Thursday, August 20, 2009

Walnut-almond cookies & a fear of the cookie monster

I don't know why my daughter has become afraid of Sesame Street's inarticulate blue fuzzy cookie monster. C is for Cookie was a seminal song for us--it taught her the alphabet. We went through all the letters, like "I is for Ima, that's good enough for me" with the names of our friends.

Suddenly, she asks me to skip the cookie monster song on her Sesame Street CD. Unexpectedly during the day she races into my arms, whispering that the "cookie monstern" is hiding in her bed.

It's not even all monsterns, just the cookie monstern. For example, she can't get enough of Oscar the Grouch, and it's a hoot to hear her sweet husky toddler voice sing I Love Trash. Her favorite song these days.

So I'm making her cookies. She may be freaked out by the cookie"monstern," but she still likes cookies. But healthy ones. They're actually not really "cookies"--they're nuts stuck together with egg and a tiny bit of sugar. From Claudia Roden's Book of Jewish Food:

1 cup walnuts
1 cup almonds
2/3 cup sugar
1 egg plus 1 yolk

grind the nuts finely. Mix in sugar and egg, cover with plastic wrap and let rest in the fridge for 2 hours.

roll into the size of small walnuts, coat in confectioners sugar. You're supposed to place them in tiny paper thingies, but I don't have any, so I put them on parchment paper and bake for 14 minutes or so at 375. The cookies are ready when they crack on top and are golden brown (though I can't see the color through the sugar, so I just wait till they crack a little). They'll look soft, but they're ready. Leave them in the oven, open the oven door, and let them cool in the cooling oven.

These are supposed to be for Pesakh. But you know, since I've been eating whatever I find in the fridge, freezer, cabinet and garden, and only shopping on days I haven't spent anything else (still sticking to only-spend-money-once-a-day thing), I was happy to make these outside of Pesakh.

Also, walnuts are good for you. They make you smarter, especially in the aging process, which seems to be accelerated when you get a kid.

Basically, I consider Claudia Roden a goddess. All it takes is a tiny peek at The Book of Jewish Food and I am immediately inspired (and freakishly gifted at the moment). In this way, Claudia Roden is lot like Ima-Shalom. I am a total klutz with babywearing. Give me a wrap, and I can make it look like macrame with baby limbs woven awkwardly in and out in strange places. But put Ima Shalom in the room, and I suddenly have opposable thumbs. Luckily (though too late for me) Ima Shalom is now a babywearing consultant and is open for business. Meanwhile, Clauda Roden keeps cranking out cookbooks.

Most of all, I love Roden's stories. They're not overly-sentimental; they're informative, sweet, and smart. So it's a pleasure to read.

And I have a little extra time to read this week. When I ask my daughter why she's been staying awake for hours at night and waking up early early, she says her "eyes just keep opening like that." Which means there are a few more hours in our day these days. We ad-lib stories to go with the photos that illustrate the recipes, so we can both enjoy the book.

In two weeks she starts preschool (yikes), and next week I start teaching. So we'll see how we do.


Maya said...

I should add that I gave a dear friend Roden's "Arabesque: a taste of Morocco, Turkey and Lebanon," and it was also fantastic. (The friend has invited me to several meals she made from this book). Though you do have to alter some of the meals to make them kosher (specifically, there are meat-and-milk issues).

Queen of Laundry said...

What's wrong with pre-school? She's gonna have new friends and new experiences, and you're gonna get back those extra hours of the day (or the night :)

Anyway, happy new beginnings to both of you [We're starting school (1st grade!) in about two weeks. Ahhhhhhh!]

Thanks for sharing the recipe.