What a cool life, and the people who occupy it.”
Over the years, I've thought about her off and on. The gentle reminder not to dream of having it all, because we already do. We're friends and wives, mothers, and daughters. We can have careers, hobbies, and some really bad cooking days.
Some weeks we can go to yoga, or mostly we can just wear yoga pants. We can be healthy eating foodies, who sometimes get sad and eat too many cookies. We can put great love into the casserole made for a friend in need, and find ourselves testy after driving it across town.
We can be women who radiate serenity and peace, yet fight back a tear as a curious kitty spills our bowl of beans all over the kitchen floor
We can also be powerhouse consultants, who knit something pretty on our 7 am calls with Minneapolis
I catch myself sometimes, wanting to compartmentalize other people, I suppose because it seems like the best way to understand them. When I catch myself, I'll instead stop and focus on finding the curious and quirky side-streets of their personalities.
A woman at book club who's a fierce feminist, and stay-at-home mom. She dons her apron to make three meals a day and picks up her kids at the pool with hot rollers in her hair
A sweet friend I coached, who ate healthy gourmet meals throughout her day that is with the exception of breakfast. She loved to start her days with mac & cheese (from the blue box!), and she wouldn't so much as add gouda
The men in my life who are engineers and scientists by trade. In the evenings they enjoy a bottle of home-brew from the keg in the basement, while shooting a game or two of pool. Or maybe they'll put on their headphones, and watch the scary movie that arrived via Netflix.
Once a month they also happen to get together with 30-40 other guys for .. Gentlemen's Night.
This past weekend, as I caught up on my physics, my husband was there, with his pipe, something cold and fizzy, eating smoked pork. The place? One of our favorite places to buy meat (and dog biscuits!)
It's always fun for me to send along cookies to these manliest of events, and these have certainly made an appearance
They're perfectly sweet and crisp around the edges. With pockets of chewiness and lots of nuts. A perfectly delicious, gluten-free treat.
I love the simple combination of oats, pecans, and cherries baked with cinnamon, but you could also add an element of surprise with the zest of an orange or if you're in the mood, a handful of chopped chocolate
ps: The secret to a really good cookie? Let the dough rest 72 hours before baking your cookies
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~ Adapted from Sprouted Kitchen
Oat, Cherry, and Pecan Cookies
- 1 ½ cups toasted pecan halves, divided
- 1 ½ cups rolled oats, divided
- ¼ cup brown rice flour
- ½ tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ¼ cup coconut oil, melted but not hot (or olive oil)
- 3 Tbsp brown rice syrup
- 2 Tbsp maple syrup
- 1 Tbsp vanilla
- ½ tsp fine-grain sea salt
- ½ cup dried cherries, unsweetened (if they're large, halve them)
- Preheat oven to 325° F
- Roughly chop or break up 1 cup of the pecans into medium to large pieces and set aside
- Place the remaining pecans and ½ cup of the oats in a food processor, and process until finely ground (~ 30 seconds)
- Transfer to a medium-sized bowl and add the remaining 1 cup oats, brown rice flour, baking powder, and cinnamon. Stir to combine
- In another bowl, whisk together the oil, brown rice syrup, vanilla, and salt.
- Pout into the oat mix and stir to combine
- Mix in the chopped pecans and cherries
- Shape the cookies into mounds that are approximately 3 Tbsp in size and place them on a baking sheet. Press each cookie lightly to flatten the dough a little bit
- Bake for 15 minutes, or until the edges are golden or lightly browning
- (The cookies may not look done when they come out of the oven, but they'll firm up as they cool)
- Remove them from the oven, and set aside to cool for 10 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack