Since we've been talking about stroufflers and memories so much around here lately, I thought I'd make this a Sample Sunday and post a passage from my eBook Fractured Facade, covering both...
"When we got back to the “fake” home, Josephina brought over some home-baked Italian fig cookies. They reminded me of my mother. Nothing said Christmas more than the warm comforting smell of my mother’s cookies baking. One of the few times we didn’t fight was when we stood side by side mixing dough. My mother might not have taught me anything academically, but she taught me how to cook and bake. Our favorite Christmas tradition was making stroufflers together.
Mom would create a well in the center of six cups of flour, and crack six eggs into it saying, “If you don’t mix it by hand, it won’t come out right.” We’d take turns kneading the yellow dough until it became smooth and shiny. Fistfuls of dough were grabbed and rolled into long snakes on a cutting board. With a quick moving knife small pieces were cut. Each pillow mint shaped piece, hundreds of them, would be fashioned into a small ball and dropped into a huge pot of hot oil. They bobbed on top of the surface, tossed and turned by a slotted spoon, until they turned a light golden brown. A brown paper bag was the best way, and according to Mom the only way, to sop up the excess oil from each ball. Another huge pot filled with honey and sugar simmered on the stove. Each ball would be dumped into the honey, and with a wooden spoon my mother gently stirred. Once covered with honey, we’d ladle the balls into a huge glass bowl, one of the many bowls that had disappeared sometime after mom died, and sprinkle them with rainbow nonpareils. It would take all day to make one batch, which barely lasted through Christmas Day.
The last time my mother and I made stroufflers together was the year I discovered you shouldn’t put cold water into hot oil to clean the pot. The stains from the explosion remain on the kitchen ceiling. As I looked at the spotty ceiling, recalling my messy mistake, I remembered that day was also the last time I got hit with the wooden spoon, a honey-covered one. Whispers of red fuzz from my sweater had mingled with the colorful candies still left on the spoon. It hadn’t hurt physically -- it was more of a tap -- but the quick strike damaged our kitchen relationship. I swore I would never bake with my mother again. I never did. I wish I had."