Life’s good surprises
Do you like surprises? For most people that depends. Usually life doles these out in good and bad doses, and I have had a couple of both recently. Take for instance walking into my garage last week to find a flat tire on my Jeep. Bad surprise. Then there was the shock of pulling open a tool drawer to find a trio of half grown mice scrambling into darker corners after I unwittingly revealed what they thought was the perfect lair. I almost had a heart attack with that jolt.
But then a few days later I came across a beautiful surprise. It was a day that was about 35 degrees outside, and the wind was blowing like it meant business. I hurriedly slammed the door behind me as I walked into my house after work, and was met with an intoxicating aroma that immediately put me in mind of a warm spring day. “Must be my imagination,” I said to myself.
And while this sweet intoxicant was a wafting one, it was consistent. Sometimes it was faint, but then there were periods where it was strong, like a bed of blooming spring flowers. I finally did a little investigating, sniffing my way around the house, and came across a plastic pot that had blown off my porch a few days before. It held three hyacinth bulbs, and figuring they would survive better indoors, I had placed them on an out-of-the-way windowsill.
Imagine my delight, and yes surprise, when my nose led me to this windowsill, where one of the three bulbs was blooming. Granted this blossom was a tiny one, and it did not at all resemble the magnificent flowers these bulbs produced last spring, but I was enchanted nonetheless. And for such a small specimen, it gave off a perfume that was as soothing as a gentle rain on a warm May day.
I buried my nose in this little bud, inhaling its intoxicating aroma, and marveled at its bravery to bloom when its kindred bulbs were shutting down, getting ready for the cold winter ahead.
Later on I decided to visit a friend, and walked in on her as she was pulling a pan of cookies out of the oven. Like my little hyacinth, they filled the house with an intoxicating aroma, and I couldn’t resist as she offered me a couple with a cup of coffee. As I bit into one, my eyes opened wide; they were beyond delicious, but there was a flavor in them I could not put my finger on.
“Oh these are my Cocoa Surprise Cookies,” she explained. “Marshmallows are the trick.”
She continued on, telling me that these were a favorite of her grandmother, who she had visited only a few days before. And then she extended a plastic bag filled with pumpkin seeds. “Here try these,” she said.
Another surprise! These were not your every day roasted variety, but they had a sweet and candy-like flavor that was immediately addicting. I could hardly stop eating them. Both recipes I’ve included for this week.
So I’ve come to the conclusion that most surprises are a good thing, especially when they come in the form of sweet smelling blossoms and good food. There’s no doubt these little gifts make life interesting, provided that is, if you can live through the ones that almost cause cardiac arrest. And I know a trio of baby mice that can testify to that.
Cocoa Surprise Cookies
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 tsps. vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup baking cocoa
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
2 cups miniature marshmallows, frozen
In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Combine the flour, cocoa and baking soda; gradually add to the creamed mixture and mix well. Stir in chocolate chips. Roll into 11/2 inch balls. Press two to three frozen marshmallows into each; reshape balls. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until set. Cool for 5 minutes before removing to wire racks to cool completely.
Sweet Pumpkin Seeds
seeds from one pumpkin
1 to 2 tsp. oil
1 to 2 tsp. salt
1 Tbs. brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
Remove seeds from the pumpkin and clean thoroughly. Place in a pot and just cover with apple cider. Boil for 10 minutes. Drain seeds and place in a bowl. Add oil, salt, brown sugar and cinnamon and mix thoroughly so all the seeds are covered. Spread seeds on a cookie sheet in one layer. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Bake seeds for about 10 minutes or until they are crispy but watch closely so they don’t burn.