that kind of something

vanilla spice cookies

As you know, I’m not exactly the type of person to miss winter. But can I tell you something? When these vanilla spice cookies bake, even in the middle of May, filling the kitchen with a fragrance sweet and filled with nostalgia, I’d swear I was walking around a Christmas market where they sell fresh-roasted cinnamon pecans wrapped in paper cones, the kind you take in your gloved hands, the air visible in front of you as you breathe in and out, your face flushed pink.

It’s like that time last winter when my friend Becky and I drove out to Geneva, on, I swear, what must have been the coldest night ever, on the hunt for homemade candy canes and cups of hot chocolate. After we walked up and down a street of bundled carolers and holiday decorations, our skin cracking and our noses running, what we found instead were frozen toes and fingers, even after returning to the car; a few photos of us, in the dark, standing near twinkling lights; and my first taste of a chestnut, which, in all honestly, smells a hundred times better than it tastes: hot and bland. I don’t often feel nostalgic for nights like those, so it would take something pretty special to make me remember all the good parts: the smell of fresh popcorn from the white tent in front of one of the shops, the gleaming red and gold globes hanging from a tree, the group of musicians who played, hands exposed, as if they couldn’t even feel the freeze.

Let me tell you: these cookies are that something.

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after all

cookie brownies

Well, if you haven’t heard, this site has been around for six months now, and, to celebrate, I’m holding a giveaway! Even if you don’t want to enter to win a prize, you really should head over just to see the comments being left. One or two gave me a lump in my throat, which, admittedly, isn’t too hard to do lately—Am I the only one who can never, ever watch P.S. I Love You again? Even Flash of Genius—I had to skip to the end to see the happy ending before I lost it, just 20 minutes into the video. This does not bode well for my future, in which I am supposed to grow more emotional, aren’t I? But back to the comments: all of them have felt like they were written by old friends, and have convinced me, more completely than before, that the people who read this site are some of the nicest you’ll find, anywhere.

Speaking of which, those of you who love chocolate were awfully patient last week when I posted, the day before the biggest chocolate holiday of the year, a recipe for iced lemon cookies.

So today, I’m making it up to you.

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something new to love

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Saturday night, I saw the San Antonio Spurs beat the Chicago Bulls, at the first professional basketball game I’ve ever attended in my life. We were in the front row, and when the Spurs players came out to warm up, they stopped to greet fans right in front of us, turning to crowds of pen-holding kids waving their arms and papers, competing for a chance to get an autograph.

Early into the night, I told my friend the red-headed guy looks like Charlie Crews from Life, and then in the game, I saw him score a lot of points. But I think it was when some fellow Chicagoan started booing him that I knew I liked Bonner (for the record, I think you sound like you’re two years old when you boo someone for playing well). Sean Elliot, such a classy guy, took a picture with my friend, who is the biggest fan of the Spurs I know, maybe the biggest fan there is. Ime Udoka chatted with some kids who made a sign for him. And Tony Parker, after speaking French to some girls who said Ça va? to him, smiled right at me, inches away.

I’m not usually one to like things immediately, but, after a night like that, you wouldn’t blame me for becoming something of a Spurs fan myself, would you?

I think the one thing I’ve discovered about basketball fans is the same thing I know about any other kind of fans, even cooking ones. Finding something you really like—that you connect with—happens rarely enough that we like to latch onto it when it does. For people who love a sports team, maybe they love the city it comes from, maybe they love the individuals who play on it, maybe they want the camaraderie of spending a Saturday night with a bunch of people, cheering for the same cause. (I’m still pretty new to this crowd, so I’m just guessing here.)

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