Sunday, December 30, 2007

Last hurrahs

Not to appear cold hearted, but goodbyes usually don't faze me. Okay, that's beyond cold hearted - at the risk of sounding inhuman, let me clarify: goodbyes usually don't bring me to tears. If it is an indefinite farewell, I'm usually the one standing there wishing just one tear would roll down my cheek to show some outward emotion!

What I am getting at is that seeing 2007 pass away isn't giving me too much pause. It's been one crazy year, and though some of that craziness will seep into 2008 - and it will have its own set of troubles - I am excited for a reason for personal reflection...what would we humans do without occasions for fresh starts?! I know I wouldn't be who I am today.

I was talking to my mom yesterday about how I want to get my running mileage back up, which led into the whole discussion argument (that always ensues) about women's bodies and how extreme exercise can be harsh on our bodies (i.e. infertility issues). My nineteen year old sister immediately volunteered, "Well, I'm going to do everything to save my fertility by not exercising."

So while Elise continues to sit on the couch this coming year (I'm joking, really. She's a talented dancer and fun-loving, beautiful girl.)...I'm kissing some of my mornings in bed goodbye (I prefer to be up and active by 7 or 8 a.m. anyway). And, fortunately, no one is looking back at me with teary eyes, wondering why I'm not crying too!

Another "last hurrah" I've been enjoying the past week is baking. There's no way I'm completely giving up such things as scone-making, but in my desire to expand my cooking repertoire, I'm going to be spending more time with the stovetop than the oven.

So, when we were invited to a small party on Christmas Eve, I jumped at a guilt-free chance to make one of my new favorite cookies.

My friend Katie introduced these to me this fall, and after listening to her rave on and on, I knew I would like them before I even tasted them. I was wrong. I love them! Made from a simple shortbread dough, they are thin, dainty cookies with little chewy bits of fennel inside and delicate pinenuts on top.

Pine Nut Cookies (Perhaps more accurately called "Fennel Cookies")
Everyday Italian by Giada De Laurentiis

Makes 3 dozen cookies.

1/2 c. unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 c. + 2 T. granulated sugar
1 t. vanilla extract
1 t. ground fennel seed*
1/4 t. salt
1 large egg
1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 c. pine nuts

*Each time I've made these I have just chopped or partially ground up seeds, which give a subtle texture and chew.

1. In a large bowl, beat butter, sugar, vanilla, ground fennel, and
salt with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg. Add
flour and mix just until blended.

2. Transfer dough to a sheet of plastic wrap and shape into
8-inch-long log. Wrap dough in plastic and refrigerate for 2 hours.

3. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two heavy large baking sheets with
parchment paper.

4. Cut dough log crosswise into 1/8-1/4 inch thick slices. Transfer
the cookies to the prepared baking sheets, spacing evenly apart. Press
pine nuts decoratively atop the cookies, and bake until cookies are
golden around the edges, about 15 minutes.

[The cookies can be made 1 day ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.]


Rachael said...

Okay, now you are going to make me cry...just thinking about having to say goodbye to you in 12 days. How delightful it has been to have you home! Intensely missing you is inescapable; but we'll make room for a few more 'last hurrahs' before we have to part again.
The fennel cookies were a pleasant taste in the world of predictable sweet flavors. We'll have them again no doubt.
Thanks, sweet one!

Deborah Dowd said...

These sound really yummy- a sophisticated twist on the shortbread cookie! The best of health and happiness to you in the new year!

Lael said...

mom: dinner at anthony's was a perfect last hurrah...there aren't any marinas to dine next to in Abilene :(

deborah: thank you - the same wishes to you in 2008!