being is having


The Room
Galway Kinnell
The door closes on pain and confusion.
The candle flame wavers from side to side
as though trying to break itself in half
to color the shadows too with living light.
The andante movement plays over and over
its many triplets, like farm dogs yapping
at a melody made of the gratification-cries
of cocks. I will not stay long.
Nothing in experience led me to imagine
having. Having is destroying, according
to my version of the vow of impoverishment.
But here, in this brief, waxen light,
I have, and nothing is destroyed. The flute
that guttered those owl’s notes into the waste hours
of childhood joins with the piano
and they play, Being is having. Having
may be simply the grace of the shell
moving without hesitation, with lively pride,
down the stubborn river of woe. At the far end,
a door no one dares open begins opening.
To go through it will awaken such regret
as only closing it behind can obliterate.
The candle flame’s staggering makes the room
wobble and shift- matter itself, laughing.
I can’t come back. I won’t change.
I have the usual capacity for wanting
what may not even exist. Don’t worry.
That is dew wetting my face.
You see? Nothing that enters the room
can have only its own meaning ever again.

Pumpkin cupcakes


Nothing special to say about these. After I made pumpkin-stuffed snickerdoodles, I was left with some pumpkin and decided to use it up by making pumpkin cupcakes. I frosted these with plain chocolate buttercream to which I added a bit of cinnamon.

Pumpkin cupcakes
1 1/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of cloves
3/4 cup canned pumpkin puree or mashed butternut squash
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil

Mix wet ingredients together. Sift dry ingredients together. Mix dry ingredients into wet.

Preheat oven to 175C. Divide batter among cupcake papers lining a cupcake pan. Bake 20 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into cupcakes comes out clean. Cool on baking racks. Frost/decorate as desired.

Cupcake graveyard


I used a very basic, and incidentally, vegan chocolate cake recipe to make these cupcakes – although I added in a few teaspoons of instant espresso powder to make them mocha cupcakes.

The cupcake recipe is below. They are frosted with a basic chocolate buttercream and then dipped in Oreo crumbs (Oreos make good dirt/earth). Then the tombstone cookies are added. Various other decorations can be added to suit your tastes.

Chocolate cupcake recipe (vegan)
2 cups water
1 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoons white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups sugar
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cocoa

(2-3 teaspoons instant espresso if you’re going for a mocha thing, like I did)

Preheat oven to 175C. Mix the wet ingredients. Sift dry ingredients together and add to the wet ingredients. Divide among cupcake pans lined with cupcake papers. Bake 15-20 minutes until toothpick inserted in the middle of cupcakes comes out clean.

Frost/decorate as desired.


Tombstone cookies


When dreaming up this idea of a cupcake graveyard, I needed to think of how to make tombstones. I might have come up with something more creative and fitting had I had more time, and if I weren’t attempting to make 25 other things at the same time, in the same limited window, but oh well. I have always been a volume and variety baker over a beauty and style baker…

This was fairly easy dough to use to make the tombstones – it chills and then can be rolled out and cut. It was very dull and too time consuming to me to have to create a pattern for the headstones and the one cross I made – and they ended up being a bit too big for the cupcakes. But… with a tiny bit of advance planning, this would be easier. It would also be easier, and more pleasurable, for people who like the craftier, visual side of baking.

“Tombstone” cookies
6 tablespoons softened butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Beat butter and sugar until creamy, add and beat egg and vanilla.

Sift dry ingredients together, add gradually to butter mixture, mix thoroughly until a soft dough forms. Divide dough into two parts and chill for about an hour.

Preheat oven to 200C when ready to bake.

Roll out dough (one part at a time) on a lightly floured surface. Cut into desired headstone or cross shapes (or whatever you plan to cut). If sticking into a cake, it makes sense to cut the bottom at an angle or spike shape.

Place on a baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes until very lightly browned. Let cool on baking racks.

Once cooled you can write on/decorate the cookies with melted chocolate or icing.


Ginger cookies with pumpkin spice chips


I have made many different variations of ginger cookies/ginger snaps in recent years. I used to have a standard recipe – the one with which I grew up – but I tried others that used fresh grated ginger, some that didn’t call for molasses (not always easy or possible to find in Europe) and some just to change things up.

This time, having no molasses and wanting to use some pumpkin spice chips someone had given me (I really wasn’t sure about these – they seemed a bit too ‘toxic’ and unnatural in flavor…), I adapted a bit. I had a lot of golden syrup on hand and decided to use that in place of molasses…

Ginger cookies
Preheat oven to 180C
2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh grated ginger
1/4 cup water
1/3 cup golden syrup
1/3 cup butter
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
pumpkin spice chips

Mix all ingredients except the final two listed. Add the chips, if desired, at the end when dough is well-mixed. You can wrap and chill for a while if you prefer.

Roll dough into small, walnut-sized balls, roll in sugar and place on parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake 9-10 minutes.