Sunday, October 19, 2008

Memories in a package of cookies?


Maybe because we don't have a television, I'm not sure, but I think my mind has gone a bit crazy, not in a bad way, in a good way.  it's working...bringing up memories that I have had tucked in there for a long time.  Memories that have been pushed down from Entourage or Grey's Anatomy (oh I sure do miss my 2 favorite shows) or the food network.

Last week we visited our friends Nala and Neerva.  They own Le Roucan, the gite we stayed at last year here in the Aveyron.  At that time Neerva was out of town, so in the 2 weeks we were here we never met her.  We arrived at their home with warm memories.  The live in a hamlet called finneroyls, it consists of about 8 houses, starting with a small farm and ending 1 mile up at the top of a hill where you'll find Nala and Neerva's home and gite.  Nala is french and Neerva is originally from Germany.  The offered us some lovely mint tea (fresh mint from the garden) and she brought out a plate of these biscuits/cookies.  I took one bite and was transferred back to my childhood.  It's funny how a taste or smell can do that to you.  I wasn't sure what the memory was and since I was at a friends house I had to focus on the conversation at put it away until later.  I asked what the name of the biscuits were, because not only did they provide a happy memory, they were extremely good, I knew I had to get some.

"Speculoos de bruges" she said.  They are belgian cookies and she told me I could get them at the Hyper-U (pronounced eeper-oo).  I couldn't wait to go and get some.  We are now huge fans of these tasty little biscuit/cookies, they are my new favorite cookie and we keep a big stock of them on hand.  How do I describe speculoos to you?  Well, I'd say they are a thin spice cookie, not a gingersnap, not a molasses cookie, not a snickerdoodle, but maybe something like a mix of all three.  All I can tell you is that they are amazing and addicting, if you can find them, buy them!

old fashioned windmill cookies

Last night Bruce was drawing and I was reading and eating a few after dinner speculoos when I remembered what reminded me of these tasty treats.  When I was young (the youngest of 4 - all 2 years apart - my poor mom) there was a woman who lived across the street named Toni Brady.  I called her Nana.  She took care of me a lot when I was a baby/toddler.  She had a dachshund named "petie" and he would lay outside the door of the room where I would be taking a nap and growl at anyone except Toni that would try and come in.  I don't remember that, my Mom told me.  But as I was sitting in our little house in rural france, I started to remember what her kitchen looked like.  I could remember the layout and the wallpaper, which was red/while toule and she had some bundt pans hung on the wall, I'm sure she used them, but it was also for decoration.  I also remember that she would give me archway windmill cookies, these cooking taste almost exactly like speculoos, except they have almond slices or some type of sliced nut in them, speculoos doesn't have any nuts.  

So by eating this little belgain biscuit here in rural southwest france I was brought back 40 some odd years to my old nana's house where I would eat windmill cookies.  I can't wait to find some more old memories.

27 comments:

Lynn said...

I love your pic of the 2 bikes in front of your house. I stumbled across your blog while looking for Americans in Aveyron. I am planning a trip to the region next Aug - Sept with my mother, sister and daughter. I have been looking for a charmin, quaint gite and I think I have found that in Le Roucan. I also ride my bike, with a neighboring girlfriend, but I'm sure not to the extent that you do. I live in rural Arknasas and we have a few hills but it doesn't sound like anything you are experiencing in France. I have done extensive research on the internet about travel in the area, but since my French is limited it's hard to find much that is written in English. I plan to study up on my French before next summer. My email is travellady@centurytel.net, I would appreciate if you had the time to share any of your wisdom of the area. I will be emailing the owner of Le Roucan. Thanks in advance for any help. Lynn

Jennie said...

Ahhh Windmill cookies!! I had totally forgotten about those. I need some NOW!!

Leesa said...

Hey there!

I LOVE SPECULOUS, too!!! I discovered these tasty cookies last year when someone told Alex that we could use ground speculous cookies as a cookie crust substitute for graham cracker crumbs for cheesecake!!! I cannot begin to tell you HOW tasty this cheesecake turned out to be!!! If you feel the urge to bake a cheesecake (to share with your new French friends) you can use fromage nature as a great substitute for cream cheese... YUM!!! Have a nice rest of your Sunday!!!

Take care,Leesa

Our Juicy Life said...

lynn - thanks for finding me. I'd be happy to help you any way that I can. You will love this area...Najac is beautiful and so are all the other villages. I'll send you an email with loads of info. Maybe we can meet up???

Our Juicy Life said...
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Our Juicy Life said...

jeanie - gotta love those
cookies...they are so good..not sure if you can find them here, if not go for the speculous.

Our Juicy Life said...

leesa - you rock! These cooking would make a great crust...leave it to you to find a great use for these cookies. Maybe I'll do a cheesecake, where do I find fromage nature with the yogart???

Anne, Marc, Mathieu and Gigi Norcross said...

It's funny that you remember Archway windmill cookies. Unfortunately, Archway went out of business this month. Guess who was one of the heirs to Archway...Diane Sanders (Mathieu's bestfriend Ben's mom). Her grandmother started Archway.

La Framéricaine said...

OJL,

I love the new photo! I so want to enter the doors and sit down for a cuppa!

The memory flashback was so wonderful to read about. I had one this week thanks to a friend in Arkansas who wrote down a dialog between my mother and I, verbatim, 26 years ago! Can you imagine? A blast from the past.

I too love those windmill cookies but, not taking 30 mile bike rides, could no more have them in the same house with me than a brick of chocolate. Darn!

Sounds like you are getting ready to do the "houseguest" shuffle big time yourselves! Have fun!

Non, Je ne regrette rien said...

some of the restaurants here give a little wrapped Speculoo with your café. I stick them in my bag for later ... and usually dole them out to others who want a little snack. heh heh. they are tasty!

Lesley said...

I love speculoos too but I'm sure the Belgians would be horrified to hear to hear you say they were German!

Our Juicy Life said...

lesley - you know when I was looking up pictures i kept seeing them refered to as belgian, but then I was told they were german. when i was posting, i had it as belgain, but then i change it to german. sorry to all the belgians...

Our Juicy Life said...
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Leesa said...

Hey there A,

hehehe... Yeh, leave it to me, ay? We'll all gain about 5 kilos, no worries ; ) Just keep your bike handy after the piece of cheese cake..
You should be able to find fromage nature in the cheese section... maybe next to the St. Moret? If not, ask the grocer.... I have found it at some stores- like Monoprix and Atak so I'm "assuming" that all stores carry it but I could be wrong...
Was today a gorgeous day where you were, too?
Take care...
Leesa

Our Juicy Life said...

anne - oh no...they went out of business, that's so sad. Beat out by the oreo's and crap...Archway were orignals! So Diane must be loaded!

Our Juicy Life said...

LF - wow a conversation with your mom from that far back. i haven't had windmill cookies in so long, but as you can see my sister said the company went out of business, so no more windmills....thank god for speculoos. I have to stay in france now forever, i'd miss these little cookies too much.

Our Juicy Life said...

njrr - wow, i need to visit those cafes, I'd have a huge stash. they are so yummy

Our Juicy Life said...

Leesa - yesterday was freezing in the morning, frost on the meadow, but it warmed up nicely and was actually beautiful late in the afternoon. I sat outside in shorts and did my french homework. This morning it's much warmer, but I think because of the cloud cover keeping it warm.

Thanks for the cheesecake tip.

La Belette Rouge said...

A blogging friend from Belgium sent me a package of Speculoos de bruges and I am now in deep and dire need of more. There has to be a Belgian bakery in L.A. If there is I bet you know of it.;-)

Our Juicy Life said...

LBR - ah, you have tasted the speculoos....yeah! I don't know of a belgian bakery in LA, but I'd be happy to send you some from here.

Non, Je ne regrette rien said...

i forgot to tell you I saw a jar of speculoo butter in Perigueux yesterday - like nutella only speculoo flavored! I almost took a photo!

Our Juicy Life said...

jnrr - took a photo...girl you NEED to buy that for me next time you see it and I'll pick it up when I see you. My friend who was over on Tuesday said that there are belgian/german cakes at christmas that taste just like them too. Can't wait!

Barbara said...

Hi Alicia & Bruce,
That is a fabulous story about your windmill cookies ( loved it :) . It shows you the treasures that we store in the brain.And the fact that you have " cut" yourself from the mainstream of US life and the noise & distractions, you are opening yourself up to your senses.

In French lit. , an author called Marcel Proust wrote "A la recherche du temps perdu", a huge series of books. In a very famous scene in this story ,Proust's character dips a cake called a "Madeleine" in his tea, and like you, had a flshback through the taste & smell of it.

Wishing you both more happy discoveries :)

Anne in Oxfordshire said...

Hi I found you over on Chez Loulou's blog.

I love Speculoos. They have been favourites of mine for years and years. Goes back to when I was a little girl, and I used to live in Germany and Holland.

I have just been to Belguim for a few days (well September) and my brother asked me to bring him something back - Yes he wanted a packet of Speculoos!!!

Anne in Oxfordshire said...

I will put a picture up on my blog..:-)

Anne in Oxfordshire said...

Sorry about commenting again...spookily we have the same picture..same packet..strange isn't as I know you can get other packaging!!

Lien said...

These speculoos cookies are very good, they are from Belgium (certainly not german!) , though we can get them here in HOlland too. THe windmill-cookies are real dutch and they are called "Speculaas".

The funny new thing about the Lotus company who make the speculoos is that they now have 'speculoos-spread'. It looks a bit like smooth peanutbutter, but taste like the cookies. So maybe that should be on the shoppinglist for a lot of you too next time.