And - being a less enthusiastic cook then than I am now - I didn't see the point.
What changed my view was Laura Esquibel's Like Water For Chocolate, in which every chapter begins with a recipe, and each recipe becomes a character in the story. Esquibel made me see that there are many ways to tell a story, that there are strange and marvelous paths being forged all the time, and one of the paths into story is food. She awakened for me a wanderlust for new narrative techniques, and also, I think, an appetite for creative cooking.
And that made me just a little less apprehensive when The Feast of Saint Bertie's publisher suggested I let them print India's recipe for the cinnamon rolls whose aroma wound it's way between the words of my book.
So here's a delicious idea: I'll print here India's recipe, and ask you to share a favorite recipe you found in a novel.
So here it is:
INDIA'S CINNAMON ROLLS
Note from India: It's up to me to keep the author honest. When Kathleen tried this recipe, I shamed her into using free-range eggs-just look up how they treat the chickens that lay the eggs you eat in the morning and ask yourself if any of God's creatures deserve such cruelty. But Kathleen wrote "organic" all over the place just so I'd shut up. Still, it's true, you can even find organic shortening if you look for it, and it's better for you. I make cinnamon rolls with organic white flour to keep my customers happy, but it wouldn't hurt you to make them whole wheat. Kathleen did, and even she admits they were delicious.
Grease enough muffin pans to hold twelve cinnamon rolls.
1/2 cup hormone-free milk
1/2 pkg. yeast
3T organic shortening
1T organic butter
1/3 c organic sugar
1/2 t salt
1 free-range egg yolk, beaten
1 1/2 c sifted whole wheat flour, or, alternately, white flour
melted organic butter
1/4 c organic brown sugar, packed
2 t cinnamon
1/3 c organic raisins
1/3 c organic walnuts
1/2 c organic corn syrup
1/2 c organic brown sugar, firmly packed
1/8 c butter
Heat the milk to boiling, and allow to cool till it's just warm. Sprinkle yeast over top. Cream shortening plus 1 tablespoon of the butter; stir in 1/3 cup sugar and 1/z teaspoon salt. Beat together till light and fluffy. Add the egg yolk, the yeast/milk mixture and enough flour to make a soft dough. Knead on a lightly floured board. Roll the dough into a square about 1/4 inch thick. Brush the square with butter. Mix together the 1/4 cup of brown sugar and the cinnamon. Sprinkle the square of dough with this mixture, plus the raisins and walnuts. Roll the square of dough up like you're rolling a rug. Cut the roll into 12 slices.
Make the syrup by heating in a small pan 1/2 cup of corn syrup, 1/2 cup of brown sugar, and 1/8 cup of butter, till all are melted together. Pour a little of this mixture into each cup of your muffin pans. Place the slices in the muffin pans. Cover and let sit for an hour, or if you used white flour, till the dough rises to twice its size. Bake in a hot oven at 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes. Remove from oven, flip over the pans, and loosen the rolls. Then while the rolls are still upside down, lay the pan back over the tops of them, so the syrup will ooze into the rolls.
Now you go. I can't wait to taste what you have to cook.