As with all things food with me, I was minding my business. Then the New York Times posted the most amazing picture of their peach focaccia. And I fell in love and I just had to have it. Not only did I have to have it, but I also had to make all things peach. So I spent my days in the kitchen cooking and my nights on the ‘net researching. Before I knew, Peach Week was born! Yes, it is Peach Week!!Continue Reading “Peach Week: Peach Focaccia”
There are few things that give me a pause like baking. I am not a natural baker. I haven’t baked long enough to feel like I can trust my intuition. Yet, nothing draws me like baking. I feel like my lack of skills is a challenge. The only way to get better is to try and try. Study my failures and enjoy my successes. Baking this walnut ginger shortbread was definitely a success.
A lot of what I do in terms of food is re-imagining things that I have seen. I try to change the details so that the core is the same but the experience of food shifts. This particular shortbread recipe is based upon the master shortbread recipe on the New York Times Cooking site. I find that recipe to be a good place to start when making shortbread because I have used it many times.
However, when I started thinking of this walnut ginger shortbread, I knew I had to look beyond just dumping in the ingredients. I wanted them to blend into the shortbread recipe and let it become
Despite the nut in the walnut ginger shortbread, I want to still have a smooth experience in the mouth. This meant finding a way to turn the walnut into a sort of flour instead of lumps studded into the dough. The crystallized ginger is a homage to Walker’s version of the Ginger Shortbread. The ginger is also chopped finely so that the dough remains smooth.
One finally note I will make about the process of figuring out this cookie is the baking temperature. I played around with the baking temperature until I arrived at a temperature and timing that gave just the right amount of browning. I hope you try out the recipe for the walnut ginger shortbread. It is really easy but produces a cookie that is marvelous with tea.
Walnut and Ginger Shortbread
- 1 Stick Butter room temperature
- 1/2 Cup Walnut Flour
- 1/2 Cup Crystallized Ginger chopped into tiny bits
- 11/4 Cup All purpose flour
- 1/4 Cup Corn Flour
- 1 egg yolk room temperature
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup Powdered Sugar
- In a bowl, combine the sugar, ginger, walnut flour, all-purpose flour and corn flour with salt.
- Cream the butter and the egg yolk together until fluffy.
- Add in the flour mixture, about 2 tbsp at a time, and mix gently. Don’t mix too much so that the cookie remains flakey.
- When flour and butter mixture is incorporated, pour the dough on parchment paper and gently roll into a log.
- It is time to chill the cookie dough. I prefer to have the dough in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours but four hours is the recommended minimum. The dough would last in the freezer for a couple of months. If you freeze, bring out cookie dough into a refrigerator at least a couple of hours before baking.
- When it is time to bake, preheat oven to 300F.
- To bake the walnut ginger shortbread, cut the log into 1/4 inch thick coins. Place on a baking tray, preferably lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
- Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes. The shortbread can be baked longer if you prefer a bit more color on the cookies.
There are few things in life that I find more comforting than bread. Especially the Agege bread that the hawkers used to carry around on top of their head in Lagos. That soft doughy white bread that was just the perfect vessel for all kinds of food. If you have never had Agege bread stuffed with
There are few things I miss about home like I miss bread. The way bread just seemed to be on every corner and you could always figure out a meal pronto. It might seem crazy that I miss bread in a country where the grocery stores have a million and one options for bread. There is every shape, every size and every ingredient bread in every store.
But in a land of plenty, when that one special one is missing, you begin to question if you even belong. Lately, I have been experimenting with making bread. I am not a good bread-maker. It is important that I admit my flaws up front. It is either I am too impatient or not attentive enough when making bread. There are bread makers whose artistry and language floor me. I am just trying to make something that could fill some of that void from not having my home bread with me.
For the past couple of years, the no-knead bread has been my companion. Originally presented to the world by Mark Bittman during his time at the New York Times, this recipe has travelled around the world of food blogs. It is a pantry staple that is versatile enough. The recipe is as unfinicky as a bread recipe can be. And the result makes me feel like I have created something special when really all I have done is let flour, water and yeast rest for a long period of time. If there is one recipe I can recommend as a good place to play, it is the no-knead recipe.
I look forward to sharing my different variations of this recipe on this blog.
I am a big proponent of self-care. For me,self-care is an affirmation that my needs are valid. However, self-care is now big business in the consumerist culture that as American as apple pie. The big business of self-care is one that I find both intriguing and appalling. The problem with self-care business is that everyone is not allowed to care for themselves.
This whole thought about self-care as a business came about because the New York Times Magazine published a profile called ” The Big Business of Being Gwyneth Paltrow.” As the title implies, the article explores the ascendant of Ms. Paltrow as a purveyor of self-care via her Goop brand. Reading this article made me think about my college days when she first started pushing her newsletter out to the masses. There is a recipe I got from her that is still one of my favorite recipes. It is a plain apple and broccoli soup that is finished with lots of lemon juice. It is very similar to this recipe I found on the Goop blog for broccoli and arugula soup.
Anyway, let get back to the point of I was trying to make. Following the writer’s story about the trajectory of Ms. Paltrow’s brand as well as the rise of the self-care industry was interesting to me. One of the things that I love about the growth of self-care as an acceptable form of self-love is that it has empowered women to demand time for themselves. Time to read. Time to sleep. Time to do yoga. However, the rise of self-care as an industry as also meant that many underprivileged people are left feeling like they are failing at life.
One of the things that Ms. Paltrow talks about in the profile is how crucial it is for her to create an aspirational brand. A brand that is based on utilizing her privileged access to wealth that allows her to be able to create the kind of self-care she wants. While I do not begrudge her her privilege, I find it a bit naive not to have a conversation about how many women are not allowed to care for themselves properly. Forget about money because money is a huge barrier that I can’t possibly talk about all the ways it harms the underprivileged. Even when we do have the funds to create opportunities for ourselves, many women, especially black women are not allowed to care for themselves.
As a black plus size woman, one of my problems with self-care is the feeling of being unheard and unwelcome when I want to care for myself. One of the radical acts of self-care that I have done in the past few months is seeking help with my body. I went to the doctor, and I felt unheard and misunderstood. It was like everything I said boiled down to one thing; weight loss. I feel tired begat a lose the weight response. I am gaining weight at an unprecedented rate begat a eat less comment. Knowing I have a past eating disorder begat a sign up for weight loss clinic from my doctor. Through all of the emotional trauma of feeling as if my doctor intentionally did not want to acknowledge my mental health as a legitimate part of my well-being, I kept caring for myself by demanding a proper diagnosis and appropriate help.
Then I sign up for the gym, and I feel like my plus size body is being judged. One of the most uncomfortable parts of going to the gym for is the judgment. I can’t complain about the quality of service. Since I am fat, I can’t possibly understand how gyms work. I remember one time I went to use a treadmill at the gym and realized that the speed off. I couldn’t complain because it would have turned into “you are out of shape” instead of looking at the machine. This was despite the fact that, at that point, I had consistently been running for years so I knew what my body could or could not do. So fatphobia is another way that I am being denied full access to self-care.
As a black woman, I am treated with suspicion when I go into self-care service providers like nail salon. One manicurist refused to paint my nails until I had paid her. No one else had to pre-pay before getting nail color applied. One of my favorite things to do is to grocery shop. I love looking at new foods on the shelves and thinking about ways to use them. Even that has gotten ruined because I noticed that I was being followed at grocery stores. Apparently, I am not the right demographics for this particular store chain. Interestingly, I walk into stores, and I am not acknowledged because again not the right demographic. So even when I choose to self-care, the trauma that is inflicted on me in the process compounds the burden I am trying to offload.
I have tried to negate some of the problems with self-care. I now choose to self-care in ways that are centered around my safe space. I still like to explore new foods by reading food blogs and shopping online. My choice to learn how to sew and make my clothes has turned making into a form of meditation for me. I have also started exploring ways that I can bring yoga into my house. I am a big fan of Yoga With Adriene. This means I am constantly looking for ways to create a yoga space in my apartment for private practice.
While I sometimes wish that I could go into cool spaces and be at ease enough to enjoy the experience, I can’t take chances. Instead of giving up on caring for myself, I am centering my self-care practice in my safe space. I am also excited that more women of colors and plus-size women are creating experiences for my demographic because of the trauma that comes from the general population.