Book Bites with Cat Rambo and Hearts of Tabat

Book Bites is Cooking the Books‘ more easygoing cousin. Authors talk about their book and share a recipe, all in one tasty bite. 

Author Cat Rambo is the colorful heart that beats at the center of SFF. Currently the president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Cat runs classes, coordinates readings, and helps writers at all levels join the community. 
She’s also my co-editor for Ad Astra, the SFWA 50th Anniversary Cookbook, a few years back. As such, she’s a welcome guest at Book Bites! And she’s here today with her new novel! Welcome, Cat!

In my new fantasy novel, Hearts of Tabat, one common street sight are the little bakery carts selling the wares from Figgis Bakery. In one scene, Adelina, accompanied by a child named Obedience, patronizes one.
A bakery cart was rumbling down the street, rocked back and forth by the cobblestones’ vagaries. A huge metal compartment at the front belched gusts of spicy steam, the shelter nestled behind it holding hand rolls, pasties, and other small breads whose enticing nature was enhanced by their warmth. Further back, shelves were stacked with loaves of bread and sacks of hard crusted rolls. A red canopy sheltered it from roof-drip or rain. The placard along the low-slung body, colored in red and purple on a white background, proclaimed, “Figgis’s best! As Good As the Duke Gets!!”
 
The woman pushing it stopped at Adelina’s gesture.
 
Obedience pored over the array of pastries with painful intensity. “Cinnamon buns for Compassion and Silence,” she said. “Those two in the corner, because they’ve got the same number of raisins. Cream tarts for Honesty and Eloquence. A fish pastie for Absolution and a fruit one for Grace. A hyacinth cookie for Mercy and a two-and-two for Wisdom.”
Hyacinth Cookies, a rare treat for Obedience and her family, take their name from their coloring, a soft purple that comes from the reed-sugar used to sweeten them in Tabat, and which also gives them a floral intensity.
Here’s a Terran variant that you can color as you please.
  • 2 cups flour
  • 3-5 drops food coloring
  • 1/2 teaspoon flavoring (almond, orange, etc.)
  • 3/4 cup butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup white chocolate chips
  1.  Cream the butter, add salt and sugar, blend well.
  2.  Add egg yolks, food coloring, and flavoring to butter mix and mix well.
  3. Add flour mixture gradually (1/3 at a time works well) and mix until dough is smooth.
  4. Add white chocolate chips and mix well.
  5.  Divide dough in half, shape each half in a cylinder about an inch and half wide.
  6.  Wrap cylinders in plastic wrap and chill in fridge 2-12 hours. (You can make ahead and freeze these for up to 2 months.)
  7.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice logs into 1/3″ rounds and bake on baking sheet lined with parchment paper for approximately 15 minute or until edges get slightly brown.
Makes 2 dozen cookies.

Cat Rambo lives, writes, and teaches atop a hill in the Pacific Northwest. Her 200+ fiction publications include stories in Asimov’s, Clarkesworld Magazine, and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. She is an Endeavour, Nebula, and World Fantasy Award nominee. Her 2018 works include Hearts of Tabat (novel, WordFire Press) and the updated 3rd edition of Creating an Online Presence for Writers. For more about her, as well as links to her fiction and her popular online school, The Rambo Academy for Wayward Writers, see http://www.kittywumpus.net 

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