Monday, December 23, 2013

Sugar Spun Sister by Anna Garner

Life isn’t exactly sweet for Cricket Whittier. Her boss hates her, her work is soul-destroying, and the sexy guy she’s hooking up with doesn’t want to date her. But this girl is far from hopeless. When Cricket’s in the kitchen with her ice cream maker and a few choice ingredients, her troubles slip away as she becomes a delectable dessert-designing powerhouse. She loves it so much, she dreams of opening her own ice cream shop one day.

As it turns out, “one day” just might be closer than she thinks. Propelled by the help and encouragement of her best friends, Lindsay and Nora, Cricket starts making plans to set up shop. Which is easier said than done what with the internal squabbling, the sky-high costs, her parents forecasting failure and her increasingly complicated love life. Despite all these hurdles, will Cricket be able to make her sweet dreams come true?

an excerpt:

The fact is I was feeling a bit sorry for myself tonight when I left work, so I decided to stop by Whole Foods. Why not treat myself to some nutritious comfort food? After filling up a take-out box with chicken casserole and steamed vegetables from the hot buffet bar, I wandered back toward the front of the store into the produce department. See if anything appealed. Oh, and something did.

I headed straight for the berry section and eyed the jewel-toned fruits spread out before me. It was a beautiful display, but sadly, the plump strawberries, bursting blueberries and beautiful blackberries brought Oscar to mind. He’s allergic to all types of berries. He’s allergic to loads of things, as a matter of fact—fruits, nuts, soy products, honey. The list goes on and on. I’d incurred his wrath once when I’d brought in a canister filled with cookies left over from a party. Oscar took one (after first verifying there was no ginger in them) but he’d only taken a couple of bites before his eyes widened.

“There are nuts in this?” He sputtered, while simultaneously spitting chewed up bits of cookie out in a paper towel.

“It’s made with almond paste,” I said in a small voice, not knowing if he was just being a drama queen or if it was something more serious.

“Almond paste! Are you trying to kill me?” 

And that’s when I first learned about Oscar’s many allergies.

Back in Whole Foods, I got a devious little thrill when I reached for a container of strawberries and one of huckleberries too. As if guided by some invisible force, I headed for the aisle where you can fill up your own bags of grains, nuts and legumes, and relieved the store of about one cup of pecans. Pursing my lips, I searched my memory for other things Oscar was allergic to. Ginger, of course! I headed back to the produce department and tossed a ginger root into my basket. And then I made a quick detour to the dairy aisle to grab a bottle of soymilk creamer as well as a plain soy yogurt (just in case) before making my way towards the register.

I should probably point out that it never once crossed my mind to actually kill Oscar or to harm him in any way. Well… all right. It crossed my mind but not in any serious kind of way. I’m not a total psychopath, I promise.

A couple of years ago when I moved into my cottage in Lower Pacific Heights, my brother got me an ice cream maker as a housewarming gift. It was a few months before I tried it out, but when I did, I was thrilled to find that making these sugary treats has a wonderfully relaxing and almost therapeutic effect on me. Since then, I’ve used it loads of times, experimenting with different ingredients to come up with my own unique recipes. And for whatever reason, tonight at Whole Foods, I decided to come up with a recipe based on some of the things my boss was allergic to. What can you do?

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The old grey donkey, Eeyore stood by himself in a thistly corner of the Forest, his front feet well apart, his head on one side, and thought about things. Sometimes he thought sadly to himself, "Why?" and sometimes he thought, "Wherefore?" and sometimes he thought, "Inasmuch as which?" and sometimes he didn't quite know what he was thinking about.

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