Saturday, February 5, 2011

Nutmeg Snaps and Monks Behaving Oddly

Grenada is often referred to as the Nutmeg Island, and nutmeg itself as "Grenada Gold." For centuries, this spice was grown exclusively, like contraband, first, by the Portuguese, then by the Dutch, rulers of the island. Thankfully, the Brits came along.   They opened up the market for this exclusive spice by smuggling seeds of the nutmeg tree out of Grenada, and propagating and cultivating this spice farther afield. 

Throughout history, nutmeg has been endowed with possessing magical powers.  Probably the most ridiculous (and unsubstantiated) folk story we came across is the story of a monk, who allegedly advised young lovers "to carry vials of nutmeg oil and at the appropriate time, to anoint their genitals for virility that would see them through several days."   Hardly monastic advice, that.  And speaking of MONK-eying around....who'd have expected a Capuchin monk to form a heavy metal band?

This is the point at which we advise our readers not to believe everything that they read on the Internet.  Nutmeg oil, indeed.  Unless it's a recipe, in which case, you know it's good to go.  No one would have the audacity to mess around with food!

Thanks to the online Encyclopaedia of Spices for the back story to nutmeg; even bigger thanks to Marcy Leader for sharing yet another one of the mouthwatering cookie recipes for which she is rightly famous! (Ever tried her Rosemary Shortbread..?)


1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg, separated
1 3/4 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

In large bowl of mixer, cream butter & sugar until fluffy.  Add egg yolk and beat well.  Stir in flour and nutmeg.

Using lightly floured fingers, spread dough evenly in an ungreased 15x10" jelly roll pan.  Beat egg white slightly and brush on top, smooth with fingertips. 

Bake at 275' until golden brown, about 1 hour.  Cut while hot into 2 x 3/4" bars.  Cool on racks.

**Important to cut cookies as soon as they come out of the oven -- otherwise, they shatter.

Aside from her nutmeg flats, Marcy is lauded for her addictive, dried rosemary, cookies, which are baked to a top secret recipe.  We've pleaded with her to divulge, but she refuses to share!  If you're interested in obtaining your own fix, then email Marcy directly at

You wouldn't believe the stories that people spin around Rosemary...

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