Back on that horse

What I love about skiing near Seattle – more than hurtling myself downhill, or eating Cup Noodles at lunch, or the piny scent wafting through the air (and certainly more than Popsicle toes) – is how far being on a mountain seems from everyday life. Spending a day inside a snow globe two hours from home may seem normal in mid-February, but driving up from the Emerald City on the first day of the season, where my lawn is still green, it feels like entering a new dimension.

It’s a good thing. Other things fall away: My house is not dirty. I have no Christmas shopping to do. Deadlines do not exist.

Coming from Seattle, where snow rarely falls, the adjustment to a ski area’s wintry wonderland can also be a bit of a shock. Last year, I balked at having to go through all the season’s rediscoveries at once, instead of adjusting to the idea of winter slowly, all through November and December, like I could in Boise or Vail or New England.

Today we went to Stevens Pass, and it pounced on me again, that surprise fourth season. My mind reeled. Wait, we’re going to stay outside all day in a 24-degree snowstorm? We might die.

We didn’t, of course. When the lifts opened, we optimistically qualified the snowpack as “corduroy,” and screamed down before the crowds arrived, thrilled at being alive. But by 2 p.m, we were skiing through someone’s five o’clock shadow, feeling renegade rocks claw at the bases of our skis, and the 400 mg of vitamin I I’d ingested with my coffee had left my system.

I collapsed into the car, tossing a sprig of rosemary someone handed me through the window a few days ago absentmindedly up onto the dashboard. I folded into the warm seat like a bar of bad chocolate, melting before my time. As my husband guided us home, the defroster jetted heat onto the windshield, right through the rosemary. The whole car filled with its calming scent, pure edible Christmas, and I slept hard.

I woke up in Monroe, and by the time we pulled into the driveway, I was ready to face chopping rosemary again. (These biscotti are the gift I started to make yesterday.)

By the way, the finger is looking better. It’s always a bit of a let down when what seems like a life-altering gushing wound turns out to be only really half your fingernail sliced away. I mean, I’m glad I still have my finger, don’t get me wrong. I was just feeling the dramatic vibe yesterday, wondering in vain how I’d ever be able to seriously shake the pointer at a bad child if said digit healed up without a nail. But I’ve downsized my E.T. finger bandage from about a yard of fabric to just a little square of gauze and a couple Band-Aids, so the drama’s gone. It will heal, and I’m pretty sure the nail will grow back eventually.

Pinenut-Rosemary Biscotti 2

Pine Nut-Rosemary Biscotti (PDF)
Recipe 343 of 365

Made with a combination of regular flour and chestnut flour, these biscotti have an earthy, nutty flavor, perfect for dipping into a peppery black Chai tea. If you can’t find chestnut flour, substitute a cup of all-purpose flour.

TIME: 30 minutes active time
MAKES: About 30 biscotti

1 cup pine nuts
1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for forming biscotti
1 cup chestnut flour
3 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper (optional)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 large eggs
1/4 cup whole milk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or silicon baking mat), add the pine nuts in a single layer, and toast on the middle rack for about 5 minutes, or until lightly browned and fragrant. Transfer the nuts to a cutting board to cool, and set aside. Return parchment paper or silicon mat to baking sheet and set aside.

Meanwhile, place both flours, rosemary, sugar, baking powder, salt, and pepper in a large mixing bowl, and whisk to blend. If needed, use your hands to break up any clumps in the chestnut flour.

In another bowl, whisk the oil, eggs, and milk together until blended. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, mix until well combined, and stir in the pine nuts.

Flour a large work area, dump the dough onto the flour, and dust the top with a bit more flour. Using floured hands, divide the dough into two pieces. Working with one piece at a time, form into two flat logs about 2 inches wide and 12 inches long, adding flour as needed to prevent your hands from sticking to the dough and the dough from sticking to the counter. Transfer both logs carefully to the parchment-covered baking sheet, about 3 inches apart, and bake for 30 minutes, or until firm to the touch and just beginning to brown.

Remove the biscotti from the oven and decrease the oven temperature to 300 degrees. When the biscotti are cool enough to handle, carefully and gently transfer them to a cutting board and use a serrated bread knife to cut them into 3/4″ wide slices on a diagonal.

Transfer the biscotti back to the baking sheet, cut side up, and bake for 40 to 50 minutes, turning the biscotti over halfway through baking, or until browned on both sides and quite firm. Cool completely on wire racks. Store in an airtight container up to 2 weeks.

Pinenut-Rosemary Biscotti


Filed under Cookies, recipe

2 responses to “Back on that horse

  1. Beth

    Don’t worry the nail will grow back. A few years ago, I closed my finger in the car door. The whole thing came off (the nail that is, not the finger), but it eventually grew back…

  2. Ellie

    I LOVE your description of the end-of-day ski exhaustion. I had my first day Saturday and it was all I could do to walk up the steps to my apartment after the drive home.
    I can’t wait to try your bread pudding recipe. Reading here always makes me hungry.

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