A Poem and a Recipe: Blackbirds and Beignets

For the next 7 days, I will be featuring a poem and a recipe, not necessarily anything to do with each other, but perhaps each informing the other in not immediately foreseen a manner, very much like accidentally eating caviar while watching reality television. Otherwise, take from each what you will.

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird
by Wallace Stevens

Among twenty snowy mountains,
The only moving thing
Was the eye of the blackbird.


I was of three minds,
Like a tree
In which there are three blackbirds.


The blackbird whirled in the autumn winds.
It was a small part of the pantomime.


A man and a woman
Are one.
A man and a woman and a blackbird
Are one.


I do not know which to prefer,
The beauty of inflections
Or the beauty of innuendoes,
The blackbird whistling
Or just after.


Icicles filled the long window
With barbaric glass.
The shadow of the blackbird
Crossed it, to and fro.
The mood
Traced in the shadow
An indecipherable cause.


O thin men of Haddam,
Why do you imagine golden birds?
Do you not see how the blackbird
Walks around the feet
Of the women about you?


I know noble accents
And lucid, inescapable rhythms;
But I know, too,
That the blackbird is involved
In what I know.


When the blackbird flew out of sight,
It marked the edge
Of one of many circles.


At the sight of blackbirds
Flying in a green light,
Even the bawds of euphony
Would cry out sharply.


He rode over Connecticut
In a glass coach.
Once, a fear pierced him,
In that he mistook
The shadow of his equipage
For blackbirds.


The river is moving.
The blackbird must be flying.


It was evening all afternoon.
It was snowing
And it was going to snow.
The blackbird sat
In the cedar-limbs.

Sweet potato merges with rich, fresh goat cheese in this little dish, which makes a lovely appetizer or a decadent breakfast. It can be seasoned to make for a sweet or savory bite, whichever suits your fancy at the moment.

Sweet Potato Beignets with Blackberry Sauce
  • 1 cup cooked, mashed sweet potato
  • 1/2 cup fresh goat cheese
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/8 cup sugar
  • Pinch salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • Powdered sugar, for garnish

Bake 2 medium sized sweet potatoes in the oven, drizzled with olive oil, at 375 for 15-20 minutes, or until the skin crackles. Out of the oven, cut open and scoop out the flesh. Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl; if using a mixer, use the paddle attachment at medium speed. When the mess has come together into a stick dough, roll into 1 1/2-inch balls (the size of a walnut) and set aside on a plate. They are very sticky, so flour your hands up when forming the balls!

Just before serving, heat 2 to 3 inches of oil (I used canola) in a deep, heavy pot fitted with a deep-frying thermometer to 365 degrees F. If you don't have this device, you can use a turkey thermometer, or heat the oil on medium-high heat for 4 minutes, keeping an eye on the oil to make sure it doesn't smoke or burn. Working in batches, to avoid crowding the pot, fry the balls until golden brown all over, turning with a slotted spoon in the oil to make sure they cook and brown evenly. Between batches, make sure to let the oil return to 365 before starting on the second. Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels, patting lightly. Dust with powdered sugar and serve warm. Alternately, for an equally delicious finish, sprinkle with sea salt and cracked black pepper, and serve with tart apple slices and a spinach salad.

To make the blackberry sauce:

Heat 2 cups of fresh or frozen blackberries with 1/4 cup of water in a pot over medium heat. Add 1/2 cup of sugar (or to taste, use less if you prefer a tart sauce), a dash of cinnamon, and a vanilla bean(or a teaspoon of real vanilla extract). Let sauce come to a simmer, stirring every so often to keep from sticking. Simmer for 20 minutes and serve warm with the beignets.

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