Though I have many decades of life under my belt, little stirs me as much as does meeting flesh-and-blood kin. I’ve been fortunate to have this experience many times now, yet I’m still like a kid on Christmas morning when I realize I’m looking on the face of someone who shares my same bloodline.
That’s because as an adopted individual, I spent many years not knowing anyone to whom I was genetically related. Many adult adopted persons testify to the same take-your-breath-away sense of wonder when they realize they at last can gaze on “biological relations”.
Both my cookbooks, Way Back in the Country and Way Back in the Country Garden, are written in praise and devotion to the adopted family that loved and reared me—some of the finest folk on the face of the earth. I owe so much to these wonderful individuals; all the ink in the world is not sufficient enough to sing their praises.
But more than 30 years ago I was privileged to begin meeting members of my birthfamily and to uncover many rich stories of the physical heritage from which I sprang. This week I made the acquaintance of two more of their number, as some cousins from my maternal side paid me a delightful visit. Having traveled to the sunny West to celebrate the 35th birthday of our son (mentioned in the two previous blogs), we were able to connect with these cousins who are snowbirds from a colder climate and winter in the same city in which our children live year-round.
What kind of treats to prepare for a celebration such as this? Something that reflected our current Western geography—specifically, the citrus season about which I blogged earlier. The recent issue of Southern Living magazine, which features numerous “sweet-on-citrus” dishes, shared a recipe for Chocolate-Orange Cornmeal Cookies. I took an orange from our son’s backyard citrus grove and used it for the fresh orange juice and orange zest that the recipe specifies.
Pressing the dough into the log shape and cutting the log into slices made perfectly shaped, round cookies. The citrus gave the dough a special bright tang. The cornmeal addition was indecipherable in the finished product and actually helped the dough solidify. Drizzling the chocolate over the cooled cookies—well, it does what a bit of chocolate frosting does for any recipe. These cookies were just amazing!
Hours ticked away as though they were seconds as Hubby and I exchanged some special conversation with these newfound “cuzzins”. Comparing a physical resemblance here and there never ceases to bring huge amazement for one who never knew any physical kinfolk until I gave birth to my son and finally set my eyes on a face that looked like mine. One of the two visitors—a sprightly 93-year-old who’s still going strong—encouraged me about quality, long-term life expectancy. Firsthand accounts of her own grandparents—my great-grandparents on my birthfamily side—brought highly cherished moments for me.
Hubby and I never again will dine on Chocolate-Orange Cornmeal Cookies without thinking about these few rare hours in which we once again gathered some missing pieces (the title of my book, Gathering the Missing Pieces in an Adopted Life, which tells about my initial experience of finding birthfamily) and enjoyed fellowship with some interesting relatives.
Chocolate-Orange Cornmeal Cookies
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup plain cornmeal
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar (or sugar substitute)
1 large egg (or 1/4 cup egg substitute)
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Combine flour and cornmeal. Set aside. In a large bowl and with an electric mixer beat butter and sugar at medium speed until mixture is light and fluffy. Add egg and next three ingredients. Beat until all are blended. Gradually add flour mixture. After each addition beat just until blended. Cover and chill dough one hour. Using wax paper shape dough into a 12-inch log. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and chill 8 hours. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Remove log from refrigerator and allow to soften a little at room temperature so it will slice easily. Slice log into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Place 1-inch apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake 12 minutes or until set. Transfer to wire racks; cool completely (about 15 minutes). Drizzle 1/4 cup melted semisweet chocolate morsels over cooled cookies. (Use a small drop of cooking oil to thin melted chocolate if needed for drizzling.) Makes about 2 1/2 dozen cookies.