My mother has a way with words. She boasts an impressive vocabulary and an imposing grasp of syntax. More interestingly, my mom has an entire vernacular that she has created over the decades. I hear that this property actually originated with my grandmother. She used to refer to anything that was small or delicate as Breeda.
My mom and her best friend of almost 30 years both refer to one another as Breeda. At Christmas time there were gifts under the tree that were labeled “To Breeda, From Breeda.” My friends sometimes thought they were calling each other “Burrito.” To this day, and forever more, they are The Breedas.
My mom calls me Tweeters, which is fine. Occasionally I become Tweetette. People probably think it has something to do with the whole Twitter thing, but I have been Tweeters for as long as I can remember. When I slouch, she says to me, “Tweeters… SHODLERS.” This is her endearing (and sometimes nerve-racking) way of telling me to hold my SHOULDERS up. When there was lint in my belly button, she called it Miss Belinda. Sleepy crusties in my eye were referred to as yuckadoonies, and whenever I was blue, she called it the nannybooskies. Every night when she tucked me into bed she would say to me, "I love you bigger than the sky."
Instead of swearing in exasperation, she would say things like, “Oh, for garden seed!” or “Mother of Pearl!” If they don’t make sense, just say them out loud in a frustrated way – like if you just stubbed your toe.
My mom also used to name everything we owned. We had an old thrift store couch, upholstered in red velveteen, that she lovingly called John Glenn. She thought it felt like John Glenn’s hair probably did. He always had that perfect crew cut. She had a blue pick-up truck named John John the Nissan, named because the truck’s shade of blue was identical to that of JFK Jr.’s jumper at his father’s funeral.
When she ran her beautiful little café in Richmond, she did all of the cooking and baking. She served scotch eggs, wonderful delicate sweet onion tea sandwiches, café breads, soups and pastries -- to name just a few items. Her food followers were loyal. One day she was making up a batch of scones for the café. Something went terribly awry. They ended up looking like sad, lumpy dough globs. She was literally in the process of walking them to the trash to dump them, when her business partner suggested she go ahead and serve them anyway.
Well whaddaya know, these little foster children of pastry turned out to be a roaring success, and not only in the café: They were named one of Richmond Magazine’s favorite little desserts. She sold out every day.
She called them Lumples.
Mom’s Lumples are simple, classy, subtly sweet and downright adorable. They have an ever so slightly harder exterior and a delicate, crumbly, comforting, forgiving interior. They are warm, nurturing, and, dare I say, a bit maternal. I feel compelled to hold my shodlers up when I eat one.
My favorite of her Lumple varieties, and the one I am sharing with you here, is the Lavender Lumple. We recently prepared a batch of them with one beautiful ripe blackberry inside, and one on top. They are topped with a Meyer lemon glaze.
It’s funny, when I was a littley, I thought her language was charming, funny and normal. Then, from my teens through college, it was, like, so dumb. But not only do I love her for her quirky, plucky little patois, I have inherited it. I still have the nannybooskies when I'm blue. If something is put together poorly, it's chooch. When I stub my toe, I call it Toelio. If my knee hurts, I have Kneasles. I refer to my car as The Storm Trooper (it’s all white and imposing). And everyday, around 6pm, it is wine o’clock.
My mom prefers using King Arthur flour, raw milk, raw or cultured butter. Not necessary but she does insist on whole milk; skim or reduced fat milk will make for a "weaker lumple," she says.
7 to 8 lumples
2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons baking powder
3 tablespoons sugar
1 egg (slightly beaten)
3/4 cup milk
6 to 7 tablespoons chilled, unsalted butter
Preheat oven to 375
Sift flour, salt, baking powder and sugar together
Sift flour, salt, baking powder and sugar together
Cut butter into small pieces and blend (you may use a pastry blender or fork, but Mom uses her hands) into above mixture until consistency of cornmeal (if you are using lavender buds, this is the time to mix in 1 1/2 teaspoons of the buds)
Add egg and milk; mix quickly with fork until just blended
Add blackberries, raspberries, blueberries or strawberries if you want a berry lumple. My mom usually makes lavender, blueberry lumples and adds only 3 or 4 blueberries to each lumple; she puts in the berries after the lumples are formed and on the cookie sheet)
Bake 15-20 minutes
Meyer lemon glaze:
1/3 cup confectioner's sugar (sifted well)
3 tablespoons of butter at room temperature
juice of a little less than 1/2 of a Meyer lemon
Mix well until smooth-if mixture is too thick add another tablespoon of softened butter. As soon as lumples come out of oven, put a heaping teaspoon of the glaze on each lumple. It will self-drizzle because of the heat and meld beautifully with the lumples.