Friday, December 5, 2014

Thanks for the memories

Growing up I remember the refrigerator in the garage – that spare one. It was packed with cold bottles of seltzer and coke – before I established my coffee routine it was a big gulp of coke every morning. Clearly, I was not raised with any sense of food consciousness or restrictions, and it seems like a miracle that I actually ended seeing food from the point of view of how it impacts our body, soul and emotions. It was after I left my parents house and reflected nostalgically on that garage refrigerator, not for its beverage compartment but for what was stored in the freezer I started to understand the emotional component to eating.

My mom baked daily. Her confections were not necessarily destined to served at the end of the evening meal really if I think about, she rarely presented dessert. No, most of this was headed to another one of her culinary warehouses – the freezer. If you walked in our garage you would not be wrong if you mistook it for a convenience store. With its well stocked, reach-in refrig and the shelving unit along the wall packed with nonperishables from dry milk and instant potatoes to bottles salad dressings and ketchup. She had two freezers: the larger upright unit that stored a season’s worth of precut, pre-packaged meats and drop-and-boil vegetables, and the other smaller one, which I would make a beeline for. In there cakes bundled in cling wrap sat frosted and stacked, and old sneaker boxers secured with rubber bands hid little treasures. Within those waxed paper lined boxes were cookies – chocolate chip, butter crescents, rugelach and walnut where always to be found. Though they were off limits being saved for a special occasion or company. I became very fond of eating frozen cookies for I would never dare risk being found out by bringing in them into the house to thaw.   


I will confess I have taken up the mantel, perhaps not to the extreme of my mother, but there usually is a store of frozen bake goods in one of my four freezers. Though my excuse is that it is good prep work for when there are quiet days, particularly when a client springs upon you their last minute decision to attend a cookie swap. Unfortunately, I have not gotten over my urge to sneak hard, frozen cookies and every time I chisel through one, I am back in my childhood garage sitting on the hood of my mom’s Delta 88 unknowingly consuming love.


Chocolate Cardamom Cookies– yields 30 pieces
4-ounces unsalted butter
1-cup sugar
2-whole eggs
1-teaspoons vanilla extract
2-cups all-purpose flour
1½-teaspoon baking powder
⅛-teaspoon salt
½-cup cocoa powder
2-teaspoons ground cardamom
¾-cup chopped pecans
¼-cup powdered sugar

In a mixer with the paddle attachment beat the butter and sugar to very light and fluffy. Then add in the eggs, one and at time, fully incorporating before adding the second one. Mix in the vanilla and orange blossom water.


Sift the flour, baking powder, salt, cocoa,and cardamom cinnamon. On a low speed mix the flour mixture into the butter mixture. Then stir in the pecans to thoroughly distribute.

Place the dough in the refrigerator and chill for an hour or two.

Pre-heat to 350-degrees.

Coat your hands with some powdered sugar, and form the dough into balls about the size of a walnut. Place on a parchment line-baking tray, and bake for 10 to 15 minutes. 

Cool completely. Then roll in confectioner’s sugar to lightly coat.

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