Book: Homer Price by Robert McCloskey.
1943, Scholastic, Inc.
Well, just when I was enjoying the Summer (big, florid pink and yellow roses, sun on my skin, red maple leaves, Bakewell tarts, thinking about doing an ice cream post), English Summer strikes again. Hard to feel Summery when it is 50 degrees Fahrenheit and you need to wear a coat! But I am keeping up my optimism.
Homer Price is a great reread for Summer. I have a charming copy from 1943 with yellowed pages which smell strongly of Old Book.
It’s a collection of stories about Homer Price, a little boy in a small town who has various adventures. I thought I would start with the first, The Case of the Sensational Scent. This is a cute story about Homer adopting a skunk which he names Aroma, who then goes on to help him capture a band of robbers.
Homer is a resourceful and cool-headed boy, who helps his parents, builds radios, and who gets up before it is light to go fishing alone (well, with his pet skunk as well). It might be more suitable for age seven and up, because there should probably be some conversations to accompany it about not adopting wild animals, not touching guns and not confronting robbers on your own! But most children are well able to distinguish fiction from reality, and it is a very cute story, with some quite funny touches, particularly with the educated robber who refers to Aroma as a “Musteline Mammal”.
The food in Homer Price, like everything else, is wholesome and simple. Homer’s mother makes fried chicken and hamburgers for the tourists. But Homer himself can most often be seen eating cookies and milk, which he usually gets for himself at bedtime.
We don’t have cookies very often in our house, but when we do, they are usually these. When I was a kid, my mother’s go-to cookie was oatmeal raisin — but not like those sugary slabs you’d buy in the stores. They were a kitchen-sink cookie, crammed full of thick rolled oats, raisins, seeds, anything else that happened to be in the house. Low sugar, real hippie stuff. And so one day I went looking for a similar cookie, but even healthier. I found this: Grain Free Oatmeal Raisin Cookies. I’ve made them many times since then, and the recipe is delicious and amazing, but I keep up the attitude of the kitchen-sink cookie, so I never follow the recipe exactly. Sometimes I’ll use apple, sometimes cooked sweet potato. I’ll add any number of dried fruits, nuts and seeds. I’ve even made them into jam thumbprints. This time I was feeling really lazy, so I used a nut butter instead of the apple (I also doubled the recipe, since my husband loves these cookies and was bound to gobble them up). So here is the variation I made this time:
“Oatmeal” Raisin Cookies
2 cups nut butter of choice
3 medium eggs
4 tablespoons honey
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup raisins (I added some mixed peel and chopped dates this time as well)
2 cups dessicated coconut
1 cup almond flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp baking soda
Mix all the ingredients together haphazardly because you are lazy and don’t mix dry and wet ingredients separately despite what your mama taught you! The mixture should be firm enough to drop in spoonfuls and not spread much. If it needs firming up, add more almond flour. Place tablespoons of the batter onto a cookie sheet, flattening out slightly. Bake at 325 degrees F (162 C) for 15 to 25 minutes until they are golden brown on top. Baking times may vary; I made mine quite big this time so they took half and hour.
Of course, as Homer knows, a cookie is best enjoyed with a big glass of milk. I don’t often have milk, but when I do, I do it right. This is the stuff I buy:
All that stuff on the side of the bottle is cream, because it’s whole and unhomogenized. So good. And because we are appreciating really good milk, here is a mini recipe. In Winter warm vanilla milk is comforting, in Summer iced vanilla milk is refreshing:
Iced Vanilla Milk
2 cups good whole milk, preferable unhomogenized
1/2 tsp vanilla (to taste)
Chill the milk in the fridge (You might have to put it in the freezer for 10 minutes if you’re fridge isn’t very cold). Whisk or shake in the vanilla.