Thursday, June 10, 2010
Eggless Butter Cookies
If you miss the 'feel good' factor of those books or if you miss that world of enchantment or if you bemoan the fact that no one writes such stories for adults, then A Redbird Christmas by Fannie Flagg is a novel you should waste no time and read.
Faced with a bleak prognosis from his doctor of his rapidly worsening emphysema, 52 year old Oswald T. Campbell has no option but to leave the harsh Chicago winter and head to some place warmer in order to prolong his life.
He lands in the southernmost part of Alabama - in picture perfect Lost River with its neat little bungalows, bushes of flowers in every yard and streets canopied by fat oak trees. A place where the weather is warm and sunny even in the peak of winter, where the community of just 80 people live in perfect harmony with each other.
Living amid the amiable people, in a temperate climate and eating delicious, hot meals served by his landlady, Oswald soon starts to feel a lot better. He goes on to build a fine camaraderie with the mailman Claude Underwood who delivers the community's mail (on a boat), the heart broken Roy who runs the only general store in the town and the widowed Frances who helped Oswald find his lodgings in Lost River.
But the one person he is especially close to is Patsy, an undernourished, crippled girl who lives with her foster family on the fringes of Lost River in a trailer park. The foster family habitually neglects her and Patsy spends most of her time at the store with Jack, the injured and therefore flightless redbird rescued by Roy.
Soon, the townspeople, including Oswald, find themselves involved in Patsy's well-being.....
The ending was a bit too far-fetched for my liking and the characters in a 'too good to be true' mould - I mean, imagine a town that doesn't even have people gossiping occasionally at street corners or when they meet in the general store!
In the hands of a lesser author, the story could have easily degenerated into something extremely maudlin and sentimental, but Fannie Flagg, with her inimitable style and wit, leaves the reader engrossed till the very last page.
So, if you can suspend disbelief and stow away cynicism, then this book will leave you with a smile on your face and a warm, fuzzy feeling. It will make you believe that sometimes, life does give you second chances.
But most importantly, it will create in you a longing to go and spend a few idyllic days in a place as beautiful as Lost River.
Just before I started reading the book, I had baked a batch of these eggless butter cookies - cookies that were made out of a recipe adapted from Fannie Flagg's Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe (and yes, I will confess, that was the book I originally intended to review and hence the cookies).
The aroma of the freshly baked cookies wafted through the house and I blissfully nibbled on the flaky, buttery and crumbly cookies as I flipped the pages of the book.
Eggless Butter Cookies
All purpose flour: 1/2 cup
Whole wheat pastry flour: 1/2 cup
Baking powder: 1 tsp
Baking soda: 1/8 tsp
Salt: 1/2 tsp
Sugar: 1/4 cup
Butter: 1/4 cup
Buttermilk: 4 tbsps
Vanilla essence: 1/4 tsp
Butter essence: 1/4 tsp
Sift all the dry ingredients twice.
Cream the butter and sugar till pale and creamy. Add both the essences to the butter-sugar mixture and beat a further 2 minutes. Then rub it into the dry ingredients till the mixture resembles bread crumbs.
Add the buttermilk, a tbsp at a time, till you get a firm dough. I needed 3 tbps of buttermilk.
Chill for an hour in a plastic wrap.
Pre-heat the oven to 200 deg C. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
Roll the dough to 1/4 inch thick. Using cookie cutters, cut out to desired shapes. Bake for about 10-15 minutes or until the edges start to turn golden. Cool completely before eating.
Our book club turned two years this month; Fannie Flagg was the author Simran picked to celebrate the second anniversary. The book club has its own blog now - This Book makes me Cook - hop on there to check what the other members read and were inspired to make. You could also leave a comment there if you want to read and cook with us.
It is not just about the ingredients or the recipe, good food happens when it is served with love!!