Cookies and Cooking Blogs

When I was growing up, I had a Mom who worked part-time as a nurse. Part-time meant she often worked late shifts or weekends. What that meant for me as a self-focused and hungry child, as children are wont to be, is that Mom was often there when I walked home from school, and I was often lucky enough to smell from the backyard the wafting smell of fresh-baked cookies emanating from the kitchen. After our collie greeted me as though I was the prodigal daughter (though I had only left home that morning) I would sneak a few warm cookies off the cooling rack and avoid my homework. I could let it all hang out as I complained about the indignities of  school and always found a comforting presence near Mom at the old yellow formica kitchen table as she rustled about making dinner. The cookies were simple, delicious, and wholesome. Mom often slipped in healthy stuff like nuts, coconut, and wheat germ. They were delicious, and cookies are still one of my favorite treats. Handheld, individually portioned, creative and quick for the cook, cookies are still “It.” I was touched when I read the foreword to Thomas Keller’s “Bouchon” bakery book, which at its beginning, weaves a beautiful story of his hardworking single mother and the role of cookies in their family and pantry. He shared a recipe for homemade pecan sandies which were luscious. Keller’s story, full of respect and admiration for his Mom, brings to mind the old saw about how a man treats his mother is how he will treat you. So ladies, look for a man who is kind, thoughtful, and considerate to his mother. If not, RUN in the opposite direction!

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On another note, the cooking blog has proven far more challenging than I anticipated. When I cook, I am in action- it is all focus, physicality, timing, and attention. Writing is more introspective and dream-like, creating an altered consciousness. So far, merging my cooking, photography and writing styles has not felt natural or easy. I have work to do, and it’s not as easy as it looks!
So, as the summer winds down, and I am left remembering grilled chicken, zucchini, onion, and tomato frittata, summer soups, Midwestern potato salad, and clam chowder consumed at the beach with briny air being the best accompaniment, none of which I have a photographic record of, but fond and happy memories thereof. I wish us all a subtle transition into autumnal abundance, when the sun sets earlier, the nights grow chillier, and our kitchens turn again into hearths, the center of our homes, and gatherer of family and friends.

Pecan Sandies

Hands-on time 20 min. Total 45 min.

Makes 1 1/2 dozen

2 cups all-purpose flour (250 grams)

¾ cup coarsely chopped pecans (80 grams)

¾ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature (170 grams)

¾ cup plus 2 tsp. powdered sugar (90 grams)

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Toss together flour and pecans in a medium bowl.

2. Beat butter at medium-low speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer until smooth. Add powdered sugar, and beat 2 minutes or until fluffy, stopping to scrape bowl as needed. Add the flour mixture, and beat at low speed 30 seconds or just until combined.

3. Shape dough into 2-inch balls; place 1 ½ inches apart on 2 parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Flatten each ball into a disk.

4. Bake at 350° for 22 to 25 minutes or until light golden, placing 1 baking sheet on oven rack one-third down from top and 1 baking sheet on oven rack one-third up from bottom.

5. Cool on baking sheets on wire racks 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire racks and cool completely (about 15 minutes). Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Store in an airtight container up to 3 days.

Recipe adapted from the Bouchon Bakery cookbook.

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