The miracle of Christmas for me isn't what you might imagine it would be. The real miracle is that I make it through the C-R-A-Z-Y. This is my second round of cookie baking. The first round of cookie-palooza went out in boxes and packages. I love doing this and it sort of makes me happy--for a bit. Then there is the second needed push I have for that little extra that I set aside for just us--and when I find it, I know it. I found it in this cookie. For what it's worth, I am thrilled I took a little extra time to "find" just the perfect, newest cookie recipe to try. Thrilled because this cookie--filled with warm cinnamon, ginger, allspice, nutmeg and then chocolate!, and citrus--met all my criteria for a superb trifecta of delicious and solved the problem of blah-Christmas-cookie-baking doldrums. (And kept me from going nuts chasing a five month old Pyrenees puppy out from under the Christmas tree for the one hundredth time. . .Gahhhh!)
The unbearable stress I inevitably manage to navigate through (and I know I'm not alone here, and really, is all this whining going to solve anything--for heaven's sakes, it's the dark days compounded on TOP of it all. . . I'm sure. . . isn't it?) that leaves me completely unable to do much more than sit, knit, sip and nap. Honestly. It gets that bad. The other night, I had a meeting to attend. I know full well I am in no condition to be socializing in this state--much less sitting and maybe "lean in" here and there to utter a viewpoint. It's torture. Then there is DH and his "work" obligations. Nearly as traumatic as "family". (But I have so little family--my sister, that I have no complaints. . . however, DH and HIS family, well, that novel is yet to be written.) And we managed a visit to a dear, long time friend of mine and her beau and well, it always grounds me to visit a friend. Because like family, I have few, but the ones I do have I hold very close and dear. It renews my faith in humanity to connect with the past that way.
Oh and then there was a "surprise-just-thought-we'd-drop-in visit". This was a complete and utter unexpected sort of drop-in. He is the father of my high school best friend and we go so far back, there is a book to be written about her and I as well and how our whole "introduction" came about because we suspect he had an affair with my mother. So long story short, in the midst of a very busy day, I get a call and he's all, "Hey, I'm ten minutes away. . . mind if I drop by?" What else can you say but yes, sure, "would love to see you!" And then, he calls from the car as he nears the house, "We're almost there!" What? What is this "we" business? Well turns out my best friend's father--in his mid seventies mind you, has found the NEW love of his life and he can't wait to show me. Because I am what he calls "his other daughter"--and it's been this way since I was fourteen. (This sort of gets complicated for reasons I am not liberty to go into much further here, but just know--the "surprise" has all just been shared with my best friend one day prior--so she is "in the know" but sort of a mess over it as one would expect because the man is. . . still married. See what I mean. It's complicated. But makes for great TV. Books. Movies.) Well visit we did. The conversations and texts that followed between my best friend and me, well, those were priceless and one can only say, Wish You Were Here!
Along with cookies, I am in the middle of reading some novels (right now: The Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill), knitting (a lot), listening to the "Serial" podcast, and simply trying to stay focused and "settle" (like I try to tell Frankie to do when we practice good and calm commands--"settle" is a great command for both humans and canines. Knitting is a great way to "settle").
Woke up to a very Midwest Winter Day. Snowy. Overcast. I think in the last two weeks we've had one day of for-real sunshine. I am beginning to understand the pull some of the elderly feel (not that we're elderly. . . I mean, you are only as old as you feel--and I feel, well, today a feel eighty--but most of the time, I feel a solid forty) as it relates to going "some place sunny". But I swore many years ago I'd never be "one of those" people. So meh. We just deal and cram our faces with more chocolate and seek the comforts of the little things: like great cookies.
I would recommend making this cookie as soon as you have the time. And then save them for yourself. They are that good. Dr. Thyme prefers ginger this time of year to a cookie on this order. I told him, "There's a brick and a half of Ghiradelli in these, what's not to love?" So I did also make him a ginger biscotti and if I get the energy to post about it, should try to do so before Xmas.
The currants soaking in orange juice. *If you don't have currants, just sub raisins. I'd chop them up a bit first.
OMG. Frankie is five months old this week--nearly sixty pounds. Time flies.
Vegan Spice Cookie
*Adapted from Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi
makes about 24 cookies
3/4 cup currants (or chopped up raisins)
juice of half an orange
1 3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/8 cup spelt flour
2 tablespoons cocoa (I used Hershey's)
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 oz. bittersweet baking chocolate chopped (I used Ghiradelli)
1/2 cup vegan butter (one stick of Earth Balance)
2/3 cup sugar
1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil mixed with 2 tablespoons of water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
zest of half a lemon
zest of half an orange
some candied orange peel cut into small pieces
For the glaze:
juice of half a lemon
1 1/3 cup powdered sugar
Soak the currants/raisins in the orange juice for thirty minutes. In a medium bowl, add all dry ingredients and spices and chocolate and whisk well to combine. Cut the vegan butter into pieces and place in a mixing bowl and add sugar and vanilla, oil and water and mix well with a blender just until it's combined--no need to go all crazy here--you still want it to be chunky a bit. Then add the currants and dry ingredients to the wet along with the zests and the mix just begins to come together. Form the dough into balls about the size of walnuts (I used a small cookie scoop). Place the cookies on a cookie sheet and put in fridge for about a half hour. While the cookie dough rests, Preheat oven to 375. Remove the cookies from fridge and bake for about 20 minutes. While cookies bake, prep the glaze and chop up the orange peel. Remove cookies from oven and allow to cool for five minutes. Then, remove from cookie sheets and place on a cooling rack placed over another cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Drizzle the glaze over each cookie using a teaspoon. Then place the cut up orange over the cookies--and drizzle again. Allow the cookies to completely cool. Store in an airtight container. These will keep for about a week. Enjoy!