Almonds as Poems


When he returns to the kitchen for his coffee, he hears a crackling upon the stove–the whole almonds, slightly blistered from toasting in the oven and poured into the newly-oiled cast iron, are cooling.

He leans into the volume of husks cracking, and listens to almonds. they speak of their journey through fire, while he gazes across the kitchen and through the window through remembering.

He stands up and turns to his warm cup, lightened by a dash of whole and remembers today is. Whom he was is there. Here is his moment, and it’s beautiful.

After his cup empties, he’ll walk to the center, pick up his weekly vegetables; scrubbed and steamed beets and granny apples and sweet young onions will all nestle together into a dish of earthy sweet magenta for dinner. Before he washes the vegetables he’ll turn the cooled almonds around buttery cashews and wide swaths of coconut, handfuls of pebbly raisins, the last third of the medjool dates scissored carefully into pieces. the almonds

cooled beneath breezes, have quit their shouting, relaxed into their skins, let themselves be turned among the rest and doused in syrup for transformation. later a slice will reveal the sweet and salt, the nutty crunch of poems will give way beneath teeth, crisp splinters breaking down for a pause, as words unspoken, chewed, swallowed, savored.


This is my most crafted recipe this year, and it’s definitely the best homemade granola I’ve ever made. It bends to your whims and seems to want to please you, so make it your own. And it couldn’t be easier to mix up a batch while you’re putzing around the kitchen doing dishes or making dinner or whatnot.



3 cup mixture of toasted nuts and dried fruit

1 2/3 cup oats

1/3 cup oats processed into flour

scant 1/2 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt


6 Tablespoons melted butter

1/4 cup honey or maple syrup

2 Tablespoons light corn or rice syrup

1 Tablespoon water

Add any of these optionals to the liquids:

1/4 t. cinnamon (recommended)

1/3 cup peanut butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix everything together and pour into an 8 x 8 that’s been sprayed with coconut oil and lined with parchment. Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes, cool and sneak bites for the following week.

-Adapted from Deb Perelman’s Recipe

18 comments to Almonds as Poems

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  • Muzhik

    Matthew, that was beautiful.

    Now, for extra credit, let’s see you do it in 6 words.

  • Muzhik:

    When almonds crackle, the poet writes.

    Thanks for the compliment.

  • Muzhik


    Well played, sir! Well played!

  • War Pig

    Glad to see the blog back in use. I’d given up after the log dry spell following the September post. This post reminds me of the Neil Diamond song “Crunchy Granola Sweet”. America’s Test Kitchen recently id a recipe on granola, too.

  • War Pig

    Just tried a new Amish recipe for zucchini pie. Later, when I have zucchini coming out of my ears, I’ll need recipes to help me get rid of them. This tasted really good, so I’ll be able to give away pies to friends and neighbors who would normally set the dogs upon me for leaving bags of zucchini on their doorsteps.

    You can also use zucchini to flavor vodka.


    4 sliced zucchini
    1/4 cup onion, diced
    1/3 cup butter
    2 teaspoons parsley
    1/2 teaspoon garlic
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/4 teaspoon pepper
    1/4 teaspoon basil
    1/4 teaspoon oregano
    2 eggs beaten
    2 cups grated Mozzarella cheese
    1 cup Monterrey Jack cheese
    1 unbaked pie crust
    2 tablespoons dry mustard

    Melt the butter in pan and cook the zucchini and onion over low heat for 10 minutes. Mix spices and add to zucchini mixture. Simmer for a few minutes. Add eggs and cheese to the mixture. Spread dry mustard into the unbaked pie crust. Pour zucchini mixture into the crust and bake at 375 for 20 minutes

  • Muzhik

    @War Pig –
    Heeeyyyyy… Wait a minute…
    THAT’S not a pie! Where’s the sugar? Where’s the crumble topping? Where’s the fruit? (And DON’T try to weasel out it it by claiming zucchini is really a fruit the way tomato is really a fruit. We both know that’s some lefty plot to let tomatoes skip past fruit tariffs at the border. The same way “Canadians” claim to be “North Americans”!)

    What you have there, is one of them hoity-toity fancy-dancy KEESHY type imitation pies, ain’t it! (It’s “quiche” if you want to use the freedom-fry-hating, Frenchy-type spelling. That’s how you know it’s subversive.) All I can say is, it ain’t a pie if it don’t go with whipped cream.

    And about “Canadians” being “North Americans”: REAL North Americans don’t use metric!

  • I’m pretty sure as long as you’ve got the crust, the filling can be either savory or sweet, so take a deep breath, Muzhik, and calm yourself. At any rate, WarPig, thank you for the generous passing along of the recipe. Since leaving the Dakotas I’m no longer inundated with zucchini, but it’s always nice to have a new recipe to pass along, and try. :D

  • War Pig

    It really tastes better than it sounds.

    OK, Muzhik, I’ll call it a zucchini tart if you like, but it is an Amish recipe, hence Dutch in origin.

    But my scratch chocolate pie has no fruit and only one crust, too. Ditto my pumpkin pie.

    Oh, and you can put whipped cream on the zucchini pie/tart, but sour cream goes much better with a savory filling. Or maybe crème fraîche instead of sour cream.

    Y/w Matthew. Oh, I just picked up a recipe from the Amish gals at the local farm market (yesterday, on Saturday) for Raspberry Chocolate Bars. Probably try it next month sometime. It’s a bit more involved. I want fresh raspberries to try it with and they’ll have another batch coming ripe in early July. The recipe uses seedless raspberry jam instead of berry puree and I like to make my own for such things instead of the commercial variety (I use no high fructose corn syrup in mine and no preservatives or enhancers).

  • Muzhik

    @War Pig, You can put whipped cream on both your chocolate and your pumpkin pies, so those count.

    Dutch Zucchini Tart? Maybe, but only if it comes in the teeny-tiny aluminum pie tins that pot pies used to come in. Try that and see how well they go over at the local farmer’s market. THEN we’ll decide.

    @Matthew, you mean your local grocery store doesn’t sell zucchini? Well, tsk on them. You’ll just have to ask friends, family, and acquaintances (as if there’s a difference) back in North Dakota to send you some and spread the zucchini love around!

  • War Pig

    @Muzhik: I have a recipe for stuffed zucchini that is a proven hit. My grandson’s football team can gobble them up by the truckload. I sent copies to a friend in Canada and one in the UK (England) now they are an international hit.

    You can also substitute zucchini for sliced apples in mock apple pie, using apple juice or cider for flavor (I recommend reducing it by about a third to a half) or, if you’re bold, use apple brandy. I even have a passable recipe for mock apple pie that has no apple ingredients whatsoever.

    And I’m glad you mentioned pot pies. They are pies that have no fruit and frequently only one crust (the upper one). :-)

  • Muzhik

    @War Pig, I don’t know what grocery store you use to buy your pot pies, but neither Swanson nor Banquet sell pot pies with only one crust. I know this because I was raised on getting the pot pie out of the tin by flipping it over onto the plate, so the lower crust is now the upper crust (so to speak). And even if it has no fruit, you can serve it with a whipped topping. You have to hit the gravy with an electric beater for quite a while, but yes, you can whip the gravy into a very flavorful topping.

  • War Pig

    @Muzhik: Ewww. Go buy a real pot pie and see. Don’t buy the Swanson or Bird’s Eye or other mass-market, frozen, fast food pies. I have yet to have a high-end pot pie with two crusts. They are baked in a casserole or other dish (often a large ramekin/soufflé dish for the individual pies) with only the top crust. I prefer to use the large soufflé dish when I make them, and a puff pastry crust

    That’s like comparing a hand-spanked burger you ground yourself from a chuck roast and lovingly cooked over charcoal to a McDonald’s burger. Ugh.

    As for whipping gravy, I’d like to see you do it.I have a Vitamix and I’m gonna try to use it to whip some chicken gravy. If a Vitamix won’t do it, nothing will. Remember, stiff peaks, old boy.

  • War Pig

    Sorry, I meant a Kitchen-Aid pro. I have the Vitamix, too, but I’ll use the Kitchen-Aid.

  • Muzhik

    War Pig, a brief digression (digestion?)

    I thought you’d appreciate this guest post from “Holy Taco Church”:

    Food Is Fuel

    And here’s the URL in case my html code didn’t come through:

    Having never served, I can only imagine, but tell me this is NOT exactly how a DI would sound explaining how to cook tilapia?

    Stay fueled soldier.

  • War Pig

    Hahaha! Thanks for that. Reminds me of old days. This is almost exactly the way our senior drill instructor lectured us at chow the first few days of USMC boot camp.

    “You maggots will eat according to the numbers. A well-fed Marine is a strong Marine. A strong Marine is best able to kill the enemies of our great nation. You will eat the green vegetables first as you need fiber. Fiber makes the digestive machinery run like oil lubricates the bolt of your rifle. Then you will eat the protein part of the meal. You will chew this thoroughly as well-chewed protein is absorbed by the body faster and with less waste, making you stronger. Protein builds muscle so you can crush the enemy with your bare hands if necessary. The protein also provides you with endurance to keep on killing. You will then consume the starch and fructose such as bread or corn and the fruit. Starch and fructose provides a burst of energy necessary in bayonet charges so that you may impale and kill the enemy in large numbers when you have used all your ammo killing other enemy soldiers. There is no excuse for a Marine to stop killing until ordered to do so or until all the enemy are dead. You will eat NO sweets, NO cakes, NO pie, NO brownies, NO desserts of any kind. Desserts are for HEROES. You maggots are not yet heroes. You are not even @#$%^&* Marines yet. You will eat the diet graciously provided for you by the Untied States Marine Corps. You will waste none of it. You will wash it down with water as if that water was the blood of the enemy. In MY day we ate only the enemy dead and most of those #$%^&*(%$#@ were scrawny little runts with little meat on them. You ladies have it soft. You have exactly seven minutes to eat, place your trays in the scullery slot and get outside in formation. READYYYYY….EAT!”

    I kid you not. Senior Drill Instructor Gunnery Sergeant Viddel S. Parker was something else. He was just short of 6′8″ tall and when he stood to attention, his fingertips were level with his knees. 52″ chest and a 32″ waist. His bicep was as big around as my thigh and his fists were as big as a ham-hock. He once picked up three privates and squeezed them in a bear hug until they couldn’t breathe. He wore size 17 boots, one of which he tried to jam up my behind for scratching in formation, lifting me about two feet off the ground in the process.

    Old days, man. Old days. ;-)

  • Muzhik

    LOL! I have a scene in an unpublished story where I’m helping rebuild a society that’s been in a near constant state of war for almost 300 years. Isolation and hardship had taken their toll — Couples that had been kissing cousins 300 years before now shouldn’t even be in the same room. There was just too much inbreeding.

    I got the two top generals (formerly bitter enemies on opposite sides, now trying to build a new army to serve a forcibly conjoined political entity) to agree to request a change in consanguinity laws by asking them point-blank, together, if they could honestly tell me the conscripts today were at least as good as the generals were when they started in the army. They looked at each other for a long moment, then said they’d get back to me. The change passed.

    Today’s maggots are never as strong as when we were maggots, right?

    BTW, you REALLY need to submit that story to the Holy Taco Church!

  • War Pig

    Just submitted it in the comments section. Yeah, things were tough back then but the troops today are superb overall.