Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Invention of Wings and a Heavenly Dessert

"I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields...
it covers them up snug, you know,  with a white quilt;
and perhaps it says, ' Go to sleep, darlings,
till the summer comes again.' "
Lewis Carroll
Just before my neighbors took their  holiday decorations down I snapped this photo with my phone. It was a dazzling array of twinkling lights throughout the holiday season .

It was a good evening to stay inside, keep warm and read a good book. The Secret Lives of Bees has always been one of my favorite books. I like the author's writing style and how she is able to capture the 'heart of the south.' So I was looking forward to this new novel by Sue Monk Kid.
The Invention of Wings imagines the personal life behind the historical figure, Ms. Grimké who was the most widely read anti-slavery writer before Harriet Beecher Stowe, whose rousing novel "Uncle Tom’s Cabin" drew heavily from Grimké’s firsthand reports of slave life. 

The book is a fictionalized history of the Grimké sisters, Sarah and Angelina (Nina). They were the white daughters of a plantation owner and at the forefront of the abolitionist and women's rights movements. The author skillfully winds historical information but keeps the narrative story centered around the story of a young slave, Handful a.k.a Hetty. She was given to Sarah as an 11th birthday present. Sarah despises slavery, even at that early age, and out of principle attempts to reject the gift.

Kidd has given both Sarah and Handful distinctive voices. With them, they learn to speak to each other, and, ultimately, to us the reader I think finding a character’s voice can be difficult especially when writing in the voice of someone from a different race and wildly different experience can be a challenge.  Sue Monk Kidd is a white Southern author who has managed to avoid both condescension and cliché, creating an unforgettable character in the slave Handful, the emotional core of her utterly engaging third novel, “The Invention of Wings.”

I read a review by Bobbi Dumas from NPR “Finding Flight in the Invention of Wings”. She brought up some interesting points after reading the novel. What does it mean to be a sister, a friend, a woman, an outcast, a slave? How do we use our talents to better ourselves and our world? How do we give voice to our power, or learn to empower our voice.

Cherry-Berries on a Cloud
Cook's notes: A “cloud” of meringue is heavenly when filled with a cream cheese blend and colorful, sweet-tart fruit. This is a Betty Crocker recipe at least 40 years old.  I remember having it growing up and was in "7th heaven" so to speak when it was recently served at a brunch.  The stark contrast between the white and red made it an eye catching dessert. This dessert melts in your mouth and you just need to overlook the fact the sugar content is high but worth the splurge.  

  • 6 large egg whites (at room temperature)
  • 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1/4 tsp.salt 
  • 1-3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 packages (3 oz each) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp.vanilla
  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • 2 cups miniature marshmallows
Cherry-Berry Topping
  • 1 can (21 oz) cherry pie filling
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 cups sliced strawberries or 1 package (16 oz) frozen strawberries, thawed, drained
  • raspberries could be substituted for strawberries
  • Heat oven to 275°F. Grease bottom and sides of 13x9-inch pan. 
  • In large bowl, beat egg whites, cream of tartar and salt with electric mixer on high speed until foamy. Beat in 1 3/4 cups sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time; continue beating until stiff and glossy. Do not underbeat. Spread in pan.
  • Bake 1 hour. Turn off oven; leave meringue in oven with door closed 12 hours.
  • In large bowl, mix cream cheese, 1 cup sugar and the vanilla until smooth. 
  • In chilled medium bowl, beat whipping cream until stiff. Fold whipped cream and marshmallows into cream cheese mixture. 
  • Spread evenly over meringue. Refrigerate at least 12 hours but no longer than 24 hours.
  • In medium bowl, mix all topping ingredients until well blended. Spoon over individual servings of dessert. Store in refrigerator.

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