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What Flavor is Love?
by Eddy Robey
Life has ups and downs for everyone. Those who care for us
do their best to celebrate the ups and ease the down times with
hugs, smiles, and treats. Can you recall the tastes which meant
comfort and love in childhood? There were family visits accompanied by
coffee cake, happy dinners with baked apples or rice pudding for
dessert, and the various ailments during which we were soothed by bed
trays holding cups of sweet tea and rugelach. Our most tender
memories are flavored with cinnamon.
With the first stirrings of adolescence comes a susceptibility to
commercial messages. This is when the candy makers tell us that love
tastes like chocolate. No more those happy morsels made from scraps of
pie dough sprinkled with cinnamon sugar; only elaborate
chocolate chip cookies will do.
Ad budgets being what they are, the gentle supportiveness of cinnamon
treats doesn't stand a chance. Chocolate becomes equated with romance
and passion in elegant gold boxes. Never mind that these things
are made by machine; fools spend their money on mass-marketed
love, and imagine that their gifts are meaningful.
Yes, those beribboned ballotins impart a message. They say loud and
clear that the recipient is only worth the time it takes to throw a
few bills on a counter, or place a telephone order. How paltry beside
the caring labor of hands which make and serve apple dumplings, or a bread
pudding with plenty of plump raisins.
During February, the nights are cold and bitter. There is no better
comfort than hot spiced cider, but there are many who will come in
from the shivering weather and try to get cozy with chilled Champagne.
How sad, to choose a chemical reaction over genuine warmth.
Real love doesn't come wrapped in fancy paper or awash in alcohol. Why
don't you try a compromise? Take a lovely walk under the winter stars,
then come in and get homey with some cocoa and cinnamon toast. There
is no treat more guaranteed to evoke memories of gladness. Perhaps,
you will create the sort of lasting joy you truly desire.
This mixture is so versatile that no kitchen should be without a
supply kept ready to use. It is easy to make, and keeps for a long
The signature ingredient is Cinnamon, so it is important to use the
real thing. By that I mean Saigon Cinnamon, which costs more, but
makes a large difference in flavor. Won't any Cinnamon do? The answer
is no. Most Cinnamon sold today is from Mexico, a different spice than
the one from Asia, and not nearly so aromatic. Yes, I know someone
will tell you the generic stuff is "perfectly good", but
have you noticed that phrase is never applied to anything which is
first-rate? Saigon Cinnamon does not have the slightly bitter tinge of
the Mexican variety, and can take more cooking before acquiring the
metallic taste for which commercial bakers compensate by using
Another caution about Cinnamon or any other spice. If you've had it
opened for six months, throw it away. Spices should be bought in small
quantities, because freshness does matter. Whatever you do, don't keep
them over the stove or in one of those horrible display racks, which
are diabolically designed for spoilage. Store spices out of the light,
and far away from any source of heat. I keep mine in a cool kitchen
drawer, with little peel and paste labels on the lids, so they'll be
easy to identify.
1 cup Brown Sugar
1 cup Flour
1 cup Powdered Sugar
1 cup Walnuts or Pecans, toasted and finely chopped
1 cup softened Butter or Margarine
1 tablespoon ground Cinnamon
Place all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Using an electric
beater or a large spoon, work them together until the mixture clings
in clumps. Place the mixture in an airtight container, and refrigerate
for up to one month, or freeze for up to six months.
Some Things to do with Streusel
Crumble over the top of any muffin batter before baking. If you fill
the muffin cups only half full, and are generous with the Streusel,
you will have miniature coffee cakes.
Pour the batter for anything such as Banana Bread into a square pan,
rather than a loaf-shaped one. Crumble the Streusel on top, and bake
Thaw a large sheet of frozen Puff Pastry, and cut in 8 pieces. On each
piece, place half of a peeled, cored Apple, some raisins, and 2
tablespoons of Streusel. Press the pastry to seal into packets, and
bake at 375 degrees until dark golden brown for Apple Dumplings.
Grease a square ovenproof-glass baking dish, and fill halfway with
fresh-cut fruit. Crumble Streusel over the top, and bake at 350
degrees for about 30 minutes, or until bubbly.
Roll a batch of biscuit dough into a rectangle. Spread with any flavor
of preserves, sprinkle with Streusel, roll into a coil, and slice.
Place the slices next to each other in a greased pan, and bake at 350
for 30 minutes.
Slice one Banana for each person you want to serve. Put them in a
greased dish, and sprinkle with Streusel. Bake for 15 minutes at 375