♦ Bubbe Cookies Redefined

Shaina!

I can’t believe you’re writing about mold and flies and dirt in your kitchen on a cooking blog! No one will want to even try your recipes, let alone eat in your house!

Surely, you exaggerate (a well documented family trait).

Vinegar is supposed to be a great antifungal agent and bleach will kill anything, so please add them to your grocery list and use liberally! Bubbe was the Bleach Queen, so please, if you won’t do it for me, honor her memory by sterilizing your kitchen. You will know you have accomplished this when your fingernails are white and your hands smell like bleach even after your shower.

Jump To Recipe

Speaking of Bubbe..

Bubbe didn’t always have the fanciest kitchen to cook in either, although she would tell you that you can keep even the most horrible kitchen clean.  But she grew into a wonderful cook and a gracious hostess serving her food with love and generosity…just as you do.

Actually, you are way ahead of her, and me for that matter, in the cooking department. At your age, she couldn’t even boil water.  I have had your cooking… it’s creative, healthy, very tasty and, most often, quite beautiful.  I love hearing about what your making and how you do it and I have learned so much from you.  Many of your recipes and food suggestions are now part of my repertoire, although your father and I will never learn to love orange blossom rhubarb!

As far as the aggressive approach..I’m glad to hear it! It’s good for your personal growth!

Back to Bubbe…It’s been just about a year since Bubbe has been gone and I have been reincarnating some of her recipes so that the flavors and memories that were so much a part of her life, can remain a part of ours.  I started with her infamous Bubbe Cookies. Let me know what you think.

In the meantime, I used a lime in the clementine cake, because I didn’t have enough clementines and was too lazy to go to the store to get more.  I haven’t tried the pea mush yet, but it sounds delicious, especially with the yogurt garnish.

Dad and I picked fresh purple hull peas at the farm garden yesterday, so maybe I’ll cook them up and try making your dip.

Fresh peas have got to be as good as frozen!

I look forward to hearing about your next cooking (and cleaning) adventures!

Love, mom xoxoxoxoxooxo

Bubbe Cookies

  • 3/4 C Butter (1 1/2 sticks)1 C Sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 Tblsp Vanilla
  • 3 C Flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • Pinch Salt
  • Zest and Juice from 1/2 large (or whole small) Orange or Lemon
  • 1 C Chocolate Chips
  • Cut up Maraschino Cherries (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 375*
  2. Mix softened butter and sugar together. Add eggs and mix thoroughly.
  3. Mix flour, baking powder and salt together and blend into butter, sugar, egg mixture.
  4. Add zest, juice and vanilla and blend thoroughly. Dough may be a little stiff. Mix in chocolate chips.
  5. Roll into balls and press lightly onto a greased cookie pan (or use parchment paper) an inch apart.
  6. Maraschino cherries cut into small pieces may be pressed into the top of the cookie for added color if desired.
  7. Bake at 375* for 12-15 minutes or until tops and bottoms are lightly browned.
  8. Makes 3-4 dozen.

For true vintage Bubbe cookies, don’t add the chocolate chips to the batter mix. As you roll each cookie, fold in exactly 3 chocolate chips into each individual cookie dough ball before placing it on the cookie sheet. Then every once in awhile, put 4 chips in for a surprise treat, just to keep the cookie eaters on their toes.

This recipe is a guesstimate of the amounts of ingredients in my mother’s (Bubbe’s) version of these cookies because she never gave us a precise recipe…for anything! 

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◊ Chanukah Cookies and a Goat Story

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Dear mom,

I love that our past few posts have been wholly dedicated to turnips and kale. Yum. I wish I had more turnips here, but every time I buy them at the store I’m disappointed by their waxy, tough skin… so different from the ones we get at the farm. But let’s switch the subject. I want to talk about your naked turkey pictures so that I can retract my insults…  because I’m about to up the gross factor a few notches. And I’ll make a confession that I think you’ll be proud of.

IMG_1833I spent last weekend in the woods of Connecticut at Hazon’s Food Conference as an AJWS Food Justice Cohort participant. I learned about domestic food security, probiotics for maintaining gut health, the Farm Bill, international food aid and pickling. But the most memorable part of the conference was a four hour participatory session about shechting (kosher animal slaughter).

Yup. I saw a Rabbi slash through a goat’s neck. I was there as its blood flooded the grass and I watched its body twitch until all life was gone. I observed the meticulous process of making something Kosher – a perfect cut, perfect organs, perfect preparation. We passed around the goat’s lungs and some practiced blowing into them  like blowing up a balloon to make sure there were no perforations (which would nullify Kosherness). I plucked the feathers of bloody chickens still warm with life…  still letting out occasional squawks despite their deadness. I volunteered to rip a chicken’s head off, but it was too slimy with blood to get a good grip and I wasn’t strong enough to make the full tear. Yes, this is your daughter speaking.

The night before the slaughter, I attended a panel discussion about the shechting process and realized why there are so many Jewish vegetarians:  in our culture, animal slaughter is real. I don’t think that most people recognize food-meat as dead animal. But in elementary school, I learned that in order for us (Jews) to eat meat, an animal has to be cut with a knife sharp enough  sever all of its arteries in one deep blow. And it’s stayed with me.

During the panel discussion, some asked why Kosher meat is considered more elevated in God’s eyes than meat that is humanely raised/free range. I’m not sure that kosher slaughter is any more humane than other forms of animal meat processing – but I do know that it’s meticulous regulations connect me to the life of the animal and the process in which it’s killed. And maybe that’s the point? If we’re conscious about where meat comes from, maybe we won’t eat it so recklessly.

The night before the slaughter, I had the most vivid animal dreams. My best friend was a camel who sat next to me in math class every day. There were bears in my class too. We could talk to one another.

I woke up nervous. I’ve been a vegetarian since childhood. Could I handle watching a goat beheaading and decapitation? I felt my stomach drop as I walked to the site.

Surprisingly, I was totally fine. In fact, I was mesmerized. The goat’s insides were beautiful. The color of its liver was deep and its the texture of its lungs was like spongy foam; its flesh held patterns like computer generated art –  concise angles, lines and repetition; the way that the hide separated from its muscle without breaking the tissue was perfect. I almost enjoyed the transformation from goat to food.

Here’s my confession. I tasted goat that day. I could barely swallow, but I had to do it.

I don’t have the desire to eat meat again, but realized that putting a McDonalds hamburger to my mouth (who knows where that meat comes from?) is way grosser than sticking my hands inside a freshly slaughtered goat. I think my vegetarianism is on the right path.

Phewww.

And I appreciate your confidence in the things you’ve enabled me to do that you expressed in your last letter (even if it is shechting a goat)… but I’m not totally sold.  Who let’s their kid sit down in the middle of the field during a game? And then tells her she did a good job? Opting out from boredom without repercussions may be the root of my problems. I’m gonna whoop my kid’s butt if he/she pulls something like that.

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Anyway. This will be my first full weekend in DC since mid October and I can’t wait to have a few days to breath. Despite the chill  outside, I can’t believe we’re into the thick of Chanukah and Christmas is on its way.

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When we were trying to think of some Chanukah classics while I was home, you reminded me of the blue jello Chanukah “jigglers” in the shapes of Jewish stars you used to make for me and my friends when we were kids (and the following urgent calls to my pediatrician, why is my daughter’s poop BRIGHT GREEN?!). Those jigglers were the best, and I was inspired to make something just as fun (but a bit classier) for Chanukah this year. So I made the cookies featured below for my office cookie swap. If your jigglers married Bubbe’s kasha and bows, they would birth this newest cookie invention. Just trust me on this one. These Chanukah honey buckwheat shortbread were a HUGE hit.

IMG_1803Chanukah Honey Buckwheat Shortbread

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup buckwheat flour
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 tbs sea salt
  • 6 dates chopped
  • 1/2 c hazelnuts chopped
  • dash of clove powder
  • 1/2 tbs vanilla

Mix flours together. In a separate bowl, beat the sugar, salt and butter until smooth. Add chopped dates, hazelnuts, vanilla and clove powder. Add flour and mix until dough forms. Form dough into ball and refrigerate for at least two hours.

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Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll dough into a sheet that’s 1/4 inch thick. Use cookie cutters to shape cookies. Place cookies at least an inch apart on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush glaze onto cookies before putting them into oven.

Bake for 10 – 13 minutes, until edges begin to brown. Let cool completely and enjoy!

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Zesty sesame glaze:

  • 1/3 of a small avocado
  • 1/3 c honey
  • juice of one lemon
  • 2 tbs lemon zest
  • 4 tbs sesame seeds
  • dash of clove powder
  • blue food coloring

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Mash avocado until creamy with the back of a fork (or blend in food processor) until fibers can no longer be seen. Stir in remaining ingredients.

Chocolate Buckwheat Dreidles

I need to keep experimenting with these to get them right… I tried using spelt flour, but the “dreidle” shape melted in the oven. They were tasty despite their ugliness and I have hope for them in the future. If anyone has any suggestions, send ’em my way!

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  • 1 cup spelt flour
  • 1 cup buckwheat flour
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2/3 tbs celtic sea salt
  • 4 oz shaved dark chocolate
  • 1/2 tbs vanilla

Same directions as above. The chocolate “topping” was avocado, cocoa powder and honey.

◊ “Are These Cookies Vegan?”

Mom,

White finger nails from bleach? I think I’ll stick with the fruit flies. There’s no need to go to extremes.

It’s just that I live with 5 people and what can I say… We’re all busy bees in our 20s with no sense of personal or communal responsibility.  But we have homemade fruit fly catchers set up everywhere (fill a bottle with vinegar and cover with saran wrap – easy as pea dip!). And you’ll be very proud that we recently implement a system to keep our sink area more tidy! Each time a housemate washes extra dishes in the sink, or puts away dishes in the sink rack, he/she get’s a sticker! Look at mine.

Are you beaming? If Bubbe saw my sticker chart, she’d call me a balabusta and life would be complete.

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I made her cookies.

And when a dinner guest asked, “Are these cookies Vegan?” I responded with a better question: “Are they edible?”

I’m not sure whether I should take, “Are these cookies Vegan?” as a complement or an insult. I really can’t decide. I think it’s an insult. But vegan food is trendy and complex, so maybe it means the cookies seem fancy… which would be a complement. But if they have butter and eggs, shouldn’t they taste like they have butter and eggs? Isn’t that the point?  Do these cookies taste like sandpaper?

Are they edible?

Remember how Bubbe asked that about all of her food?

As we’re shoving her food into our faces — is it edible?

But sometimes her cookies were not edible.  You were spared because Bubbe knows you can’t eat sugar. But she forced those freezer-burned, sandpaper rocks onto all of the kids each time we went to her house. It was a treat when I was little — I ate the cookies four or five at a time, and felt great about it (hence my childhood obesity) because it made Bubbe happy!

 

Is it right that she put 3 chocolate chips in each cookie? Or was it 6? And the memories of eating them right before bed paired with chunks of velveta cheese! What a delicacy!

Velveta cheese by the chunk for a special bed time snack. Omg.

In the later years, I perfected the art of fake cookie eating. I quickly situated Bubbe cookies in my pockets so that they wouldn’t bulge too much and plunged them at sidewalks from my car window after I had driven out of sight, always fearing that the chocolate would melt in my pants if I kept them there too long. Though it would probably take hours for those rocks to thaw after a lifetime in the freezer. Emptying my pockets of cookies crumbs before I put them back in my closet became habitual.  And Bubbe still thought they were my favorite food – mission accomplished.

I wanted to take a stab at your recipe for nostalgia. Can you believe it’s almost one year since her death? I can still feel the cookie crumbs rubbing against my thighs. What happened to the contents of her freezer (and the ginormous tub itself!)  when you sold her house? Surely there was a stash of goods.

I think my versions of Bubbe cookies were edible.. at least no one hid them in their pockets.

I added the juice of a whole orange instead of half, and lots and lots of zest, which is key. As for the maraschino cherries… where do you even find those? Ew.

I also used half the amount of butter you call for.  And, I didn’t count the chocolate chips – a luxury that I should thank you for.  (Whose mom sends her home with a 15 pound bag of dark chocolate chips after each visit?  Mine, Arielle’s, and probably hundreds of other Jewish mothers across the country.) Thank you for enabling me to use chocolate chips freely.

To conclude, these cookies shouldn’t be marketed as chocolate chip cookies, because it confuses people. They ask, are these cookies vegan?

No. They’re Bubbe cookies. And no one talks about my Bubbe that way.

Love ya!

Shaina

Bubbe Cookies Redefined Again

  • 1/2 C Butter
  • 3/4 C Sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • Lots of Vanilla
  • 3 C Flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • Sea Salt
  • Zest and Juice from large orange
  • Dark Chocolate Chips Galore

Mix and mash – Bake in 375 degrees.

◊ Telling stories

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Dear mom,

My grown-up person is strange to me too. In my first hours back from Israel and Palestine, I went straight to laundry, grocery shopping and my life (my life = finding space for the 4 liters of tahini I schlepped across the ocean, scheduling meetings with professors, filing recipes, going to a spin class). These endeavors were far from my usual homecoming routine — my luggage dump onto the hallway floor, my jet-lagged memory-mumble and slow crawl into bed, my early-rise to a full fridge and piles of neatly folded, clean clothes.

My grown-up person embraces the laundry/grocery life with ease and excitement; it is puzzled at how readily I snap back to childhood when I’m home.

Contrary to your verdict, I will always be a child at home regardless of how much junk I clean from my room. I have no doubt that you’ll have plenty more chances to wash my dirty clothes and make me breakfast on demand. Consider yourself lucky to be spared from my late-night, half-formed reflection-thoughts on Jewish-Arab relations, snow in a Mediterranean climate, Palestinian traditions, the transcontinental strength of our family’s genetic traits.

The story I was reporting in Israel and Palestine is about best friends and business partners –  a Palestinian and a Jewish Israeli – who collect and sell embroidery together. They requested I not use their names because of potential backlash.

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I completed my reporting goals – 10 interviews, 5 photo shoots, lots of meetings – and now I have to write it all up. I also spent plenty of time catching up with family, hanging out with friends and taking long walks alone. I had a great time, but I won’t be able to call my trip successful until I’ve written the article. It will take some time to develop so many different experiences into memories and meaningful stories. Shwai shwai, liat liat, slowly slowly.

dried sage leaves in the kitchen

dried sage leaves in the kitchen

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I spent two nights with the Palestinian business partner and learned a lot about her life in Bethlehem. She reminds me of you – her hands never stop cooking, sewing, embroidering, cleaning, preparing. Everything in her house, from olive oil soap to sheep’s milk cheese to embroidered cushion-covers and table clothes, she cultivated with her own hands. For breakfast, we ate olives that she picked and cured herself, green leaves she collected from the Jewish Israeli’s front yard and sautéed with onion and garlic, and kaak ma’amoul that she made late at night.

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Kaak ma’amoul are traditional Palestinian date-filled, sweet cookies. I had eaten them before, but the way that this woman made them without sugar in the dough was different and oddly nostalgic.

Her kaak ma’amoul are simple: dough – white flour, oil, water and fennel seeds – wrapped around spiced date puree. The mild dough against sticky dates reminded me of Bubbe’s oily strudel stuffed with spiced raisins. While I was reporting, I noticed many such parallels among Jewish and Palestinian traditions and daily life. Also, the ways in which many of the Jewish Israelis and Palestinians that I spoke with described their feelings toward one another were strikingly similar.

“When you don’t know people, you get afraid,” the Jewish Israeli friend said. “But when you see them you get unafraid.”

“I wanted them to meet Israelis to see that they are human like us and we are all like each other,” the Palestinian friend said.

People are afraid of the unknown. When they are separated, they do not interact and fear persists. Fear dominates.

Bethlehem

Bethlehem

This is why I went back to Israel and Palestine over my winter break. This is why I study journalism. Sometimes I feel that the only way to introduce humans to one another – to cross borders, create groundwork for dialogue, dilute fear in a small way – is to tell stories. Thus, I can’t call my trip a success until I write the story! I can’t call my trip a success until I highlight, in a small way, humanity on both sides of the wall.

xo,

Shaina

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I recreated the Kaak Ma’amoul I ate in Bethlehem as soon as I got back to my kitchen. Inspired by Bubbe cookies, I added plenty of orange zest and juice. I also substituted whole-wheat flour for white flour. As you can see from the picture, they didn’t come out pretty… I think pretty kaak ma’amoul is one of those things that takes practice.

*note: Most kaak ma’amoul is made with sweet, yeasted dough (sometimes with semolina in addition to wheat flour). This is not the traditional recipe.

Kaak Ma’amoul

Prep time: 1 hour

Makes 20 – 30 cookies

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Dough:

  • 2 ½ C whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup olive oil, plus more for greasing
  • ½ cup warm water
  • 1 tbs orange zest
  • 2 tbs fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp sea salt

Filling:

  • 1 cup dates, pitted
  • ½ tsp cardmom, ground
  • ½ tsp cloves, ground
  • ½ tsp cinnamon, ground
  • juice of one medium orange

Mix the flour, oil, water, orange zest, fennel seeds and salt with a stand mixer or knead with your hands until dough is smooth and stretchy. Put dates, spices and orange juice in food processor and blend into a smooth paste

Heat oven to 375. Divide dough into 25 – 30 balls (1 ½ in each). Divide paste into the same number of balls, but keep each ball half the size of the each dough ball.

Roll each dough ball into a 4 x 1 inch rectangle. Wet hands, and roll paste ball into thin log. Place date log into dough and fold dough around it (like a tube). Roll the log/tube in your hands until smooth. Fold the dough log into a circle and seal it into a closed ring by pinching the ends together (you may have to use some water to get it to stick). Place circles on baking sheet and cook until golden, around 25 minutes.

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Recipe Index

mainsSidesBakedSweets

 

 

 

 

JewishIndianSouthernQuinoa Kale

 

 

 

 

VeganVegetarianGluten Free Rawcleanselow carb

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mains

Sides

Sweets

Baked

Gluten Free

Raw

Cleanse

Vegan

Vegetarian

Jewish

Southern

Indian

Quinoa+Kale

Low Carb

Recipe Index 1

Mains

Sides and Extras

Sweets and Desserts

♦ Meant To Be

Dear Shaina,

So what, exactly, does switching it up look like?

You: I’m worried about you… Should you still be driving, is your house too big for you to take care of, why do you have so much stuff?!
Soon enough.

Me: Let’s travel to exotic places and spend all our money on extended VRBO rentals, new furniture, house remodeling projects, yoga classes, dental work, more stuff, etc…we’ll try to fit in a visit to you.
Working on it now.

No, you do not sound like a stressy 20-something deep in crisis. Who doesn’t need a bi-monthly pep talk?…I love you just the way you are and I think you’re great! Does that count for this month? That’s never gonna change.

Happy to switch it up. You go first!

I am enjoying a no Labor Day weekend with a stay-at-home cooking marathon in preparation for Rosh Hashanah. It is such a luxury to cook in advance and not have to fit all the holiday preparation details in between working hours. The chicken soup, brisket, honey cakes, apple cakes and potato blintzes (a first for me) are done.

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The potato blintzes are a hybrid recipe; crepe dough from Bubbe’s cheese blintzes and the potato filling from her knishes. I made the crepe batter in my Vita Mix and it took 30 seconds and not even one lump! My Cuisinart effortlessly chopped the onions and blended the potatoes and fried onions. I used all my pots and pans and extra large bowls to boil potatoes, sauté onions, mix the filling, make the crepes and flash freeze it all. I pretty much trashed the kitchen, overfilled all my freezers and sampled enough fried onions and potato filling to have attached them to my DNA… if that is possible.

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I love what you are doing with the cleanse this year. Although I am fortunate to not have to worry about how much I spend on groceries, I learned at the hands of a master who taught me how to love grocery shopping and create healthy, nourishing, satisfying and tasty meals on a very tight budget.

My mother (Bubbe) always researched the food specials of the week and bought whatever she could on sale. Even after she couldn’t go to the grocery store herself, she gave me a list of what to buy each week…and I did. She hand-picked each green bean, each apple, each cherry to make sure she got the freshest items (no wasteful rotten spots for her). She never spent money on plastic storage bags or containers (she reused the food containers and plastic bags that her purchases came packaged in) and she never, ever threw out food (leftovers are what you eat the next day). We never had soft drinks or chips or candy in our house unless their was a party. She bought very little processed food and made almost everything from scratch. The things we thought we were missing out on (Oreo cookies and Wonder Bread for me) turned out to be not so good for us anyway.

It’s Rosh Hashana. It’s Zayde’s yahrsteit. I’m cooking Bubbe’s food. You are promoting a cleanse that raises personal awareness and global consciousness about food justice. I’m thinking that things are just as they were meant to be.

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Wishing you the sweetest of New Years and may we all make it into the Big Book of Life for a safe, healthy and productive year to come!

Love,
Mom
xooxoxxoxoxo
Red Cabbage Slaw

I am serving this Red Cabbage Slaw at our erev Rosh Hashanah dinner this year. It has apples and honey in honor of the holiday and it’s an easy do-ahead dish that doesn’t require oven space. Other than the honey, it can be prepared Cleanse friendly and it is very cost efficient. A head of red cabbage makes a whole lot of slaw! And it gets better the longer it sits. If you are preparing this for the Cleanse, but want some additional sweetness, omit the honey and add a half cup of raisins ($.50).

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Yield – 20 servings
Total Cost: $8.35
Cost per serving: $.42

  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil ($.50)
  • 1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice with the zest from the lemon used for the juice ($1.00)
  • 2 teaspoons honey (.20)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 head of red cabbage, thinly sliced ($1.50)
  • 2-3 large carrots, grated into thin strips ($.40)
  • 1 large apple, cut in small pieces ($.75)
  • 8-12 ounces of sugar snap peas, thinly sliced crosswise ($4.00)

Whisk oil, lemon juice and zest, honey and salt and pepper to taste in a large bowl. Add remaining ingredients and toss together. Adjust salt and pepper as needed.

Refrigerate for a few hours or overnight before serving.

◊ #Blessed

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Dear mom,

#blessed #food #childhoodobseity #notreally

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#Bubbe. Bubbe interacted with us, her grandkids, almost solely via food. She fried blintzes for us, she peeled potatoes with us, she scooped us ice cream, she counted the chocolate chips that went into each cookie she force-fed us. We schlepped her to the grocery store, we brought her butter, we enlisted her in apple-chopping, we ate and ate and ate.

Bubbe showered us with indulgence. She conveyed gratitude, love, power, comfort, something, everything, through food. We — I — inherited this mechanism to cope with my own gratitude, power, drive, something. It feels good to make things.

But why so much?

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Why do you make over 300 hamantachen at once? Why do I cook for 20 when I’m hosting a dinner for 5? Why are the only posts in our family whatsapp group pictures of food and injuries from pushing ourselves too hard? Is it genetic that we, the grandkids, can’t sit still… that we thrive off of extremes? That we wake up one day and decide that baking 99 recipes will be fun? Your inheritance was an appetite for survival… is it part of ours too?

Our #blessings are also our neuroses.

Yes, food is metaphor. Our approach to it reflects our anxieties, values, loyalties. It shows our evolution.

Xo,

Shaina

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Around this time of year during my childhood, I’d be sick from Bubbe’s hamantaschen. As soon as the latke parties ended, she’d bust out the flour, jam and “hoil.” In her later years, she made Valentines Day cookies out of hamantachen material. She’d shape the dough into little hearts that she copied from playing cards, and topped them with strawberry jam and chocolate chips. I know she copied the heart shape from playing cards because one year she messed up and made cookies in the shape of spades. She still called them hearts. It was like how she used to make pizza with Velveta cheese.

I decided to pull a Bubbe and mix two cultures into one: I made traditional Persian cookies and added my own “filling” to retain the feel of hamantaschen.

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These cookies, called Nan-e Nokhodchi, are delicate gluten-free Persian cookies, usually decorated with a single pistachio. They are a perfect accompaniment to normal hamantaschen or a holiday alternative for those who keep a gluten-free diet.

DSCF2068Cardamom Scented Persian Cookies with Date Filling

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 5 tbs ground cardamom
  • 2 Tbs. rose water (the kind for baking)
  • 4 ½ cups fine chickpea flour
  • ½ tsp fine sea salt

Garnish:

  • 1 cup dates
  • ½ cup raw almonds
  • 1 tbs ground cardamom
  • 1 tbs rose water
  • pinch of sea salt
  • ¼ cup raw pistachios

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Cream butter with sugar, egg yolk, cardamom, and rose water in bowl. Add chickpea flour and mix well until lumps dissolve. Cover the bowl with foil or plastic wrap, and place in fridge to sit for at least one hour.

In the meantime, combine almonds, dates, cardamom, rose water and sea salt in a food processor until a paste forms.

When dough has sat for one hour, preheat oven to 300 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper. Using a teaspoon, scoop a spoonful of dough from the bowl and place into your hand. Roll the dough gently forming a ball in your hands. Press your thumb into the middle of the ball to form a dip in the cookie. This will flatten the cookie.

Fill each “thumbprint” with the date and almond paste and top with a single pistachio.  Line the cookies onto baking sheets and bake for 30 minutes until edges are brown.

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◊ One hundred percent

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Dear mom,

You abandon the blog for over a month. You call your Mahjong game an obligation. You amount your bathroom renovation to chaos.

Please.

It’s not hard to send me a recipe. Playing games with your friends isn’t a thing. Having a messy bedroom and beautiful bath does not = disaster. Why are these things consuming you?

I’m annoyed because what do you do?

(Laundry isn’t a thing.)

I’m annoyed because I get it and it worries me.

I think I was in 6th grade when I decided that I wanted Puma sneakers. We took a trip to New York to visit family, and you and I spent the first three days fiending for shoes. We mapped out every store in the city that carried Pumas and walked all of Manhattan. At the end of the three days, we found THE Puma factory store, which housed every model in every color. I cried there. The search commenced with a dark-grey suede pair of shoes with red stripes (not cute). They are still sitting in my closet… I maybe wore them twice.

It’s a good thing dad is tolerant of high levels of crazy.

You give 100% every time. It’s a trait that I admire, and a trait that, in my own life, I try to keep in check. It’s too easy to get sucked in – to be totally consumed — by the small things.

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classic family portrait

Pumas in New York, beads in Vancouver, hair-wraps in New Orleans, sweatshirts in San Fransisco, antiques in DC, textiles in India, hermit crabs at the beach. Our family vacations were driven by searches for things that we couldn’t find in Birmingham. My memories make me nervous that we … I… do not know how to enjoy time without something driving me towards an end goal (which has usually amounted to nothing).

Our search for Pumas was torture, but it was fun. The shoes were a catalyst of exploration and togetherness. We walked all of Manhattan and saw so many new things … together.

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Now that you’re retired, your vacation is permanent. Laundry is a thing; Majong is a thing; bathroom renovations are a thing. I ask for help making desserts for Cari’s wedding and you bake, decorate, wrap and deliver 100 individual cakes. It doesn’t surprise me. Even Bubbe, without child-rearing obligations or a proper job, found reasons to wake up at 4 AM. She had to bake hundreds of knishes for … you know …  people.

You enter the most confusing stage of motherhood and ask questions that, in my opinion, are not worth thinking about. All I can say is that the situation is not so confusing. You have time to dwell, so you dwell. How much space defines a close mother-daughter relationship? Ain’t no one got time to decipher that. Except for you.

xo,

Shaina

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I just moved to a house closer to campus. In shifting pantries, I found one milllllion baggies of different seeds and nuts. Instead of re-organizing all the bits and pieces in my new house, I dumped them all into these biscotti and started fresh.

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Honey Orange Whole Wheat Biscotti with Dates and Almonds/Pumpkin seeds/Pistachios

Prep time: 1.5 hours

Makes 3 dozen cookies

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  • 3 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Zest of two full oranges
  • juice of one orange
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 c dates, finely chopped
  • 1/3 c slivered almonds
  • 1/2 c pumpkin seeds (optional)
  • 1/2 c shelled, raw (unsalted) pistachios (optional)

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Preheat oven to 300 degrees F and line baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.  In a large bowl beat the honey, eggs, oil, zest, orange juice and vanilla until combined. In batches add the dry ingredients until the mixture forms a dough. Fold in the nuts (you do not have to use every variety of nut listed here – I suggest choosing one). Knead several times and then shape into a log (about a foot long, 3-4 in wide). Put log onto baking sheet and bake for 30 – 35 minutes until slightly brown and dry. Remove and allow to cool.

 

Once dough is cool, cut into 1/2 inch diagonal slices with a serrated knife (saw rather than chop – make sure not to push too hard). Arrange pieces on s baking sheet so they are facing up. Bake for ten minutes (shorter or longer depending on thickness of cookie) and flip. Bake for another ten minutes until hard and lightly browned. 

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Buckwheat and Rye Biscotti with Fig, Walnuts and Dark Chocolate Chunks

Prep time: 1.5 hours

makes 3 dozen cookies

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  • 1 c  dark rye flour
  • 2 c buckwheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1/4c olive oil
  • 1/2 c dired figs, finely chopped (8-10 figs)
  • 1/3 cup walnut pieces (small!)
  • 1/3 c good dark chocolate chunks/chips
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F and line baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder and salt.  In a large bowl beat the sugar, eggs and oil until combined. In batches add the dry ingredients until the mixture forms a dough. Fold in the nuts, figs and chocolate. Knead several times and then shape into a log (about a foot long, 3-4 in wide). Put log onto baking sheet and bake for 30 – 35 minutes until slightly brown and dry. Remove and allow to cool.

Once dough is cool, cut into 1/2 inch diagonal slices with a serrated knife (saw rather than chop – make sure not to push too hard). Arrange pieces on s baking sheet so they are facing up. Bake for ten minutes (shorter or longer depending on thickness of cookie) and flip. Bake for another ten minutes until hard and lightly browned. 

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♦ Attachment…Not Such a Bad Thing

Dear Shaina,

Although I admire your efforts to waste nothing (you got that from Bubbe and me), I must admit I was a little overwhelmed (horrified) by the remnants of all those little bits and pieces strewn about in the most unlikely places throughout your house (maybe a few traits from your father’s side, too). Packing up a life, even under the best conditions, is a messy dirty process and yours ranked right up there. As far as getting everything into the car…was there a choice?!

You thought you could put all your stuff in a few bags, plus your backpack and carry-on luggage for India, and hop on the bus to New York and somehow get to New Jersey to store your stuff and then take off for India…all by yourself.  No wonder you felt calm…you were delusional!!  I could say, you owe me, but in truth, we will be leaving you with enough stuff (we are all so attached to our STUFF) to make up for all the packing I could possibly do for you.  Know that you have my full permission to dispose of all of our junk, when the time comes, in whatever way you want!  In the meantime, I am inspired to do some cleaning out…for your sake.

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So here I sit…left with a super-high-end, not so clean blender, some exotic teas and a plastic container full of pungent spices, about all of which I am clueless.  I will touch them, smell them, gaze upon them and maybe even use them…just to feel your presence as you move further away on this leg of your life’s journey. I will watch anxiously for your infrequently meted out emails designed to assure me of your existence as opposed to inform me of the intricacies of your very foreign life. You are ever-present and notably absent from my days.

IMG_0825My world does revolve around you (parents of only children also process things differently). I am attached!  And despite my attachment, I am proud of you and honored to be the packer, schlepper and guardian of your material attachments.They are the promise that I will be reconnecting with you before I even get a chance to clean out my own closet.

Dad just returned from his week-long ski trip. We have been traveling in different directions for the past month. I’m not quite the same without him…a little lost, less motivated and a bit restless… even slightly disoriented. It wasn’t that I stopped living…I exercised and played mahjong and watered the plants and went out with friends and did the laundry…all the while enduring a sort of fuzziness around the edges of my being.

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Home Again!

We’re both finally back at home, together.  I went to yoga, he watered the plants, I made breakfast, he went through the mail, I did the laundry, he built a fire…and we sit together in the living room, taking in the misty fog outside, as he reads and I write.  My fuzziness has faded. It seems a bit retro to admit that the fullness and clarity in my life is so dependent on the daily presence of the man I live with. It’s a little scary, too. I am clearly attached. And, it’s really not such a bad thing…

Where are you anyway?  We want to hear from you. We miss you!  After all, we are very attached!

Love,
Mom
xoxoxoxooxooxoxoxoxoxoox

P.S. I haven’t done much cooking lately, but I did prepare a few comfort foods to get us through these rainy dreary days. All recipes are vegetarian and gluten free to accommodate the needs of friends, but everyone seems to like them anyway.

Mock Chopped Liver:


This makes a great vegetarian, gluten free appetizer served with crackers, chips, carrots, sugar snap peas or any veggie you like.
Very easy to prepare in a food processor.  Makes about 4 cups.

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  • 1 small raw onion
  • 1 ½ cups walnuts
  • 3  14.5 ounce cans of cut green beans well drained
  • 3 hard boiled eggs
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Put all ingredients, in the order listed, into the large chopping bowl of a food processor using the chopping blade.

Pulse until all the ingredients are chopped and blended together.

Continue processing for another 30 seconds or more until the mixture is a smooth but still slightly grainy in consistency.

Add plenty of salt and pepper to taste.

May be garnished with chopped hard boiled egg, olives or parsley.

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Easy Split Pea Soup:
This hearty and healthy soup is great on cold winter nights, even in Birmingham, Alabama.

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  • 2 – 3 cups dried green or yellow split peas
  • 6 -8 cups Vegetarian broth or water mixed with soup powder or  bouillon
  • 1 large onion
  • 3-4 carrots
  • 3-4 stalks of celery with leaves
  • 4-6 cloves garlic
  • 2 Tblsp fresh basil or 2 tsp dried
  • 1 apple peeled and cut in small pieces
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp (or more) cumin (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Rinse split peas and put in a large pot with 6 cups of broth or water with bouillon, soup mix or any other soup flavoring.

Bring to a boil and simmer peas while preparing vegetables. Stir occasionally.

Put onions, carrots, celery and garlic in a food processor and chop into small pieces.  They don’t need to be pulverized.

Throw chopped vegetables into the partially cooked peas and continue to cook on a low flame stirring occasionally.

Add chopped apple and continue cooking on a low flame until all ingredients are tender (about 30-40 minutes).

Add spices, salt and pepper to taste.

When vegetables cooked through, blend in the pot with a stick immersion blender.

Add water and adjust spices if soup is too thick.

Options:
3-4 Tblsp of white wine or red wine wine vinegar can be added if you like.
To vary the flavor, try adding Indian spices to the mix.
Garnish with a dollop of sour cream or Greek yogurt, parsley, or dill.

The kind of day to stay home and make soup...

The kind of day to stay home and make soup and cookies…

 

Gluten Free Oatmeal Peanut Butter-Chocolate Chip-Raisin Cookies:

Bring all ingredients to room temperature. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Makes 4-5 dozen cookies.

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  • ¼  cup butter
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ¾ cup regular sugar and 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tblsp vanilla
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • ¾ cup Chocolate chips
  • ½ cup peanut butter chips
  • ½ cup raisins or currants

Mix sugar, brown sugar and butter together.

Add eggs, vanilla and baking soda and mix well.

Mix in peanut butter & oats.

Add chocolate chips, peanut butter chips and raisins.

Mix everything together.

Place 1 inch flattened balls of dough on a lightly greased cookie sheet (or use parchment paper) about 2 inches apart

Bake for 12 minutes

Enjoy!

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