The serious cookie baking has begun. Last week, I was hard pressed to get something together to take as a hostess gift. I had stocked up on a bag of toasted sesame seeds I'd purchased on The Hill (St. Louis Italian food destination), in hopes of a cookie exactly like this. Little did I know I shared an affinity for the sesame seed. I arrived at my BFFs with gift in hand and we nearly ate the ENTIRE tray of these cookies before they ever made it to her mother's house! Some things never change: cookie love and best friends. I have made two more batches of this sesame seed cookie since then. Need I say more about their lusciousness? I've been savoring them in the afternoon as a mid-day pick-me-up and in the evenings with a cup of tea before bed. They are THE cookie of 2013. If you want to jump to the recipe below, feel free to do so. They come together in a snap and travel well, too. Meantime, let me backtrack a bit about girlfriend and me.
Lori and me wearing our "bling" and laughing. . . always laughing.
This is one of my BFFs, Lori. We met in 1984 (thirty years ago!). And as she likes to tell it, I was a bit of an itch-bay upon our first introduction. I still find this incredibly overstated--the way she waxes on about how much I had the whole look down my nose air about me. I'll admit, I can be aloof and a bit of a snob (inherited trait from my mother), but the "B"? Pleeese. She was hired on to work in the same retail store I was working at the time. Coincidentally, so was another BFF (they are both counted as the "two of three" of my ALL time besties in my life, or my Three Amigos as I affectionately refer to them). Boy the stories we can tell about Those Days. WE could all write a book.
Lori and I have shared a million moments together--including a stint as roommates. To this day, we agree that we shared one of the coolest apartments either one of us has ever lived in since. It was right across the street from Forest Park in St. Louis, and within walking distance to everything.
We had a party once where the ONLY music allowed had to be by Van Morrison, Joe Cocker or Aretha Franklin. Don't ask me why, it just was.
We both carried big black purses and BOTH had big hair (hers is still big, mine has shrunk) and both had cans of hairspray on us AT ALL times that could double as protection should the need arise.
I have this huge plastic container in the basement where my lifetime photos are stashed. (I will never be a scrap booker, more of a "scrap piler", so in the box they will remain.) The minute you open the box and begin thumbing through, you'll find as many pics of her and I as you will of Dr. Thyme and me. She goes so far back, she was even around for husband number one. And so on.
As with all lifetime friendships, this one goes as deep as much as it goes long. The one thing she had going for her (well there were many things as I'd come to learn), but the biggest thing was that my mother adored her. And funny enough, my mother adored my two other besties as well. Mother wielded much influence. Sometimes that was a good thing, sometimes not so much. But in the case of making sure I was surrounded by the best people, my mother never minced her words about working hard and holding tight to friends. Loyalty mattered. I think this may have been a result of her having been sent to boarding school. Her friends were her family. In some ways--her interest in my friends, I think, was her way of ensuring I'd not be alone as I moved on in life. She was that way, too--holding tight to those few friends she had and never letting too much time pass before reaching out again. When she died at fifty-four, for months after her passing, I heard from her friends about how my mother was the glue that kept this or that friendship going. Again, loyalty mattered.
You have to understand women to understand women friendships. First of all, we don't have to be all attached at the hip twenty-four seven to have a bond. One year, two years, three--it matters not how often we see each other or speak. What matters is that the minute we see each other again or pick up the phone to talk (talk, not text), it's as if we had never left that point in time when we'd last spoken or met. It's a bit uncanny. But it's exactly like that: we pick up right where we left off.
While we were just hanging out on Sunday, we got hungry. We had several options that would have required a twenty minute car ride to the next "bigger" town over for a possible wider array of eating options for me. However, I wasn't in the mood to be in the car again, so she suggested a place in town that served the "best fried pickles ever" and added: Kelly, You HAVE to try these!
I have food issues aside from just being vegan. I am NOT one to just jump up and go grab a bite. Other people making my food is a hard sell. And I try to stay away from the business of fried food. AND I try to stay away from the business of eating out much period. But hey, this was girl-time and we had talked so much, we needed re-fueling. Plus all of my sesame cookies were gone! (Lori.)
I nearly ate this entire basket MYSELF! Girlfriend was right. She knows me so well. I didn't ask for the play-by-play of nutritional value, nor wring my hands the whole time I was trying to figure out just what in the hell I COULD eat from the menu. The waitress brought these to the table, I ate one. . . and that was all she wrote. Delish. We spent the rest of the day talking, talking, talking, and eating some more.
By the time I got home, I needed to detox from eating said pickles, from all that talking, and all that laughing! It was one of the best visits we've had. In years. Time is flying. More memories must be made.
Meantime, it has snowed here and everyone who has ever read this blog or knows me, my Yankee roots LOVE the snow!
The kids and I went for a walk.
Snow. Snow. Snow.
Vegan Italian Sesame Seed Cookies
*Adapted from Sweet Maria's Italian Cookie Tray by Maria Bruscino Sanchez
Makes about 2 dozen cookies
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons spelt flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 stick Earth Balance Vegan Butter (1/2 cup)
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup coconut milk
1/8 cup canola oil plus 1/8 cup water whisked together (as egg substitute)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
For rolling cookies in after shaped:
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 cup toasted sesame seeds
Preheat oven to 375. Line a cookie tray with parchment paper and set aside. Pour the 1/2 cup of coconut milk in a bowl and next to it, set up your sesame seeds so you have an assembly line for dipping ready next to the cookie trays. In a small mixing bowl, sift together flours and baking powder. In a medium mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Then, add egg substitute (oil and water), milk and vanilla and almond extracts--mixing until batter is smooth. Add dry ingredients to wet in three additions, mix just until the flour begins to form a stiff dough. Remove dough from bowl and knead it a few times on the counter. Taking a tablespoon of dough at a time, shape into 1" balls. Dip the dough into the milk first, then roll in the sesame seeds, then place on cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. Give them a light tap to flatten a bit. Bake for 13-15 minutes until they begin to lightly brown around the edges. Remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes on cookie tray. Then remove and place on a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to a week.