Now that there's not a 70 to be found in the ten day forecast, I think I'm safe in saying that Fall has finally arrived in New Jersey. It is the best season of the year, for not only is it time for school (yes, I'm a nerd), it's cool out, and that brings out the beautiful leaves, as well as good, warm things to eat and drink. That's probably the greatest reason I like Fall—because it's time to drag out the good spices, like cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, etc., with which I love to bake things.
In fact, this afternoon as I was heating up some apple cider, I dropped some cinnamon sticks and some whole cloves in. As I did, I was reminded, as I always am, of a conversation with millinerd about what the medieval church used to help people understand theology. In a time when reading and writing was very rare, other means were used to teach the tenets of faith. In this case, cloves are a wonderful object lesson, for whole cloves look like nails. These clove-nails were used to remind the faithful of the crucifixion. It is a wonderful object lesson, because not only is it a visual one, but the very distinctive smell and taste of clove serves as an even greater sensory experience.
It is such a great sensory experience, that now whenever I open the cloves (which is fairly often, because it is my favorite spice), I instantly think of the crucifixion. It's an experience for which I'm glad.
Here's my favorite recipe involving cloves (although, of the ground variety). It's from my grandmother's German grandmother. I like to take them out just when the tops crack, and then dip them in powdered sugar. And you can tinker around with the spices as you like—e.g., I like to add extra cloves.
Sugar & Spice Cookies
- 3/4 cup shortening
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup molasses
- 2 cups flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 3/4 teaspoon cloves
- 3/4 teaspoon ginger
Mix the first 4 ingredients together.
Sift other ingredients together and stir into other ingredients.
Form into walnut-sized balls. Bake 10-12 minutes at 350.