I am a firm believer in lifelong learning. Anyone who knows me can tell you I’ve participated in my fair share of educational endeavors. Long before kids, I spent my weekends sitting in front of a computer with my head buried in books, synthesizing information, answering questions, and typing papers, while my husband slid food under the door. Since we’ve had kids, my educational endeavors consist of personal interests like writing for kids, cooking authentic Indian food, or learning how to knit funky socks. As an educator, I see value in both. But most importantly, I see the value in knowing that our kids are watching me learn something new.
When I first told our kids I was going to take a class, not teach one, they were amazed. “How will you fit into the desks?” “Aren’t you too old to go to school?” “If you are a teacher how can you be a student?” The first few made me laugh, but the last one got me. I think teaching is one of the best ways to learn. Even though the subject matter may be the same, no class is ever identical to another and every semester I learn so much from my students.
I get frustrated and struggle at times, but I always remember that it is about how I react in those situations that makes for teachable moments. In fact, we were at the table working on a project and our son was starting to have a meltdown because he didn’t like the way his project was turning out. “Just roll with it. You are the artist so it can be anything you want,” my daughter says, as I smiled hearing my own voice echo in hers. I think they are getting it.
No matter how old I am, my kids will continue to see me learning. As Henry Ford once said, “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.” I really need to stay young.
This past weekend I completed a two-day food writing workshop. Our instructor and accomplished writer, Nani Power, did a fabulous job of not only broaching the subject of mining our personal histories to enhance our writing, but shared with us some innovative methods for looking at our emotional connections to food. Now don’t expect miracles, but I’m working on it.
So with the idea of learning in mind, we decided to experiment with an ingredient we never used before, rosewater. We all agree that this one was worth learning.
Rosewater Cardamom Biscotti with Pistachios
YIELD: approximately two dozen
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground cardamom seeds (We used a mortar and pestle to grind the seeds then sifted them into the flour mixture.)
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 teaspoons rose water
1 cup pistachios
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, sugar, baking powder, salt, cardamom, and nutmeg.
3. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the eggs and rose water.
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. Add the pistachios and knead the dough until incorporated, about 10 – 20 times.
6. 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.
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 #37: Push the ends through pre-drilled hole in a pumpkin to make an edible resting spot for the birds.