Winter Days and Cinnamon Pecan Butter Cookies
My curious, gold-rimmed hazel eyes dance about the barely green landscape hoping to catch a dragonfly as it bumbles about lone flowers and swaths of grass. Greens are traded for tall brown pillars as my eyes move up towards the sky following long gangly branches. I now look for a cardinal performing his majestic mating call and dance or perhaps a great white egret mid-flight.
Light, brisk winds carry waves of golden-brown leaves through the air. Their death, earlier in the season, is a meir trick as they appear more alive than ever, taking flight, trying to reach their old home high in the branches. Some red and green leaves catch my eye as they swirl around me in a vortex. I can’t help but smile.
A shuffle in the branches alert me to a pair of frolicking squirrels, mid chase. Sticks clack together as another brisk burst of wind shake the trees into their own majestic dance. Finally, my eyes dart up to the pristine blue sky in awe at the beauty of the blue canvas I haven’t seen for nearly two weeks.
The waving, flowing greens of the small greenbelt pull my eyes back down to the earth. The grasses, which never loose their green, still share beautiful, petite flowers. While far less bountiful than the colors spring or summer brings, I am still captivated by spots of surprising color hiding in a sea of wind-tossed green.
Each little yellow and red or pink and purple flower stands amongst the lonely green grass as if to say, “winter may be here with it’s cold, deadly touch, but it will never catch me.” My ecstasy-filled eyes finally find a suitable plot of flower-dotted land. I pull out an old, trusted blanket and let the wind flap it open. It dances, like the leaves caught in the cool air just moments earlier, before I pull and tease the blanket back to the earth. I open a basket, letting it share it’s hidden, edible gems. More ecstatic eyes join me, and soon smiles make way for tantalizing delicious treats.
We wrap up in more blankets and sweaters, and even light coats. We munch on deliciously crisp and buttery cookies and sip on warm black tea. We pretend the beautiful day is not cold but a wonderful warm summer day. We bask in our vacation from winter hoping this rare, sunny, blue winter day will signal more to come, but we know the rain and clouds will return as winter roars to life. And just as that thought begins to bring chills to our skin we run out of pecan-laden cookies and sweet warm tea. Dancing blankets are packed up; an empty basket is packed with dishes. We all say goodbye to the lovely day.
My lustful eyes hesitate, keeping me in place for a few more moments. The sun recedes behind the trees taking with it the last of the warmth from the day. A wave of floating leaves seems to follow the sun towards the horizon. Then the trees stop dancing. No more squirrels can be seen playing. A lone egret passes overhead once more but quickly disappears into a tree. Long shadows hide the colors of flowers and bright green grass. Suddenly, winter seems to have returned.
I finally say goodbye to this early winter day, ready to find solace in the warmth of my house where I will wait patiently for the next beautiful, winter day.
- 5 ounces unsalted butter, at room temp.
- 2½ ounces granulated sugar
- 4 ounces pecans, finely ground
- 4 ounces all purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 ounces whole candied pecans (I used cinnamon-dusted and honey-coated pecans)
- Preheat an oven to 375°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Process the 4 ounces pecans in a food processor until they are finely ground. Set aside.
- Mix together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in the ground pecans.
- Add the flour, baking soda, and cinnamon to the mixture and mix until a dough is formed.
- Roll the dough into a rope with a 1" or 1½" diameter. You may need to refrigerate the dough before rolling to firm it up.
- Refrigerate the roll until the dough is firm, about 1 hour.
- Slice the dough into ¼" - ½" thick cookies (roll the rope a quarter of a turn after each cut to keep a flat side from forming). Place the cookies on a baking sheet, leaving space for each to expand. Let them soften a bit, for about 15 minutes.
- Once softened, press the whole candied pecans into the center of each cookie, pressing each pecan all the way into the cooking until it reaches the baking sheet.
- Bake for 10 to 14 minutes until they are just golden brown.
- Let cool and store in an airtight container.