My Favorite Fall Cookies

I never travel without snacks, whether it’s a long road trip or a quick flight, and last week’s trip to Seattle was no exception. On the way home, I brought one of these in my bag, in addition to eating half a chicken in the airport from the Wolfgang Puck cafe; on the way there, I packed a bag of sliced green peppers, a bunch of carrot matchsticks and a large plastic bag filled with some of my favorite cookies.

These are those cookies, and I have to tell you they’re something special. Have you ever had those butter almond thins from Trader Joe’s? When I used to buy them, I could eat the whole box. In one sitting. Literally. These cookies are just like those. Or, speaking of food on airplanes, do you remember back in the day when flights would include nuts and a snack? There were these ginger-like cookies I always found so comforting. And these cookies are even better than that.

almond cookies on baking sheet

The recipe originates with Martha Stewart, and beyond my typical ingredient deviations—spelt flour, Sucanat, coconut oil—the primary adaptations I made relate to method: where she says to chill the dough in loaf pans (making it tall and easy to cut), I’ve tried a 9 X 13 pan (making long, skinny cookie strips), long logs (where you just slice and bake), large circles of dough (to then roll out and cut shapes from) and random scraps of dough formed into balls. The beauty is that all of these methods work.

favorite fall cookies

You can take this versatile cookie dough and do whatever you’d like with it: you’ll still wind up with the same buttery, nutty crisps I can’t get enough of.

spiced cookies

They’re good with tea or coffee. They’re good by themselves. And, for the record, not that this happened to anyone here, but if you’re ever stuck in Seattle Tacoma Airport for three hours while you wait for someone else’s flight to arrive, and you want something to mindlessly eat and eat until it’s totally and completely gone, well, they’re good for that, too.

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for the second time

asparagus salad

The first time I made an asparagus salad, it was with walnuts and dates and pecorino cheese. My friend Jackie was over, and we were trying a new recipe.

And because Jackie’s always been a good sport about trying new things, including but not limited to kale chips, roasted broccoli, blackened salmon (which sadly, I have yet to post here because although it was perfection! I didn’t get any good pictures), sole amandine, cookies, cakes, even hummus scooped straight out of the container, slathered on wheat crackers from Trader Joe’s, it might not seem so significant to tell you she loved that salad. But we both did. Looking back, I have no idea what else we ate that day, but the asparagus salad? That I remember perfectly, especially how much I looked forward to eating it for the few days it lasted after.

fresh asparagus

Even remembering it now makes me want to run out for some dates and pecornio, so that’s why the next thing I have to say is so strange: despite how much we both loved that salad and despite its starring role in the meal we ate that day, the next time I made an asparagus salad wasn’t until almost a year later—last week, in fact, when I brought home that bunch of fresh asparagus from the farmers’ market.

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the reasons why (fish cooked in brown butter)

sole amandine

I tend to keep mental lists of reasons I like things. Is that weird?

It’s true of avocados—loaded with good fat, make creamy smoothies, taste absolutely perfect smashed and salted on toast, were just $3-and-something for four at Trader Joe’s yesterday. It’s also true of places—Boston has those historic streets, the North End filled with great food, a beautiful autumn; Colorado doesn’t only offer 300 days of sunshine but is also surrounded by those incredible, breathtaking, larger-than-life mountains.

And of course it’s true of people, like my mom, whom we’re celebrating today. My mom’s list is filled with things like: makes me laugh, is a killer cook, knows just how you should and shouldn’t plant tomatoes each year. She can quote random phrases in Hebrew, knows facts about old theologians, listens to her favorite preachers while she gets ready every morning.

Though I struggle to be 100% honest and blunt with most people, Mom is one person with whom it’s easier. I’m probably sometimes TOO honest with her, in fact. Over her 27 years of motherhood, in which she has born the brunt of my harshest words and most untactful responses, I have been much more free because I know, probably as one of the most sure things I do know, that she loves me. She prayed for me for two years before she had me. She has prayed for me in all the years since she did.

And, as it was with antiquing and gardening and cooking and planning things far, far in advance, she has paved the way for me towards new interests, including something as simple as eating one of her and my dad’s favorite foods: fish.

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just what you need

chocolate truffles

OK. Next time I say I want to make bread pudding, taken from some random Web site I’ve never heard of before, just so I can use up my loaf of bread that hardened two days after I bought it?

Stop me.

If you do, I might be able to write a better post than this one, in which I will just tell you that, Yes, I did in fact spend a disproportionate amount of time tonight caramelizing sugar and softening bread cubes to layer with a creamy custard in a tube pan that would then, tragically, leak all over and around the oven liner, meaning not only that the bread pudding was a disaster but so was the kitchen and myself.

And, Yes, also, after I did all this, I would still head up to my computer, flicking on its glowing screen and gentle humming sound, just because, even at almost 11 PM, I’d know I’d planned to sit down and write something interesting about the dark chocolate truffles I made for Carrie’s and Alicia’s birthday presents, and, by gosh, that stupid bread pudding wasn’t going to stop me.

Tell me you’ve had nights like this?

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