Sunday, May 17, 2009

Walnuts and Pumpkins: a story & a recipe

Nasreddin Hodja was lying in the shade of an ancient walnut tree.
His body was at rest, but, befitting his calling as an imam, his mind did not relax. Looking up into the mighty tree he considered the greatness and wisdom of Allah.

"Allah is great and Allah is good," said the Hodja, "but was it indeed wise that such a great tree as this be created to bear only tiny walnuts as fruit? Behold the stout stem and strong limbs. They could easily carry the pumpkins that grow from spindly vines in yonder field, vines that cannot begin to bear the weight of their own fruit. Should not walnuts grow on weakly vines and pumpkins on sturdy trees?"

So thinking, the Hodja dosed off, only to be awakened by a walnut that fell from the tree, striking him on his forehead.

"Allah be praised!" he exclaimed, seeing what had happened. "If the world had been created according to my meager wisdom, it would have been a pumpkin that fell from the tree and hit me on the head. It would have killed me for sure! Allah is great! Allah is good! Allah is wise!"

Never again did Nasreddin Hodja question the wisdom of Allah.

I love Nasreddin tales!
Sometimes called Nasreddin or Mulla Nasreddin or Nasreddin Hodja and a host of other name and different spellings but by any name Nasreddin tales are always entertaining and subltly educational.
For more information click here to go to Wikipedia's Nasreddin page

Walnut and Pumpkin Drop Cookies

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 cup solid pack pumpkin puree
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup fresh or dried cranberries
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon orange zest
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Grease cookie sheets or you can line them with parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

Beat in vanilla, egg and pumpkin.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon; stir into mixture until well blended.

If using fresh cranberries cut them in half otherwise stir cranberries into mixture along with the orange zest and walnuts.

Drop by teaspoonfuls onto cookie sheets.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Cake is Mine!....a Korean folk tale

Once upon a time an old man lived with his wife.
One day, after he had held a service in memory of his ancestors, one of their neighbours sent them a present of some food.
He sent them cooked rice and vegetables, but only one cake.
They were unwilling to divide it, and so they agreed that the first to speak should forfeit the cake.

So they left it on the table, and sat gazing at it in silence.

Just then a thief broke into the house, and when he saw the old man and his wife sitting there in silence he concluded that they must be blind and deaf.
So he calmly helped himself to everything he could find, and then began a violent assault on the old woman.

But her husband just sat and watched in silence.

At last his wife could stand it no longer.
She shouted at him, "You heartless old man! You sit there quietly while this fellow beats me!"

Then the old man said, "The cake is mine," and coolly popped it into his mouth.

Friday, May 1, 2009

A Musical Moment....

Merrie Melodies cartoon featuring "Tales from Vienna Woods" (Geschichten aus dem Wienerwald, Op. 325) with Bugs and Elmer followed by the "Blue Danube" (An der schönen blauen Donau, Op. 314) by Johann Strauss.