Recipe: Nearspace “Solanto” Cookies

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This is Cerevare, but you knew that, right?

If you’ve read Dark Beneath the Moon, you might have noticed references to solanto cookies made by the Lobor historian, Cerevare Brindlepaw, when she’s on the Tane Ikai. They’re described as “…crunchy…brown-sugar-sweet…filled with roga-nut spice from Renata and drizzled with a sweet glaze.”

Sound delectable? Yes, I thought so, too, when I dreamed them up.

(Funny story as an aside: I was invited to attend a book club meeting one time, when they discussed the first Nearspace book, One’s Aspect to the Sun. The only real complaint they had with the book was that there wasn’t enough food in it, because their custom is to make food from whatever book they’re discussing and bring it to that meeting. Ever since, I make sure there’s food in my books. You have to listen to your readers.)

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So back to the cookies. The idea of figuring out the recipe has been simmering (pun intended) in the back of my mind for a while, but recently I felt ready to try it out. Now, unfortunately, I don’t have access to roga-nut spice from the planet Renata, and I suspect you don’t, either. However, the recipe below uses a reasonable facsimile, and these are just about how I imagined Cerevare’s cookies.

(They also appear in the draft of the newest Nearspace book, still under construction. Apparently Cerevare taught Rei how to make them, when I wasn’t looking.)

If you’re feeling like a literary treat today, give them a try! The recipe makes about 18 cookies and should double up just fine if you want a bigger batch.

Cerevare’s Solanto Cookies

Ingredients:
1/2 c. margarine (I like an olive oil type, but any will do.)
1 c. brown sugar, lightly packed
1 large egg
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
pinch of salt
1/4 c. chopped pecans (you could also use walnuts, or leave out the nuts altogether)
Optional glaze: A few tbsp. icing sugar and a bit of milk

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Method:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream margarine and brown sugar until smooth. Mix in the egg and vanilla–don’t over-beat, just combine it all. In a smaller bowl, stir the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt together. Add the dry ingredients to sugar mixture all at once and mix just until everything is incorporated. Dough will be on the soft, wet side. Stir in the nuts.

Shape into balls and place on a cookie sheet. I used a 1-1/2 tbsp. ejecting scoop for this and it made them the perfect size. The cookies will spread out and flatten as they bake so leave lots of room between them on the cookie sheet.

These actually turned out to be a little close. If you don't want them to spread together, space them more than this!

These actually turned out to be a little close. If you don’t want them to spread together, space them more than this!

Bake for 8-10 minutes, until edges have started to look a bit crisp and wrinkly, but center is still soft. They should be a nice golden brown with darker edges. Take them out of the oven and leave them on the cookie sheet for a minute or so, then remove carefully (they’ll still be somewhat soft) to a cooling rack.

They’re delicious with or without the glaze, but Cerevare does glaze them in the book. So if you’re inclined, mix up your icing sugar and milk (a slightly thicker glaze stays on the cookies better) and drizzle it on once the cookies have cooled a bit. (See above picture).

Serve them up with your favorite caff, chai, tea, or other hot drink, whether it be earthly or interstellar.

IMG_5022Let me know if you try them, and how they turn out!

The Power of Books–and Writers

IMG_5005-cropIf you’re like me, you’ve been saddened and horrified at the crisis in Attawapiskat, Ontario. The thought of these young people with so little hope for the future, that children as young as ten years old would contemplate suicide, is a terrible one.

And if you’re like me, you feel helpless to do anything about it. Most of the problems in the country–in the world–are too big, too overwhelming for individuals to contemplate. No-one can help everyone. We can donate our time and money to organizations who might provide assistance, but beyond that, it’s hard to imagine being able to do anything on a personal level.

However, the youth in this isolated community have identified some things that they feel would help their situation. And one of those things is a library.

As a writer, I know the power of a library to change lives; when I was young, our local library was one of my favorite places, and I know that I have become who I am today partly because of those books. They took me places and showed me things that helped to shape my life. I think that all children should have the opportunities that libraries offer: to read, discover, learn, escape, and imagine. I’ve been a library volunteer at a local elementary school for over ten years, and stayed on long after my own children were gone from the school, partly because of that belief.

And now, instead of simply reading stories, I tell them, too. So today I acted on an idea that popped into my head a couple of days ago. I packed up a few of my titles and mailed them to the Attawapiskat First Nation. I told them, in my letter, that I hoped the books might form part of the library they want to build.

It’s a small thing. But even though, as I said above, no-one can help everyone, we can each help someone. And so I’m challenging other Canadian writers to do the same as I’ve done. I’m sure that many of us (probably most) have extra copies of our own books, ARCs, or promotional copies filling shelves, filing cabinets, or boxes. Imagine if we all picked out something appropriate and sent it off with a word of encouragement.

The power of books. The power of libraries. The power of writers.

Imagine.

The address is: Youth in Attawapiskat, P.O. Box 248, Attawapiskat, Ontario, P0L 1A0

Connections

bridgesThe other day I wrote here about not being really keen on marketing and promotion, and for the most part, that’s true. However, I was thinking afterward about a side benefit that sometimes goes along with promotion, and that’s connecting. Connecting with readers, connecting with other authors, connecting with others in the industry. And that part, I do like.

Over the past number of weeks, I’ve been very fortunate to forge some new connections, particularly with other authors, through these promotional efforts. In the Rogues bundle from Tyche Books, I’ve been in the company of Rebecca Senese, Michael Wallace, Daniel Arenson, Jamie Grey, and Edward W. Robinson. In the Middlings Bundle, I’m sharing space with Anthea Sharp, Michael Warren Lucas, Michael A. Stackpole, Dean Wesley Smith, Blaze Ward, Mindy Klasky, Leah Cutter, Kristene Kathryn Rusch, and Daniel Keys Moran. And tomorrow evening I have a Facebook chat for Dreaming Robot with Dianna Sanchez and Susan Jane Bigelow. Some of these authors I already knew from various places like the SF Canada listserv, Twitter, or Second Life, but others are new connections, and for all of them, I’m grateful. One never knows where new connections will lead or what might grow out of them.

I don’t mean that I look on all these connections only from the point of view of how I might profit from them–not at all. I might be able to help someone else. Maybe they might benefit from something I share. I might learn something I didn’t know before, something that could be large or small and is valuable either way. I might just expand my network of friendly, fun, interesting, and helpful people–someone new to trade jokes and banter with on social media or get book recommendations from. And I might only bask in the reflected glory of having my name linked, even in a minor way, with writers who are far more luminescent than I.

Okay, yes, that last one sounds maybe just a little self-serving. I can live with that. ;)

When I look back at the trail of connections and interactions, especially in my writing life, that led eventually to something unexpected and wonderful, I feel quite amazed. We do so many things without any idea of where they may lead us. This is one reason I always encourage newer writers to become “immersed” in the writing world, whatever that immersion looks like to them. Writing groups (face to face or virtual), workshops, courses, critique groups, convention panels, speaking opportunities, professional organizations, library or school events, or whatever else may come up, say yes whenever you can. The connections you make can be one of the best parts of the writing life.

And I’ve found more great things to read in the course of the recent process. A not inconsiderable benefit all by itself.

Photo Credit: nicksumm at morguefile.com