The clock was still saying five minutes to eleven when Pooh and Piglet set out on their way half an hour later. The wind had dropped, and the snow, tired of rushing round in circles trying to catch itself up, now fluttered gently down until it found a place on which to rest, and sometimes the place was Pooh’s nose and sometimes it wasn’t, and in a little while Piglet was wearing a white muffler round his neck and feeling more snowy behind the ears than he had ever felt before.
“Hallo, Eeyore,” said Christopher Robin, as he opened the door and came out. “How are you?”
“It’s snowing still,” said Eeyore gloomily.
“So it is.”
“Yes,” said Eeyore. “However,” he said, brightening up a little, “we haven’t had an earthquake lately.”
By Virginian standards, this winter has been tremendous. Most of the places I have lived provided a sense of predictability in regards to the weather. Germany offered cold, snowy winters and breezy, cool summers. Florida’s pendulum swung between periods of warm winds and muggy rains. Texas was so awful I have forgotten it completely. Virginia, however, must be just south enough and just enough north to never really know where it is, offering a wonderful unpredictability when it comes to every season. In my twelve years here, I have never seen so much snow in one winter.
This snowy season has been an adventure with interesting discoveries: One, we do not own a shovel – something that might be useful in getting to one’s vehicle. Two, I don’t actually own proper gloves for a real winter, but I do have a wonderful selection of hats. Three, even if Little Man’s socks are soaked and mittens soggy, he will throw a loud and flailing tantrum when I carry him back inside from playing in the snow.
Once we are indoors and warmed through, we find various activities to occupy the little mind and busy hands. Then something magical happens in the afternoons: He tires. Not tired enough to nap, yet just enough where his little limbs find comfort as they sink into the couch and chubby fingers curl around neck of a small stuffed giraffe. And so we are, during the quietest part of the day, piled under soft blankets with a stack of books, completely immersed in a world of childish wonder and imagination.
A few afternoons ago, as the snow hovered down softly, we began The House At Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne. The first story in the book follows Pooh and Piglet as they build a house for their friend Eeyore in the midst of a snow storm. I laughed aloud at Eeyore’s brand of optimism and for the first time sympathized with a timid little pig. We finished our story time and with new energy Little Man began to make soup with a pot and wooden blocks. I reheated some coffee and I felt the urge for a little smackerel of something.
What could be more perfect than Honey Madeleines for our snowy day at Pooh Corner?
These madeleines are superbly moist and sweet with the floral richness of honey. While they are fine at room temperature, they are best warm, right out of the tin. I could never confess how many I immediately devoured – it is quite embarrassing. I should be ashamed of myself.
Makes 18 Madeleine Cookies.
¾ cup Unsalted Butter, at room temperature, cut into pieces
1 tablespoon Unsalted Butter, melted
1 cup All-Purpose Flour, plus extra for the madeleine tins
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
3 large Eggs
¾ cup of Sugar
3 tablespoons of Honey
Brush the madeleine tins with the melted butter and dust with flour then tap out excess. Set the tins in the freezer.
In a bowl whisk together one cup of flour and the baking powder. In a separate bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat together the eggs, sugar, and honey until pale yellow. Add the butter, one piece at a time, beating constantly. On low speed, gradually add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture. Set the bowl in the fridge to rest for one hour.
Preheat oven to 375°F. Remove the madeleine tins from the freezer and the batter from the fridge. Give the batter a quick stir and then place heaping spoonfuls into each madeleine mold. Don’t worry about the batter touching all the edges as it will spread while baking. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 – 15 minutes, the edges should be golden brown and the tops of the madeleines should spring back gently when touched.
Cool on a wire rack until the madeleines are cool enough to handle. Remove from the tins and serve at once.
– Recipe from The Essentials of French Cooking by Williams-Sonoma, with additional explanations.
Excerpts from The House At Pooh Corner by A. A. Milne.