05 February 2010

Sweet Expressions of Love - Fortune Cookies


The Written Word

Love blooms from beautiful expressions. Tradition tells us that Valentine’s Day commemorates the occasion when St. Valentine, jailed under harsh rule in the Roman empire, cured his jailor’s daughter of blindness. He did this by sending her a note about God’s love which her eyes miraculously opened to read. The expression of love sent by Valentine bore wonderful healing power.

I believe it is the same today. Words of love, personally confessed in writing, possess a special charm. They have the power to heal wounds, to bond affection and to celebrate a relationship in indelible terms. A letter written in one’s own hand is personal, perhaps even intimate, revealing a glimpse into the heart of the one who writes.

As Valentine's Day approaches I begin to think of some of the most famous words of love, lines from Shakespeare, the Romantic Poets, the Song of Solomon and other wonderful sources of quotes that are so worthy of sharing with those we hold dear. Though not our own original work, sharing the perfect romantic quote can also be a special acknowledgement of love. We are not all writers but we can all appreciate a perfectly chosen word offered at the perfect time or in a creative way, especially by someone we love.

I also adore the romantic accessories that suggest the written word. Think of quill pens and parchment paper and the flickering flame of candles burning low. I think of rugged hands making flourishes in ink as their script runs across a page. I think of Joseph Fiennes and his ink stained fingers writing words of love to Lady Viola in Shakespeare in Love.

Fortunes of Love

Sometimes fortune offers these tokens in unexpected places. A few years ago I shared a wonderful dinner with my husband while we were in Oxford England. Hungry from the journey, when we arrived at our hotel we asked where we might order dinner. The hotel clerk recommended a restaurant just down the street, Shanghai 30's.

To the back and up the stairs of a 15th century building along St. Aldates we found ourselves in a well appointed 1930's style lounge, complete with Victrola and pipe stand. We were soon seated in an elegant room with dark wood floors and an intricate ceiling at a table dressed with a white tablecloth. We ordered dishes that were presented with tremendous attention to detail. We enjoyed shrimp rolls that were served on a breadcrumb beach resting under carrot stick palm trees and sesame crusted King Prawn Toast snared in a green onion net. The food was as beautiful as it was delicious.


After dinner fortune cookies were brought to the table to be chosen from an ornate chest. Mine read, "Your path is arduous but will be amply rewarded." The receipt was presented with a nib pen and inkwell for signing. What romance! It was an exquisite surprise, delightful and wholly unexpected when we arrived at our destination hungry and simply hoping for an adequate meal.

While fortune cookies aren't always a culinary delight they do add a touch of drama to a meal. With a creative presentation and carefully selected fortunes they can add romance as well. If you make your own you can add fortunes worded according to your own inclination. A carefully composed fortune nestled within a freshly baked and folded circle of sweet dough will make these cookies the perfect punctuation to conclude a romantic dinner, a thoughtful and creative Valentine token, or simply a sweet surprise.


Personal Expression

To make your own Fortune Cookies, the first step is to choose your fortunes. If you are inspired or creative, compose your own. If not, borrow. It is easy to find quotations on every topic from friendship to love or romance with a quick Internet search. Some of my favorites are:

"My beloved is mine, and I am his"
~Song of Solomon 2:16

"Grow old with me! The best is yet to be."
~ Robert Browning

"I've fallen in love many times... always with you."
~Author Unknown


"Love is not love that alters when it alteration finds."
-Shakespeare

"I never knew how to worship until I knew how to love."
-Henry Ward Beecher

"The richest love is that which submits to the arbitration of time."
-Lawrence Durrell

“If love is blind, why is lingerie so popular?”
Anonymous

“Love is the thing that enables a woman to sing while she mops up the floor after her husband has walked across it in his barn boots.”
~ Hoosier Farmer

“I feel that there is nothing more truly artistic than to love people”
~ Vincent van Gogh


Then choose a pretty piece of paper, maybe parchment or other good quality stationery. If you have nice handwriting I encourage you to write out the fortunes by hand using a fountain pen if possible.


First trim your paper into strips that are ideally no more than 4 inches long and 1/2 inch wide. (If you need longer strips to write out your message you can fold them in half. ) If you don't want to write them out yourself print them out on your computer using a calligraphy font and trim afterward.

Next gather the ingredients needed to make the cookies... as well as a fair dose of patience. Light a candle. Turn on a romantic playlist and enjoy crafting the cookies. They must be made a few at a time as they set up quickly and must be folded with speed while they are still hot. I made mine one by one as I tried to take photos along the way. Three would be the most I could imagine handling at once.


Fortune Cookies

1 egg white, at room temperature
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pinch salt
1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup white sugar

Prepare fortunes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter a cookie sheet or other flat pan. (I sometimes use mini pizza pans, baking one cookie on each pan.)

Stir together the flour, salt and sugar. Set aside.


Beat the egg white with the vanilla until foamy.

Fold the flour mixture into the egg white.

Place level tablespoonfuls of the batter on a cool prepared pan, one tablespoon for each cookie, placed at least 4 - 5 inches apart. Swirl the batter by using gravity as you carefully tilt the pan or by using the back of a wooden spoon to spread it into circles approximately 3.5 - 4 inches in diameter. The more round and even the circles, the better. (In the beginning don't try to make more than 2 - 3 cookies at one time.)


Bake at 400 degrees approximately 5 minutes or until the edges turn golden.

Remove from oven. Remove the cookie from the pan with a wide spatula and turn it upside down on a wooden board.


Working quickly, place a fortune in the middle of the cookie and fold the cookie in half. (This step is best accomplished wearing cotton gloves or very snug fitting oven mitts as the cookie must be shaped while it is still hot. They set up quickly as they cool.)

Then turn the cookie over the edge of a bowl or measuring cup to form the crease in the center.


Pull the ends together and set the warm cookie in the cup of a muffin tin until it cools and becomes firm.

Once cool, these can be drizzled or dipped in chocolate, if desired, or served plain.

Enjoy!

5 comments:

grace said...

lisa. this is outstanding. do you hear my applause for your efforts?
personalized, homemade fortune cookies have to be the most clever and wonderful valentine's day treat ever. i love the quotes you picked out, too. the one by the hoosier farmer is quite apt. :)

Cathy said...

What a great post, Lisa. You've inspired me to try my hand at making fortune cookies. This would be a wonderful and fun treat for a special occasion.

noble pig said...

Okay this is quite the perfect Valentine, so full of love and expression.

Ivy said...

Oh, how did I miss this post! Super cuuuuute! I love things you can personalize like this and for a cookie that looks complicated, it looks pretty do-able. Thanks, you!

Robin Sue said...

Lisa this is such a great post and not just for Valentine's day but for any day. Two weeks ago I just saw Shakespeare in Love for the first time, it was great! I really like all of your love quotes.