“Assume that your guest is cold, hungry and tired and act accordingly.”
This quote is attributed to the Navajo people or the Navajo Diné as they prefer to be called. Now I don’t know very much about the Diné, but I do know this: they understand hospitality.
I liken hospitality to a beautifully wrapped gift. You know the kind I am referring to. It is gently placed in your hand exquisite in expensive paper with a satin bow and a matching card on which your name has been beautifully scribed by an attentive hand, and in that moment you are obsessed with that gift, even before you know what it is, simply because you are completely overwhelmed by the effort of the giver.
When I have experienced true hospitality, it has not been at some fancy pants hotel from a well-made up receptionist paid to treat me well, but rather, when I have entered the home of someone gifted and versed in the ability to make me feel welcome, like at the homes of my two wee cousins living in London.
So I will admit that my wee cousins are in actual fact fully grown women but they will always be wee things to me. It was such a delight to be able to spend a few short hours with them this past month, and I was really excited to see them. What I learned in that short time is that these two gals are beyond gifted in the area of hospitality.
I was met by Mini-me at Wimbledon station (so called because of her childhood resemblance to her aunt, my mom). Before we go on, can we just take a moment to admire my ability to navigate the London tube system on my own without Photogirl. Thank you.
Mini-me is a decorator and immediately on arrival at her polished and lovely loft, I was immediately offered tea and scones. How very British. Hello hospitality! I was also offered a shower. At 2pm in the afternoon. I did the shoulder sniff to check, but I did not smell. It was weird and funny and so so lovely. After a lovely catch up, and a brief chat with her new-ish man The Sailor, we headed off around the corner to The Bride’s house.
From the dusky pink tulips on the end table in my bedroom, to the soft clean towels the colour of Lindt chocolate balls on the end of the bed, to the soft glow of the heating that was already on that particular chilly day, I was moved by knowing that I had been expected and that I was welcome. Hello hospitality!
By the time dusk fell on that rainy Wimbeldon evening, the lounge had filled with the aroma of freshly ground chilli, coriander and lemongrass as The Bride prepared a fragrant and wonderful Thai beef curry. Dinner was served with fine red wine poured by The Groom, who is undoubtedly very impressed at his fine choice in wife, and was finished with Mini-Me’s Pavlova and fresh berries (from Waitrose nogal!). That night I was nourished with not only food, but with having my cousins all to myself and a good ole dose of loving. Hello hospitality!
So between the wine and the food, the memories and the maps of Paris, Mini-Me reminded me of a recipe that I had once shared with her for the best ever chocolate crackle cookies. Having lost her own copy, I promised to send her another on my return home, a promise that proved a little harder to keep than I would have thought.
I have owned up to my recipe collection being one hot mess, but never did I regret my lack of order and discipline in this area as much as I did when I started looking for this recipe. I must confess, that considering it to be gone for good, I Googled, as you do, and found a Martha Stewart recipe for crackle cookies and set about testing it to see if it was as good as the one I had sadly lost.
I had just eaten my tenth cookie – because when testing recipes you can never be too sure that it tastes really good – when I found the original. Aargh!!!
Mini-Me, I hope it was worth the wait, here it is.
PS. This is Martha’s recipe, which I adapted to work in metric. It is equally good. But I can send you the other one if you prefer.
What you need
180 g dark chocolate
1¼ cups flour
½ cup cocoa powder
2 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
120 g butter, room temperature
1⅓ cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 tsp. vanilla essence
⅓ cup milk
1 cup icing sugar, for rolling
- Melt dark chocolate gently.
- Mix together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt.
- Cream the butter and the sugar together until pale and light.
- Beat in the eggs and vanilla.
- Pour in the melted dark chocolate, and whisk to well blended.
- Add the dry ingredients alternatively with the milk.
- The dough will be very sticky.
- Leave in the bowl and cover with in plastic wrap.
- Chill in the refrigerator for approx. 2 hours, or until the dough is hardened and can be handled.
- Preheat oven to 180˚C.
- Scoop out even spoonfuls of hardened dough.
- Roll between your palms to form a ball and then toss each ball into a bowl of icing sugar to coat it.
- If the dough gets too sticky to handle, pop it back in the fridge to cool it back down.
- Line cookie up on a lined sheet, leaving ample space for spreading.
- Bake at for 12-15 minutes.
- Try to allow them to cool completely before you munch them all up.