I wrote a 50,000+ word manuscript in the month of November. In order to accomplish such a feat, I had to write an average of 1667 words a day. On November 1st, 1667 words a day seemed like quite a hefty amount, but by the time November 30 rolled around and I’d lived through a least one 7,000 word Saturday scrambling to catch up to my goal, 1667 words seemed a paltry sum. And I didn’t do all of this novel writing alone. My mom, as well as some 300,000 writers worldwide, also undertook the NaNoWriMo challenge.
Stories can grow in surprising ways. My novel, The Window of Cluttered Glass, is my first real stab at even thinking about writing any kind of fiction for at least a decade. And, sweet heavens above, my book turned out to be so very fictional. It’s a young adult fantasy novel, and there is another world, an extremely evil witch, souls trapped for 400 years in the unfinished stained glass Window of All Things. Also a smart-ass bird named Jacquemo who my protagonists, Roland and Adelaide, freed from the 400 year old oak tree that imprisoned him, and a visit to the Underworld for guidance. And I wrote this story, me, the girl who likes reading and writing genre-bending creative nonfiction the most.
Food happens in my book, fictional though it may be. Peanut butter and honey sandwiches, chili, and blood-soaked Wonder bread to lure the shades of the dead. And, best of all, the freshly-baked cookies that are offered to Adelaide by what appears to be the ghost of her dead mother. Here is an excerpt from the sprawling craziness of my first draft:
“Adelaide, look at me. Look at me! Your mother is not here, your mother is dead. You went to her funeral, and I went to her funeral. We watched her body going down into the ground. You loved her, and she is dead. You have to help me find a way to get out of here.”
Now that the door was closed, the only light was coming from a door behind them. Adelaide stepped into the light. And then Adelaide heard her voice, “I’m in the kitchen, Adelaide! Come see, they’re ready.” It was her mom’s voice.
Adelaide walked into the lit room, and there was her mother. She was standing in front of the oven pulling out a tray. “Mom?” Adelaide didn’t move.
“Of course, Addy, who else were you expecting? Here, try one. They’re still hot,” and Adelaide’s mom put a cookie into her hands. It looked like a brown cookie, and Adelaide stared down at it. And then she knew.
“You are not my mom,” she whispered at the thing that looked like her mom. And Adelaide’s mom started to laugh. “Oh sweetie,” she said. And then Adelaide’s mom grew smaller and smaller, until she turned into a black cat.
Adelaide looked down at the cookie in her hand. It was nothing but a dried clump of mud. She let it crumble through her fingers.
If such a ghost cookie did exist, a cookie that was offered to a girl in an attempt to gain control over her and keep her in a hostile place, that cookie would have to be made out of pomegranate. Because it was a pomegranate seed that passed through Persephone’s lips in the Underworld and gave Hades power over the woman he lusted for. Our winter days exist because Persephone ate that pomegranate seed.
As I teach my students every year, the Ancient Greeks were always chomping down on the wrong food. But unlike Persephone, Adelaide did not eat the pomegranate cookie, at least not in this draft.
I bought a bottle of pomegranate molasses last year after falling in love with a pomegranate eggplant dish at Fadi’s, a Houston area Mediterranean restaurant. And I just opened it for the first time to experiment with using it as an ingredient for ghost cookies. It’s really good stuff, intensely concentrated and tangy-sweet.
Pomegranate Molasses Ghost Cookies
You will need:
- 3/4 pound melted butter (1 1/2 sticks)
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup pomegranate molasses
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 ounces pine nuts or chopped walnuts
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a mixing bowl, combine the melted butter and the brown sugar. Separately, beat the egg with the pomegranate molasses and add to the sugar mixture. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt and mix into the sugar mixture. Cover and chill for an hour. Use a tablespoon to make balls that are slightly smaller than a golf ball. Roll the top of the cookies in the pine nuts or chopped walnuts. Cook for 8-10 minutes in the oven. Allow to cool before eating.
So, now I have 50,000 words of raw story material on my hands. It needs to be revised. Also, I’ve made this cookie recipe twice now, trying to solve the problem of the spreading square cookie outcome. The cookies taste great, but they spread into each other. This cookie recipe needs to be revised.