holiday cookie box 2019

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At home the winter holidays are persistently associated with cookies of some sort of another – or at the very least, lemon bars – and starting a couple years ago, a whole mass of cookies in the form of a cookie box.

It’s a lot of cookies of course – previously I brought the box to my old lab or to a party, but this year the box made an appearance at a family dinner after which I divvied up the remainder into ten ribbon-tied bags of cookies as Christmas gifts for friends. Looking at the empty cookie box afterwards, I had a swell of satisfaction like the sort after putting away tree ornaments and having them all fit together into the right number of boxes. I purposefully choose dry and crumbly cookies for the box, types which which travel well and keep for a few days. There’s more premeditated intention to share than my usual bake-first-figure-out-who-to-dump-this-on-later, and I have to say, it’s satisfying. (Perhaps there was also some relief at seeing a rather stressful quantity of cookies have clear purpose.)

These photos are hectic, because for me the holidays are hectic, and this cookie box is meant to be about the cookies and also that hectic time period of cooking and baking and gathering and making things for others. Or so I say. Maybe I was just too excited by the abundance of vaguely relevant props that come out of storage during the holidays.

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candied lemon, pistachio and rosemary biscotti

candied lemon, pistachio and rosemary biscotti – bright, herbaceous and good with black tea. plus how i seem to have lost the art of listening to entire albums, but Elisapie Isaac’s Ballad of the Runaway Girl reminded me to give it a try again (and I gush plenty because I adore the album)

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I genuinely used to buy CDs. I would try to listen to as many songs as I could online first to make sure I was ready to lay down twenty dollars, but once you have a CD, you have all of it – every song. And so you listen to them all.

It’s gotten rarer for me to listen to a whole album now. Often I will like a couple of songs from an album, but only have the vaguest impression of the rest, if any at all. It’s probably in part a sign of the times, along with a whole other slate of changes that streaming has elicited in the music industry. As songs become more standalone, albums have reportedly become long compilations of singles as opposed to a unit meant to be listened to all at once. Or maybe it’s more so my reduced attention span which demands immediate catchiness! that is keeping me from lasting through an album (music has been changing to suit this as well!).

It takes a bit of patience for a whole album listen. Not on shuffle, not mixed into playlists with other songs – often best while going on a walk. When you listen to a whole album, you’re also giving yourself time to get to know it. I find it’s a particular few songs that stick out at first, but on subsequent listens, the quieter, less immediately catchy ones stand out, and later still, the wallflowers.

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golden raisin & walnut tahini oatmeal cookies

a chewy tahini take on oatmeal cookies with golden raisins and walnuts

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Tahini chocolate chip cookies are quite the thing right now. I love the sound of them and can’t wait to give it a try, but what I’m more apt to make and consume are oatmeal cookies – and I thought tahini would go nicely in those as well.

Tahini does – they’re nutty and perfumed, and I chose to pack them with walnuts and golden raisins, but of course choose the fruit and nut that fits your fancy (pistachio/apricot would be stunning I think).

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vanilla rooibos cookies with cashews and caramelized white chocolate

SAM_0793SAM_0754I am currently recovering from the deluge of silence that has fallen upon the household. The bathroom – once a bustling hub of activity – is now desolate: the ants that have made it their home have gone.

Obviously they never cared to venture further than the washroom – the kitchen was just far too passé for these ants.

I suppose this is what it is like to become an empty nester — and it is delightful!

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assorted cookies

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There’s usually been some sort of cookie effort each winter holiday, overambitious at the outset, quite modest by the end, and nothing like the fabled concerted undertaking of my grandmother. As my dad describes, the holidays always necessitated the tart-shaped sandkaker, rolled ginger cookies and the small buttery mounds filled with a dollop of jam.

On the other hand, my mum’s only requirement for the holiday cookie spread was tart lemon bars, while my sister would take the lead on any supplementary baking. My sole contribution began in elementary school when, pouring over the enticing glossy photo spreads from a Company’s Coming cookie book, I became enamoured with the swirled icebox cookies–the perfect slices reminded me of the hidden designs in Pillsbury slice and bake cookies. More recently, Bouchon Bakery‘s speculoos have become the lemon bars’ (the one constant) companion.

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some cookies, for the next time i read a book

oatmeal cookiesSAM_6074SAM_6098Oatmeal cookies, in all their lumpy nooks-and-cragginess make me think of old libraries and crowded bookshelves (I have some screencaps of my favourite book-ish scenes for you below). It’s an odd association, but they seem to be the right cookie for reading dusty hardcovers or thick block-ish softcovers.

As I’ve rambled about before, I hardly read anymore. So while I think these cookies are best with a novel, odds are that I’ll usually settle for a textbook. This summer I’m hoping to do some reading and overall it hasn’t been a bad year.

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black sesame and kinako cookies

The first (and only) time I had warabi mochi, it was still warm. Small scoops on a plate, still jelly-like and delicate, covered with a generous pile of kinako. The kinako was powdery, lightly sweet and wonderfully toasty.

Two things to take away: first, there is a world beyond what I know of mochi, and second, it can be important and eyeopening to eat mochi freshly made, and let’s add a last one: kinako.

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