Monday, September 8, 2008

Mountainside With Caterpillars

I haven't been posting as often lately - I don't know what it is really; perhaps a bit of not-much-going-on-ness or even a bit of heaviness in the air. At times, stuff just pours out of me, other times...not so much. Then last week, I read this post and ding ding ding - I finally had a diagnosis: an emotional hangover. Not from anything specific really, just from a lot of little things I've picked up here and there - little pieces of baggage I'm programmed to pick up and carry for others. Emotional hangover, yes. I checked Pfizer's website already, by the way, and there is NO new pill for it. And no matter how many aspirin I take or who I call in the morning, there it is - this lingering emotional hangover.

Luckily, we live right at the base of a mountain (a Phoenix "mountain", that is) near a trailhead of miles and miles of hiking. Upon these trails, I sometimes lose that hangover for a while and - I SWEAR - the "writing" just POURS out in my head, just CRYSTAL CLEAR - and I get home, sit down to type it out - and what comes out is this: bleh, meh, blergh. It's gone. So, either my memory is shit - or my mind is creating its own fish tales. But still, those trails are an inspiring place.

On Saturday, I went on a long hike and about 30 minutes up the mountain I came upon what I can only describe as a "caterpillar migration". These caterpillars were yellow and black, ranging from about an inch long to three inches long - and there were hundreds and hundreds and HUNDREDS of them on the trail. I've never seen anything like it. All headed in one direction - downward-ish, north-ish - but I don't know where, exactly. I kept hiking - well, tiptoeing now, for the next quarter mile - with no visible end to the caterpillars.

Eventually, I decided to turn around because I was just too worried about stepping on the little creatures during their important journey, and tiptoeing wasn't proving especially enjoyable either. It was interesting to notice the other humans on the trail - some, like me, were also marveling at these little creatures - even taking pictures. Many, like me, were stepping carefully. Were the caterpillars aware we were stepping carefully for them? Probably not, but we did it for them anyways.

Am I always aware of those who step carefully around my path? Definitely not, but they do it for me anyways. I just want to say thanks, man - I try to do the same for you, even when you don't notice.

And then there were those who just trampled along carelessly, not bothering to notice whose path they might be trampling, traversing, crushing, altering, obliterating. It was right then I realized where my emotional hangover was coming from, where it always generally comes from, usually.
Human bulldozers. And, until someone makes a good pill for them or for us, we're totally stuck with the kind of humans who trample everyone's paths, you know? Frickin' caterpillar smushers - they are dead to me. And they give me the worst damn hangovers. And by the way, here's your baggage back - because it's just not mine to carry for you - nor for all that you smush out there in that world of yours.

So, I went for another hike today (Monday) and only saw a few caterpillars on the trail, but looked around at some of the foliage - and sure enough, I found some of them hangin' out on the Ocotillos and other desert foliage. Why they were ALL traveling in one spot, on one day, in one direction, at the same time, I've no idea - but it was a pretty cool sight to see, and I kind of cherish it. Man, they can ORGANIZE.

To further "melt away" my emotional hangover - bad pun warning - I decided to make some freakin' perfect looking late-summer cookies I recently saw from Martha Stewart. Tony loves the taste of lemon-lime (IF I can get him past chocolate, that is) - so when I heard the title Lime Meltaways - I was sold, almost purely on metaphor potential.

[See the bit of lime zest inside the cookie? Heaven!]

Lime Meltaways

These are just a lovely, lovely cookie. They are like a meltaway shortbread with a light taste of lime. They're slightly sweet and buttery - yet, they're very light and easy, and they definitely have a "meltaway" quality. Many people suggest this as a holiday cookie as well, and I could envision adding any flavor to this recipe such as almond, cinnamon, cardamom, or whatever. I brought them into work, of course, and *boom* - they were gone and lusted after (guys really seem to like lime, anyone notice that?). They're quite darling little cookies too - great for a party.

3/4 c. unsalted butter, room temp.
1 c. powdered sugar
finely grated zest of 3 limes
2 T. fresh lime juice
2 T. vanilla extract
1 3/4 c. + 2 T. AP flour
2 T. cornstarch
1/4 t. coarse salt

Using electric mixer, whisk butter and 1/3 c. powdered sugar in bowl on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Add lime zest, juice, vanilla - mix until fluffy. In another bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, salt - add to butter mixture and mix on low speed until just combined.

Divide dough in half. Roll each half into a log 1 1/4 inch in diameter. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350F and have baking sheet lined with parchment. Cut logs into 1/4-inch thick rounds and place slices on baking sheets 1-inch apart. Bake until barely golden on bottom of cookie, about 13 minutes, rotating the sheet 1/2 way through. Transfer cookies to wire rack for cooling, 8-10 minutes. While still warm, toss cookies with remaining 2/3 c. sugar in a plastic bag (or bowl). Cookies can be stored in airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks. ENJOY!


John D. said...

RE: Human bulldozers.

Amen sistah. : )

Last week, there was a spider about the size of a tennis ball outside my coworker's office, which caused a bit of mass hysteria. The girls were screaming, "kill it!, kill it!"

Nope. Can't do it. I scooped him up on a piece of paper and relocated him in the great outdoors. : )

As always Ann, your goodies look SCRUMPDIDILICIOUS! - YUM! : )

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed this post. It was deep, and well written.

...or my mind is creating its own fish tales.

I love that line.

Welcome back!

Brittany said...

Great post Ann, and you are Too Punny..(mwah hah hah.)

I love Martha's lime meltaways, they're just so zingy.

Clumbsy Cookie said...

Oh dear! I feel like going all the way to Phoenix and giving you a big hug! Human buldozers... I think you've put it very well...
Since I'm going all thE way across the world to give you a hug, do you mind baking one more batch of those adorable looking cookies for me to taste?!

Anonymous said...

Oh Ann... sister after my own heart... our thoughts have paralleled. I too have felt a bit run down. The exhaustion from all the waiting and hoping on the adoption... the fact that we must simply wait longer... the worry that we will wait forever... I'm with you.

The cookies look very yummy indeed.




Email me your address, silly girl.

Anonymous said...

Well, it must be the moon phase or something because I can't tell you how many human bulldozers I've run into lately. I'm not kidding.

Loved this post. Very timely for me.

mimi said...

awesome post. and i love these lime meltaways. somehow when i made them though, i totally overloaded on the confectioners sugar!

MonkeyGirl said...

I wish I had a mountain to climb to get some clarity! Human Bulldozers just suck!

And I understand the guy/citrus connection. I made a batch of lemon cupcakes (gasp) from a box and the guys wouldn't stop eating them. 3 guys polished off 24 cupcakes in about 48 hours!

NV said...

Human bulldozers ... MonkeyGirl and I have another name for them: RUDE COWS!

Wish you'd shot the caterpillars -- with your camera, that is. Those cookies sound awesome. I love lemon/lime goodies.

hungryandfrozen said...

I am scared of caterpillars like you wouldn't believe (especially in close up...aaaaaarrrgh) but your story was touching all the same. Human Bulldozers - such a good way of describing it.

The cookies look delicious, I'm amazed you were able to bite one and put it down again to take a photo!

Gigi said...


Great post, as I wipe my tears away! I spent the better part of my day being mowed down by a "human bulldozer". Tomorrow, I will dump all her baggage on her desk. Thanks for the "pep talk".

P.S. I heart lime melt-aways, but I am bias because I used to be a girl scout. I used to horde boxes of them.

Anonymous said...

great looking cookies!! and lime meltiness sounds fantastic!

grace said...

powerful post, ann. leave it to you to make me stop and think. and drool. your cookies sound great. :)

Real Live Lesbian said...

What a great post! You're right about the bulldozers. I much prefer catepillar-tip-toers in my life. :)

I want to eat your cookie. And I mean that.

Adam said...

I think we all know what you mean about the hangover stuff... because we're all pretty caring people.

I'm glad you took therapy into you own hands and released it, great job!

Oh and guys and lime? Yeah, I think you're right. I really enjoy a diet sprite now and then. Guys and vanilla though... look into that one. I think it's genetically programmed :)

Ann said...

John: Aw, I relocate insects all the time, so I'm right there with ya!

Morton: Thank you, darlin'! :)

Brittany: You're Punny - you made me giggle!

CC: Hugs and cookies and whatever else comin' your way, oh and a plane ticket too, huh?

Lacy: I emailed you. No words for how quickly I want everything to line up for YOU. :)

Meagan: Maybe it IS the moon or planets, bc it sure seems ubiquitous, huh?

Mimi: Thanks! Aren't they YUM?

MonkeyGirl: WHAT is it w/ dudes and lime?

NV: RUDE COWS indeed! Ugh.

Laura: I consumed that damn cookie so fast after the pic, I don't even recall tasting it. :)

Gigi: Aw. You DUMP IT, girl! It feels good, huh? I'm sorry to hear that you too have run into a big bulldozer. Ick.

Diva: It was delish!

Grace: Stop, think, drool - wow, I totally like that right there - it could be my tag line!

RLL: You crack me up, you naughty kitten!

Adam: Oh yes - guys and vanilla. AND guys and chocolate! And guys and......well...never mind.... :)

Anonymous said...

Down with the haters and the bug smooshers. I hate bugs of all kinds and even I wouldn't kill a migration of fuzzy catepillars. Or how ever you spell it.

Hang in there, and tell those emotional vampires to SUCK OFF.

RecipeGirl said...

These definitely sound good.

We lived in a house once where that very same caterpillar thing happened every year. My 2 year old thought it was the coolest thing. Little caterpillars cruising by the hundreds across our yard... only we knew their destination- our fence, where they attached themselves and spun themselves into butterflies. It was such a cool sight. And it was very tough to not squish a few when walking across the yard!

Lisa said...

Ladybugs! We had about 7 million of them attach to the west side of our house one year - they must have thought it was the side of a cliff or something and they just hung out - crazy beautiful!

Oh yeah, and citrus anything - divine!

A_and_N said...

Lovely post! I really liked these cookies because their 'finish' doesnt look like regular cookies. I bet they really melted away :)

Leonor de Sousa Bastos said...

When I saw these cookies at tastespotting I couldn't resist to take a closer look... Definitely they look delicious!

Jennifer S said...

I'm glad I could provide a ding ding ding for you, and I'm glad you've worked your way out of the funk. The caterpillars sound peculiar and quite amazing (though 3 inches long freaks me out a bit).

I'm glad you could see them, and that it gave you such some clarity.

MamaGeek @ Works For Us said...

I love your writing as much as your photographs. I, too, loathe Human bulldozers and caterpillar smushers. I feel ya.

Anonymous said...

Wow, your vivid description of your hikes made me feel like I was actually there! Nice to have good trails nearby to emotionally rejuvenate. Lime meltaways work well for that too :-)

Anonymous said...

Hey, next time you see a caterpillar migration let me know. My kids would probably get a kick out of that...and I know they can handle the AZ mountains or hills? :)

Letting go is essential, so I'm glad you are not going to carry those bulldozer's loads anymore. Be free my friend!

Manager Mom said...

Wow. the caterpillar migration sounds amazing...and I would have tried to tiptoe, just like you did. But I feel a teensy hypocritical because I would have tiptoed for the caterpillars, but if we had a spider situation I would have gotten out my clown shoes and trampled as many of those puppies as I possibly could. Because fuzzy caterpillars = cute, while furry spiders = panic-inducing hysteria. For me anyway.

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Purple Laptop said...

I love your writing! I came for one recipe then spent an hour reading them all, just for your words :)

I love the recipe-- but -- being diabetic I avoid sugar and use Splenda. I avoid white flour, too. Can I use whole-wheat flour instead?

Ann said...

Thank you so very much for such a *lovely* comment! I've never tried whole wheat flour with this recipe, but I really don't see why it wouldn't work. If you do try it, please let me know how it goes :)))!