Maple Ginger Tea Lattes + Buckwheat Ginger Cookies (+ AeroLatte Giveaway!)

[UPDATE: Giveaway is now closed. Congrats to ZDubb, winner of the Aerolatte frother!)
maple ginger tea lattes and buckwheat ginger cookies | foodloveswriting.com

“A happy marriage is a long conversation which always seems too short.” Andre Maurois

You may assume a couple that works from home together shares a great deal of time—and, in fact, they do. In our daily routine, Tim and I prepare joint breakfasts, raise questions to one another from across the room, share work snacks of chopped apples, almond butter on celery, warmed-up leftovers from the night before. Most afternoons, when one of us receives a question about schedules or planning, there’s little of that lag time between initial query and checking with the spouse because answers come quick when the spouse is but an arm’s length away. And I’ll tell you, quite candidly, that once you’ve tasted this kind of immediacy, it’s a hard thing to let go of, so we’re prone to say how much we hope we never will.

Still, though, time is not time.

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Lemon Almond Coconut Macaroons

lemon almond coconut macaroons | foodloveswriting.com

Edit: I wrote this post before the Newtown tragedy Friday afternoon, but, reading back over it now, I’m struck by how much I need the reminder all over again—to look for the good in people helping, praying, loving; to recognize the darkness that brings murder and heartbreak and how it is so not at all the voice of Light. It feels wrong not to acknowledge the pain that the affected families of children and teachers are facing today. We wish we could do more. Our thoughts and prayers are with you, Newtown.

Some days, I’m overwhelmed by the lack of love in the world: the snubbing, the name-calling, the pushing, the overlooking, the thoughtlessness human beings show to one another.

For as many of you as relate to a genuine curiosity and interest in other people like I mentioned in the last post, there are others who don’t, who never turn their eyes outward, who come to the party and talk but never listen, who sit near you at a table and stare sullenly ahead, who learn your name and job title and put you into a box marked Understood.

I’d like to throw all such offenders into a Them box, one decidedly Not-Me, but then the thought flashes through my mind, while I sit across from strangers at a car dealership this past week, that I should try to talk to them, show some kindness, and I don’t; I share dinner with a friend and know I could encourage him, and, instead, I’m quiet; we run into friends, and, instead of entering into their lives, I’m anxious to get back to work; I go through entire days of regular life with my husband without once stopping to consider and tell him how good I know he is to me.

lemon almond coconut macaroons | foodloveswriting.com

And other days, I’m overwhelmed by the love there is in the world.

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Ashley Rodriguez’s Cherry Chocolate Chip Cookies

Cherry Chocolate Chip Cookies | FoodLovesWriting.com

If you didn’t catch Ashley Rodriguez’s October Not Without Salt post featuring cherry chocolate chip cookies, you really missed out—and I say that not just because of the killer cookie recipe, but also because of the thoughtful writing on perfectionism and art and creative work that surrounded it. A riff on Ashley’s previously posted THE chocolate chip cookie, these cherry chocolate beauties are part toasted almond flour, part wheat (or, in our case, einkorn); made with ground flax and water instead of an egg; and studded with cherries and chopped chocolate throughout.

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First Anniversary + Basil Shortbread Cookies (gluten-free, grain-free)

us | FoodLovesWriting.com

When you first get married, it’s wonderful and it’s strange. Part of you has this sense that becoming a new family only makes sense, like it’s the way things were always supposed to be, like, thank God, this person you love so much is now joined to you the way you’ve longed for him to be. Yet right alongside that joy, simultaneously, even as you know those things, another part of you has to constantly catch herself, realizing, oh, there’s another person who needs to be consulted before I make any big decisions or changes or future plans; all of your struggles become our struggles and his pain, our pain; one or both of you faces illness or discouragement or deep hurt and brings it into us; you, together, hit points where you don’t know what to do; sometimes, even, you fight.

dinner | FoodLovesWriting.com

Because, being straight-up honest with you, there are days when marriage is so over-the-moon easy that you find yourself saying things like you think your heart could burst, even when beforehand you would’ve said those expressions were cheesy and ridiculous. But, there are also days of painful conversations or long fights or moments when you look at each other, in tears, arguing about something that feels so important you’re willing to push each other away. Sometimes those days are the same days.

knoxville | foodloveswriting.com
downtown knoxville | foodloveswriting.com
smokies | foodloveswriting.com

Tim and I talked about these things, about marriage, the last two days in Knoxville, celebrating our first full year of being husband and wife, constantly recalling the one-year-ago memories of a rehearsal dinner and wedding speeches and a table of cookies and a too-good-to-be-true honeymoon. Either one of us would tell you that we still look at each other and think, genuinely, that we can’t believe the other one exists, that we fit each other so well it makes us marvel, kind of like looking at the mountains or a star-studded night sky. We feel so overwhelmingly thankful for each other and yet, still, we’re prone to take each other for granted, in the same way that we’re prone to go days without thinking twice about our health or our families or jobs we’ve been given that put money in the bank account and food in the fridge.

fall | foodloveswriitng.com
leaves | foodloveswriting.com
Basil Shortbread | FoodLovesWriting.com

The honest truth is that thinking about this scares me. Intentionality in relationships—marriage, parents, roommates, siblings, friends—doesn’t happen naturally for long. Just one year into marriage, I already see how much easier it is to be lazy with Tim than it is to put thought into knowing him, and that because of this, sometimes, being lazy is exactly what I pick.

Taking Photos in the Smokies

But while we got away this weekend, just him and me, walking through streets of old Knoxville architecture, driving through golden leaves in the Smoky Mountains, sitting next to each other and asking hard questions and doing the work of relationship, of long talks and clarification and trying to explain thoughts and feelings, I tasted that real joy that comes from learning what it means to love, and I thought, again, how relationships are the hardest but best parts of living.

golden leaves | foodloveswriting.com

I taste it in marriage, I taste it in friendship, I taste it in the inward struggle I feel when someone does me evil and I try to return good. It makes me think of what C.S.Lewis wrote when he said:

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”

I think there’s this constant struggle in human nature, although we each face it in different ways, of whether or not to let people in and to work to know them and be known. “To love at all is to be vulnerable,” Lewis says, and to be vulnerable is to open yourself up to hurt. But the thing is, even though that’s true, to love is always better, always. Because only in letting yourself be vulnerable do you let yourself experience the best parts of life—in marriage, in friendship, with strangers you’re getting to know.

sitting at the park | foodloveswriting.com

And of all the things marriage is teaching me, this is one of the best.

(More Knoxville photos in our Facebook album here.)

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Blueberry Cookie Dough Truffles (Gluten-Free)

(We’re still away visiting family, but we couldn’t wait to share this recipe with you. With any luck, we’ll be making it again in Chicago!)
blueberries

We’re walking through the grocery store, and Tim’s telling me about this idea he has for using up the case of blueberries in our cart (because apparently it’s an annual tradition).

“It’d be like a cookie,” he’s saying, “but you wouldn’t bake it, and there’d be blueberries mixed inside. Then, we’ll dip them in chocolate!”

I hear my mouth say something like OK even as I’m rounding another aisle on the hunt for flour, but honestly, all I’m thinking about is cracking open a pint as soon as we can get in the car. In the checkout line, when our cashier inquires about our blueberry plans, Tim’s ready. “Well, we’ll bake some, we’ll eat some and then we’ll freeze some!” he tells her, as excited as it were a conveyor belt of diamonds and rubies, not berries, that we are sending down the line.

And minutes later, as we’re feasting on fistfuls of blueberries while exiting the parking lot, talking excitedly about scones and pancakes and smoothies, I think to myself, man, there’s just nobody like Tim.

blueberry cookie dough on tray

We’ve only been married eight-and-a-half months, a time span not quite long enough to complete a school year, qualify for employee vacation time or in most cases grow a child, and yet there are so many things I already find myself taking for granted about our life—like the way we read to each other, in bed at night, on car trips to nearby towns or at the table when one or the other of us finds an article that’s interesting in the middle of our workdays; or the random way we’ll enter deep discussions, like when I ask him “Why do you think people are so drawn to laughter?” one afternoon, driving in the car.

In many ways, Tim is just like me: enjoys reading, a homebody, gets frustrated when something is imprecise. In other ways, he’s not: doesn’t fear what people think, for one; is full of faith, for another. I told our friend Jared a few weeks ago that I think marriage is sometimes like a mirror and what I meant was this: there’s something about the very close, very personal day-to-day interaction with another human being that makes you better able to see yourself. Through eight-and-a-half months of living with Tim, sharing our meals and our work and our weekends, I’ve seen things about myself I don’t like, areas were I lack—mostly because they are areas where he doesn’t.

tim making cookie dough truffles

I, it’s becoming clearer and clearer, am what you might call a cynic, a person prone to suspicion and doubt. I like proof and want evidence and probably won’t believe something until I can see, for sure, that it’s true. You could blame this on authority figures I had who lied to me or to the social environment I grew up in that deceived and hid grace, but the larger issue is me—me and my fear and my doubt. A few years ago, in a Bible study I was in, we were reading about the apostle Thomas, the one who had to see Jesus’ hands, and I starting sobbing when I read Christ’s response: no censure, no condemnation, just “Put your finger here. See my hands.” I think about that sometimes when Tim and I talk about the future and wanting to give more, and I have to rehearse in my mind promises, promises that I’ve seen to be true, like evidence, right before my eyes.

And I think about that when he talks animatedly about blueberries, to a stranger at the grocery store, without inhibition or caution or a guard up, and I think about it when he tells me his hopes for the future, hopes I’d throw away as impossible or too big. What a gift to live life with a man like this, what a gift to rub up against him and feel my faith sharpened, see my hope grow. And what a gift to eat blueberry-filled, cookie-dough truffles covered in chocolate, the ones he envisioned and I couldn’t see, the ones that are crazy, almost unbelievably, good.

 

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Almond Thumbprint Cookies (no flour!)

almond thumbprint cookies

Nothing says simplicity like reducing your diet to fruit, vegetables, meat, and dairy for a week—which is exactly what we did recently, when we temporarily cut out grains and sugar from our daily meals (even the good kinds).

In the beginning, I felt hungry, but by the end, I felt fantastic.

And today, whenever I eat something sweet, I start craving a vegetable.

I see that as a very good thing.

mixing ingredients

So last Saturday, it was in the midst of this experiment that we were planning a movie (Super 8!)/dinner (Silly Goose!) date with good friends and wanted to bring something to snack on. If you’re also the type to sneak treats in at the movie theater, I’m sure you’ve been where we were: you want something easy to transport in your bag, easy to share, totally non-sticky, and totally appropriate with the jug of water you’ve also got shoved in your purse. So for us, this usually means cookies.

tasting the batter

The only problem last week was that meant a cookie without flour (or at least with only a little flour—come on, we were allowed to cheat a little), which reminded me of some adorable little thumbprint cookies I’d seen at Nourishing Gourmet and marked on my Pinterest last month.

forming cookies

Reminiscent of kolachkys but made with ground almonds (or almond meal) rather than flour, these little desserts look like baby danishes and smell like bakery doughnuts, featuring dollops of fruit preserves right in the center.

balls of dough with jelly

(Speaking of fruit preserves: If you’re looking for a good jelly, whether for peanut butter sandwiches or baking almond thumbprint cookies or something else, let me give a shout-out to Trader Joe’s, who makes an excellent organic jelly sweetened with fruit juice rather than sugar. We picked raspberry. It is excellent.)

lots of cookies

We made a batch Friday and it was almost gone by the next day, so we made a second batch Saturday, that time subbing whole-grain spelt flour for part of the ground almonds when we ran out.

finished cookies

Both times, these little cookies were just what we were after: small, sweet, and, best of all, so simple: simple ingredients, simple baking process, simple enjoyment—whether in the movie, at coffee or grabbed off the counter in the kitchen.

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Banana Coconut Dark Chocolate Buckwheat Cookies

You know those people who are always telling you how busy they are? It’s kind of annoying because really, we all make the time to do the things we really want to do. Even when we’re crazy crazy busy, we still eat, for example—or at least, I still eat—maybe you sleep or meet your friend for coffee or buy a new lamp for the living room. The point is, I’ve always thought to myself, even when it was my own voice I was hearing say it, that hello? You say you’re too busy, but really you are just admitting that you don’t want to make the time for something.

But then the last few weeks happened.

cookie recipe

And what I’ve been realizing—amidst taking trips to Chicago, having guests in town, looking for new work, planning a wedding, staying in touch with friends, and dealing with everyday emergencies like an ant problem or a shower curtain that continually wants to fall down—is that sometimes, being too busy is less about all the actual things you’re doing and more about what those things do to your mind. It can be hard to just sit and think and process things, even when you want to. You start to feel lost in it all and you start to forget really obvious things that you should remember.

cookie dough

Last weekend, for example, I had my leftovers packaged up at lunch—and then forgot them at the table.

I took some out-of-town guests on a tour of Franklin—and got lost twice.

While things on the to-do list are getting accomplished (caterer picked! engagement photos done! jazz band found!), I feel kind of at a loss as to how to do anything more than just tell you about them. I worry that I’m becoming the girl who not only tells you how busy she is but then when you do get her talking, has a one-track mind of WEDDING.

Yikes.

sucanat syrup

Thankfully, yesterday and today, I’ve been given a little bit of everyday time—time to return to work, time to write a blog, time to think about all of these things. And also thankfully, I am continually around a man who is much less ruffled by the activity and to-do lists than I am.

So last night, we made cookies.

cookies coming out of oven

We’ve made these cookies before, a few months ago, pretty soon after I’d moved to Nashville. They’re an adaptation of a sugar-free recipe in Dr. Josh Axe’s Real Food cookbook, which uses just bananas and maple syrup as the sweeteners. The first time, they were like banana macaroons—oddly shaped the way coconut macaroons tend to be, but with the hint of banana flavor providing the sweetness.

Last night, when we used buckwheat flour instead of spelt and a simple syrup (half Sucanat, half water, heated over the stove) instead of maple, we ended up with an even more different version: gray in color (thank you, buckwheat) and less sweet.

cookies

Regardless though, these funny little mounds of baked goodness were fun to eat—and hard to stop eating—making them perfect for whatever schedule you find yourself in, be it busy weeks, everyday weeks, or something in between.

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