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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.


Cinnamon Streusel
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 time.

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 additional sugar.

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 as directed.

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 degrees

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