Our daughter is the animal lover among us. Her curiosity about creatures big and small is unbounded. She is specifically concerned about what animals feel, especially as we are eating them which makes for interesting dinner table conversations. I can’t count the number of times I’ve said, “I don’t know how a crab feels when you put it into a pot of boiling water. I’ve never talked to a crab.” Yet, she is deathly afraid of bees. She runs in the house screaming, all the while I am imaging someone lost an eye or a bear devoured a small child in the backyard.
Praying mantises, ants, lady bugs, and butterflies are her friends. She will rescue any stink bug we find in the house and “send it back outside to its family.” We’ve pulled up chairs in the driveway and held vigils for partially crushed caterpillars. Just this morning she picked up a cicada we found on the sidewalk and moved it onto the grass so no one would step on it. Although in all honesty it wasn’t moving and I am quite sure it was already “unhealthy.”
We are all about facing our fears through desensitizing. One day when our daughter was very young, she was running down the hall and noticed the dust bunnies following in her wake. She thought they were alive. She started running faster, which of course made the dust bunnies move faster. Soon the dust bunnies were on her heels and she was a screaming lunatic. Once we all calmed down, we had a chat about the fact that mommy doesn’t always vacuum the floors as often as she should. Then the two of us came up with a plan. We went around the house collecting as many dust bunnies as we could find and put them in a plastic container with a tight-fitting lid. She seemed to feel better once she knew they were confined. For several months after that, she continued to pick up dust bunnies from under beds or behind doors and add them to her collection. Once word of our plight go out, a few people send us dryer lint and bundles of dust bunnies. While she is older and no longer afraid of these furry looking tumbleweeds, the dust bunny collection still sits in a plastic container on her shelf, as if she is waiting for it to wink at her as she knew it always would.
So in the same vein, when her fear of bees surfaced we decided to learn as much as we could about bees. We took a trip to the local nature center, where they have an active bee hive on display. We talked about all the ways that bees pollinate plants and flowers. We read books. And I mentioned that those flavored honey sticks she loves so much would not be possible without bees. So as part of our desensitizing, we decided to make some of our own flavored honey, inspired by the recipe for lavender honey in the book, Edible DIY by Lucy Baker. The honey was so good, we decided we also needed biscotti to dip in it.
Orange Lavender Biscotti
YIELD: approximately two dozen
2 ½ cups flour
¼ cup finely ground cornmeal
1 cup and 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 ½ teaspoons double-acting baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons dried lavender buds
2 eggs and 2 egg whites
½ and ¼ teaspoon orange extract
zest of one orange
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place the rack in the middle of the oven.
2. In a large flat-bottomed bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, salt, and lavender.
3. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg whites, 1/2 teaspoon orange extract, and orange zest.
4. With a rubber spatula, stir the egg mixture into the flour mixture until the dough just starts to come together. Dust your hands with flour and knead the dough in the bowl until all the ingredients are incorporated and the dough is tacky.
5. Separate the dough in half. Form two logs, approximately 3 inches wide and 1 inch high on a parchment lined baking sheet. Leave several inches between the logs, the dough will spread as it bakes.
6. Mix 1/4 teaspoon orange extract and 1 tablespoon sugar in a small bowl. With your fingers, firmly press and spread the mixture on top of the logs.
7. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes, or until the tops begin to crack or split. Transfer logs to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
8. Transfer biscotti logs to a cutting board. Slice the biscotti on a diagonal and place cut side down on the same parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for an additional 20 minutes, turning the biscotti once halfway through. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.
What to do with the ends #15: Use the ends as golf tees.