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Rich and sweet, monkey bread is a ‘pull apart’ treat. I had it as a child a few times, the simian sound intriguing and repulsing me as I gingerly sampled. Not a tradition, my grandmother exposed us to the treats for several holidays during my teen years; I still remember all ‘oohs’ and ‘ahs’.  Preparing this sweet gem as an adult was delicious gratification and an exercise in nostalgia.

Also known as Hungarian coffee cake, golden crown, pinch-me cake and bubble loaf, the origin of the term monkey bread is uncertain. Most often served as a breakfast pastry, recipes for the succulent bread first appeared in American women’s magazines and community cookbooks in the 1950s. It is traditionally served hot so that the baked segments can be easily torn away and eaten by hand.

This recipe is not super gooey like other versions. Here, the dough is divided into smaller portions so that each bite has a higher concentration of butter and cinnamon.

Hands on   : forty-five minutes

Total time :  three hours (including rising time)

Ingredients:

For the dough…..

Two envelopes of active dry yeast
Half a cup of granulated sugar
One quarter cup of warm water (115 degrees)
1 cup of milk, heated
Six tablespoons of butter, softened
Half teaspoon of salt
Two eggs, slightly beaten
Five and a half cups all-purpose flour

….and the topping:

One and a half cups granulated sugar
Half a cup of chopped walnuts
Two teaspoons ground ginger
One teaspoon cinnamon
Half cup of butter, melted

In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast and one tablespoon of the sugar in the water; allow the mixture to stand for five minutes. In a large bowl, combine the remaining sugar, milk, butter, salt and eggs.

Now: add the yeast mixture.

Next, beat in the flour a cup or so at a time, using an electric mixer. Beat until smooth.

Turn the dough onto a floured board and knead.  Let the dough rest for ten minutes, then knead the dough for eight minutes more. When finished, place the dough in a greased bowl, turning the dough greased side up.

Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk….about thirty minutes or so.

Now to work on the topping….

In a small bowl, combine sugar, walnuts, ginger and cinnamon. Set aside.

Punch the dough down and divide it into forty-eight portions.

Roll each portion into a ball. Roll each ball first in the melted butter , then the walnut mixture.. Then place the balls in a greased ten-by-four loaf pan or bundt pan. Sprinkle any remaining topping over  the dough.

Cover and allow the dough to rise for thirty minutes.

Bake at 350 degrees for fifty minutes or until golden brown. Allow your masterpiece to cool before serving.

monkey bread Pictures, Images and Photos

Serves ten.

~per serving:

621 calories (percent of calories from fat, 32), 11 grams of protein, 95 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 22 grams fat 11 grams saturated), 89 milligrams cholesterol, 303 milligrams sodium.

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Mark it down. I rarely use the word beautiful; I find disdain in its overuse.

However, there aren’t that many other words that accurately describe my exposure to Ms. Esperanza Spalding, the 23 year old soulful, string strumming genius from Portland, Oregon. Beautiful not for her heavenly face or her porcelain skin, but more so for the sensations that purity of  delivery and her phenomenal stage presence brought about in me.

Too cool, she floated across the stage and assumed her position; my curiosity was stoked as she cued the band. Like a singular breeze moving through a still room, she oozed….…….under the beaming lights, never missing a stroke, her tiny hands roaming over that beast of an instrument, effortlessly rendering me breathless and borderline smitten as she hypnotized her audience.

Her glam was infinitely fantastic as she lead the band with dreamy articulation and a masterful finesse, coaxing deep resonance and soul throbbing strands from her counterpart, merging sound and color with time and space.

Spalding, born of African-American, Welsh and Spanish descent, is able to sing in Spanish and Portuguese as well as English. When asked why she chose the bass as her signature sound, she insists that the choice wasn’t hers, but that the bass “had its own arc” and resonated with her. For her, discovering the bass was like “waking up one day and realizing you’re in love with a co-worker.”

With a firm desire to be judged for her skills and showmanship rather than her sex appeal, she is an advocate of female musicians exerting care to avoid over sexualizing themselves. Not wanting to limit herself, she chooses not to be categorized as simply a jazz artist, preferring to keep her options open on future collaborations, thereby maintaining an avenue to reach the masses that may not be as familiar with jazz.

In 2005, Spalding was hired by Berklee College of Music, becoming one of the youngest professors in the institution’s history. Her method: help students manifest their growth through a practice journal, allowing them to recognize their strengths and what elements they need to pursue. As of 2008, she was in the process of developing a course that focuses “on transcribing as a tool for learning harmony and theory”.

Simply beautiful.

This fantastic read is a vivid, multifaceted glimpse into the life of R.F. Maldonado. Within, he  shares shamelessly and without hesitation. This man of many hats is beyond definition: singer, songwriter, entertainer, gangster, survivor.

I neither condone nor justify the use of drugs. As a member of the Sober Community, I know how critical and judgemental the masses can be; I would imagine that it’s a chore to love a heroin addict.

While reading this book, I found myself in downtown Atlanta, sitting outside a methadone treatment center. The motley mix of nine-to-five troopers that utilize ‘the clinic’ for the morning sessions are not much different from you or myself……..except that these people have an appointment they can’t miss; if they do, it’s going to be a messy day at the J-O-B.

Heroin addiction is a sickness; his continued sobriety is an accomplishment, a victory, and a testament to his strength.

There is a certain tenderness about his delivery that makes one want to embrace him. Life as he knows it, his testament and recollections of violence, a gangster’s violence, are looked upon as part of a distinct past, one he makes no move to distance himself from. Rendered with a conversational glint, his style of storytelling isn’t overly grandiose. Rather, you’re drawn in by his meaningful delivery, his ultra cool.

Plagued by childhood pains that caressed and taunted him for decades, they also subconsciously directed his self destructive patterns. His paranoia was instilled and prominent at an early age; someone of lesser constitution would be in no condition to spill his memoirs in an attempt to help the next man.

Mr. Maldonado is fascinating, his zest for life  unquestionable. He has a way of looking at things…sensitive and quirky, especially when considering factors of Murphy‘s Law. If Time steals a name from him, the loveliest details of the encounter remain to compensate and captivate.

Journey with the man. Allow him to take you with him as he revisits his most tragic moments. Along the way, he’ll share his joys, his passions, and the sweet flowers that he lingered  to sniff.

If you’re lucky, you might even get to hear him strum a tune.

The book began with a glimpse into the secret world of these teenage girls. In dramatic fashion, the terrors in the mind’s eye of any person raising a young lady were  personified , multiplied……. then juggled, the horrific images leering at you as they pass before your eyes onto the next page. These  ladies were  resourceful. They were also sweet, sinister, and oh so brutal.

Not sounding soft is is difficult. Seeing young teen girls in physically compromising situations with inappropriate male suitors was an instant turn off. The reality of the fiction is that some girls choose to play adult games, for whatever reason, and therein I found acceptance. The main character, Vida,  age fourteen and a mere freshman in high school, had plenty sense. Although her beginnings were profoundly tragic, she actually had a life long stability that went against some of the choices she made. Watching her evolve was pleasing, and a testament to her repressed benevolence.

As the stakes rise , the finesse of the crew shines in signature, cold blooded moments. the introduction of a male character elevates their operation to the next level. While I initially thought his inclusion was lateral move, his purpose served to lend  another facet of ruthlessness that the ladies were unable to manufacture on their own. His operational slickness and sense of friendship completed the group dynamic.

This story was told on a grand scale, bordering epic proportions,  the coast to coast jaunt peppering the tale with fresh locales, lending scope and new dimension as the viciousness of their deeds escalated.

~Nicely done.

Ð. Stylz

Editor in Chief

Chaklet Coffee Books

This  assignment made me realize how prejudiced I had become against hood literature. Apparently, an indifference to violence and unending tales of ghetto terror had developed. What was once shocking intrigue had become trendy and over populated with an engorgement of talented writers, all consumed with out shocking each other by assaulting intelligent readers with everything from violence to vice…..and every cuss word in between.

Residents come and go, but the Hood is constant, and Time has taken its toll on Bentley Manor, focal point in this installment and safe keeper of its desperate and destitute denizens. Decades strong, the apartment complex stands aimless and proud, its innards infested with junkies, hustlers,  and  kids pulling tricks in urine scented hallways.

Some stereotypes are to be expected, but the writers (Meesha Mink and De’nesha Diamond) have instilled facets and shades of these men that made them stand out not just as individuals, but also by displaying a sensitivity……a compassion for their surroundings that was most inspiring. Shocking elements were finely balanced by unexpected vulnerabilities. A fresh first person narrative sealed the deal, making for a vivid treat.

The authors found excellent pitch for the voices of the entities portrayed: a pimp that was shockingly oblivious to most everything but  business, a player, a killer, and a drug dealer, one that intended to keep his game drama free. As clichéd as the crew sounds, the introductions, the interludes, the interactions, the initiations were all executed with candor and sincerity.                                                                                                                                                                                                Unforced; quite busy,  yet never precocious.

Crisp.

This book changed my perspective on hood novels.  Accurately capturing the authenticity of the Atlanta inner city locale was an extra treat.

“I wish I had more hands”…….. I would give this novel three thumbs up.

Ð. Stylz

Editor in Chief

Chaklet Coffee Books

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