I shall soon be dressing for the social event of the season, a costume party to be held at the Four Seasons here in Atlanta. This is part of my costume on the left. The event is Carnevale, hosted by the Jerusalem House, for which my uncle has volunteered for several years. Jerusalem House provides over 62% of Atlanta’s permanent supportive housing designated for homeless and low-income individuals and families affected by HIV/AIDS. Almost 40% of Jerusalem House residents are children. Carnevale is a costume party to raise money for this wonderful charity.
Of course, there will be a costume contest. I am dressing as my French Queen, Marie Antoinette, with a guillotine built over my wheelchair for proper effect. At first, I was going to make my wheelchair into a royal throne but my family thought I would increase my chances of winning the costume contest by going for the shock value of the guillotine. I have a few scruples about portraying my beloved queen in that way, but at a party made up of men dressed in drag like Madonna, Dorothy, Lady Gaga, and so forth, any sort of historical value will fall on deaf ears. My two uncles and my mother are going to dress as evil clowns and they are calling themselves Cirque du Toilette and entering the costume contest as a group.
I’m told several local celebrities are due to make appearances at the party as well. The judges for the costume contest are Atlanta City Council President Ceasar C. Mitchell, WSB-TV’s Linda Stouffer and Dwight Eubanks, star of Real Housewives of Atlanta. I’ve also heard that Anthony from Project Runway might be in attendance as well. I must remember to bring my business cards!
My lovely date for Carnevale was to be Sissy, pictured at right, but she became very sick early this morning and could not come. She would have either dress as a naughty schoolgirl or as a 1920s flapper, depending on what she would have decided along her way here this afternoon. She was to be coming to spend the weekend with me as soon as she was let out from work but illness has gotten in the way. I have found a kindred spirit in Sissy and we always have the best time together. She has been my friend as well as my sister-in-law in previous lifetimes, which doesn’t define our relationship, but adds to the closeness. She recently passed her nursing exam and her birthday is coming up, so we were going to celebrate throughout the weekend. When she is recovered, we will have our weekend together though. Sometimes these things happen, like I told her! I will miss her this weekend but her health is more important to me than some silly costume party.
Our preoccupation with French culture made me think maybe we ought to make French cookies this weekend. I found this recipe that I think we’re going to do and add chocolate dipping to it. We will put it off for another weekend, certainly!
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup white sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/4 cup butter
1/3 cup granulated sugar for decoration
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Butter and flour 12 (3 inch) madeleine molds; set aside.
2. Melt butter and let cool to room temperature.
3. In a small mixing bowl, beat eggs, vanilla and salt at high speed until light.
4. Beating constantly, gradually add sugar; and continue beating at high speed until mixture is thick and pale and ribbons form in bowl when beaters are lifted, 5 to 10 minutes.
5. Sift flour into egg mixture 1/3 at a time, gently folding after each addition.
6. Add lemon zest and pour melted butter around edge of batter. Quickly but gently fold butter into batter. Spoon batter into molds; it will mound slightly above tops.
7. Bake 14 to 17 minutes, or until cakes are golden and the tops spring back when gently pressed with your fingertip.
8. Use the tip of the knife to loosen madeleines from pan; invert onto rack. Immediately sprinkle warm cookies with granulated sugar. Madeleines are best eaten the day they’re baked. Leftover madeleines are wonderful when dunked into coffee or tea.
9. Variation: Chocolate Madeleines: Omit lemon zest. Increase sugar to 1/2 cup. Substitute 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder for 2 tablespoons of the flour; sift into batter with flour.