God She Works in Mysterious Ways

 

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Rhea – FKA Ancho Antwerp Walden Hill

Her name was to be Ancho Antwerp Walden Hill (long story) and we were to pick her up at SFO on Friday, October 25 at 1:30 p.m.  Now she lives in Maine and is instead “Rhea.”  Her given name when she was born near Fairplay, Colorado, was Baby Ruth.

Being totally bonkers about our 9-year-old Aussie, Oakley, (check out Andy’s funny/clever video on today’s Andy’s Corner!) we were (I was?) bound and determined to have another dog with her bloodline.  There had been some serious discussions amongst friends and family about whether an 8-week-old puppy was something we really needed.  House too small for 2 dogs?  Check.  Puppy too active for two older people?  Likely check.  Oakley pretty bent out of shape?  Check.  Two Siamese cats unwelcoming?  Two checks.

Fortuna intervened.  According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, Fortuna is often represented bearing a cornucopia as the giver of abundance and a rudder as controller of destinies, or standing on a ball to indicate the uncertainty of fortune.  Andy wrote a nice bit about Fortuna on Andy’s Corner a while back.

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Fortuna – as depicted in this Vienna statue

On Wednesday, October 23, PG&E declared they were shutting off power in our area due to extreme fire risk (another long – and not happy – story).  Our neighbors were vacationing in Hawaii, and we were caring for their place, so Andy and I decided we needed to check on their generator (we really should invest in stock in generator manufacturers given the number that have been sold in our area in the last 2 years).

Did you know that every few years oaks produce an overabundance of acorns?  This appears to be one of those years for Northern California.  Joan Morris, a local wildlife columnist, explains, “Scientists still aren’t certain why oak trees produce massive amounts of acorns on a semi-regular basis. They know that the weather makes a difference, but it’s not recent weather, rather weather from a year or two earlier.”  She continues, “Scientists also believe that oaks might reserve their energy, building up to a massive release of acorns as a way of self-preservation. By putting out fewer acorns some years, the trees may actually be keeping in check certain populations of animals that eat the acorns. Then, when the oaks do mass produce, the acorns stand a better chance of becoming trees because there are fewer animals to eat them. As it is, only about one in 10,000 ever become trees. The others are eaten before they can establish roots.”

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Did Fortuna, as the giver of abundance, provide us with these acorns?

Long story short – winds had blown tons of acorns off their oak in the week since our friends had left their home for their Hawaiian holiday.  Andy and I dodged the acorns successfully for a bit, but then I came rushing down their backyard hill, stepped on a spot particularly loaded with those little slippery things, slid, fell, landed with my ankle twisted underneath me – and badly broke it.  Sh*t.  Actually, I may have said something worse.

I should have read this bit from Scott Aker, head of Washington DC’s National Arboretum, before heading out that day: “Clearing your garden of tenacious acorns can be a chore…acorns are sort of like ball bearings or marbles.  If they get on walkways, we try to be very conscientious about clearing them. We don’t want anybody to break a leg. I would caution your readers to pay attention to that. Try to get them off walkways as early as they can. It may be a daily chore.

Our agonizing decision had been made by the time I had surgery on my ankle, Friday, October 25.  Ancho, instead of arriving at SFO that day, was now on a flight to Maine, not San Francisco.  And Andy and I came home – along with my walking boot and crutches and the prospect of 8 “non-weight-bearing” weeks – to a one-dog household.

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Is Oakley sad that Ancho didn’t join our little Glen Ellen familia?  Maybe yes; likely no.  Is Andy sad that Ancho didn’t join us?  Maybe yes; likely no.  Note: photo taken just before October 25.

Was it just bad luck when I fell on the acorns?  Was it Fortuna intervening in my life and the life of little Ancho Antwerp Walden Hill?  Should I be comforted by this statement regarding Fortune?

Luck – good or bad – never lasts.

And now on to recipes.  At first I was going to post a recipe using Ancho chiles – but then decided that a more fitting recipe would put acorns at the forefront.  TENACIOUS ACORNS!  Andy found this recipe when he did this blog.  These cookies are delicious.  BUT – it’s almost impossible to find acorn flour.  And I don’t think you’re going to want to make the flour yourself (see these instructions from Mother Earth News).  So if you don’t have it, simply substitute almond flour and the cookies will be gluten-free and delicious (though golden, not chocolate brown).

Acorn Cookies

Acorn Lace Cookies

  • Servings: makes approximately 16 cookies
  • Print
If you do not have acorn flour on hand you can substitute 2 1/2 T almond flour in lieu of the acorn and wheat flours. Alternately, for acorn glucose-free cookies you can leave out the wheat flour and add an additional 1/2 T acorn flour.  Adapted from a recipe by Wendy Petty.

Ingredients

  • 2 T butter
  • 1 T heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • zest from half an orange
  • 1 1/2 tsp flour
  • 2 T acorn flour
  • pinch of salt

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 F, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a small pan, melt the butter over medium heat.

Add the cream, sugar, and orange zest.  Stir to combine the ingredients, then increase the heat to medium-high, and let it bubble for 2 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the flours and salt.

Let the mixture stand until it is solid but not completely cool.

Make the dough into teaspoon-sized balls (more like lumps to me) and place them onto a small sheet of parchment paper (you should get about 16 lumps of dough give or take one or two).

Place 6 of the balls onto the parchment covered sheet pan, allowing plenty of room for them to spread as they bake.  Do not try to cook more than 6 at one time.  Bake the cookies for 8 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through cooking.  Watch them very carefully over the last two minutes so they don’t burn.  When fully cooked, the cookies will be a deep caramel color (if using acorn flour) and shiny.

Remove the cookies from the oven and let then sit on the sheet pan for at least 2 minutes before handling.  Once you can slide a spatula under them without deforming their shape, they can be transferred to a cooling rack.

  Note: if you do not have acorn flour on hand you can substitute 2 1/2 T almond flour in lieu of the acorn and wheat flours.   Wendy Petty’s recipe brought to you by Big Little Meals and Andy and Ann.

 

 

 

10 Comments

  1. tricia53 says:

    Oh, Ann, I”m so sorry! We have buckets of acorns this year, too. Eight weeks non-weight-bearing is going to be maddening! Do you have a knee scooter, or do you have to use crutches?

    Like

    • Robert Briggs Carleton says:

      Agreed! Sure hope you heal quickly! Certainly a good thing that your property is level and there are no steps in the house (wink, wink). Even better is that your help-meet is outstanding in capability and compassion.

      Like

  2. Robert Briggs Carleton says:

    Only 3 1/2 tablespoons of flour in total? Against a quarter cup of sugar and all the other ingredients? I might try this, but am really concerned about the apportionment of ingredients.

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    • theRaggedys says:

      Andy here: The proportions should be correct. It is actually fun to watch how the little balls of dough that go into the oven are transformed into delicious, beautiful, crunchy, and yes, lacy cookies. They are one of my favorites. I usually make a double recipe because they are eaten up so fast. Be sure to use parchment paper and not waxed paper like I accidentally did on my first try – it was quite a mess. Let me know how yours turn out should you give it a go.

      Like

  3. Charlene Warne says:

    Oh no, Ann! So sorry to hear not only about your ankle, but also that your little pet-to-be is now living in Maine. Hope you have a full and speedy recovery.

    Like

    • Kathy Hunter Eddleman says:

      Ann— so sorry to hear about your fall and break! I am four weeks into recovering from knee replacement surgery so can totally relate. Hope you heal well and fast! Kathy Hunter Eddleman

      Like

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