Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Poe's "The Raven" and Maple Pecan Shortbread
Ooh, I loved reading everyone's comments from yesterday. I've got a giant list of spooky books for future reads. Many of my readers claimed to be too faint of heart for scary literature. I myself am a world class chicken, deathly afraid of spiders, monsters, and bad guys. I don't watch any of the slash em' up thrillers that play in today's movie theaters. I will watch some Hitchcock, and the rare PG scary movie. Now, that being said, I love a suspenseful and spooky read; not a murderous blood and guts dime store novel, but a classic book with macabre undertones. I love having the shivers when I know that I'm safe. And my love extends to frightening poetry as well as novels. Which brings me to today's Cookie Bookie read: "The Raven" by Edgar Allen Poe.
This summer, I read a biography on Poe. He was quite an odd duck, just as you might have suspected. He was passionate, morose, and fickle. Once he composed a beautiful love poem for his young wife (a cousin he married when she was all of 13 years old), and over the course of his lifetime, presented it to several different women that he admired. Of course, he was saavy enough to change the name, the lady-killer. But when Poe was writing "The Raven," he knew he was on to something. The poem was years in the writing and editing, but through it all he sensed that his magnum opus would cast a public light on his eerie genius. The poem recounts the midnight visit of a talking raven to a downcast lover, mourning the loss of his beloved Lenore. The lover, provoked by the raven's constant reminder of "Nevermore," sinks to madness by the poem's end. This is Poe at his finest, in superior command of the language, and embracing all of the mysterious themes that earned his reputation for being one of the most disturbing and talented poets of the Romantic era.
Here's the first stanza for you to nibble on.
Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
`'Tis some visitor,' I muttered, `tapping at my chamber door -
Only this, and nothing more.'
Every year I vow to memorize "The Raven." I'm lucky if I know the first stanza, but every October, I keep trying.
To read the poem in its entirety, click here.
And now, since we are so civilized as to be reading poetry, I thought I could share a sweet that is equally as elegant. Today's cookie is a buttery maple shortbread studded with bits of pecans. It's just perfect for dunking in a cup of apple tea, by the fire, with a blanket over your knees and a book of poetry on your lap. Get cozy and get reading!
Maple Pecan Shortbread
Estimated Cost: $2.50 for a dozen
1/2 cup softened unsalted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon maple extract or almond extract
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup chopped pecans, plus whole pecans for top
beaten egg for brushing tops
Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl, cream butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Stir in maple extract. Add flour and salt to form soft dough. Stir in pecans. Roll out dough on a sheet of waxed paper. Cut cookies into 2 inch circles and place on cookie sheet. Brush tops of cookie lightly with egg and place pecans in the center. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes.
Come back tomorrow for more Cookie Bookie