30 April, 2012

short and sweet, and tiny

I have wanted to make green tea cookies for quite a while, but I never could find the original recipe that sparked my interest. Finally I decided to come up with something of my own. I don't mean to brag, but the results are really good - not overly sweet, soft and crumbly, buttery, with a great matcha flavor. If you like green tea lattes, or Starbucks' green tea frappuccino, this should be right up your alley. The recipe makes a lot of cookies, so I froze half of the dough when I made them a few months ago. Last night, when I couldn't take any more studying, I decided to make the second batch (I had put it in the refrigerator to thaw a few days before, predicting just such a situation). I enjoyed them so much that I decided I should share the recipe here.

I started with this basic shortbread cookie recipe and made changes according to what I was in the mood for - green tea - and what I had on hand - no cookie cutters, not enough butter, but plenty of walnut oil.

Green Tea Cookie Recipe:
4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
2 Tablespoons chef's matcha (powdered green tea)
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 cup walnut oil
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 F. Sift the flour, baking powder, salt, and matcha into a medium bowl and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl beat the butter until light and fluffy, add in powdered sugar and walnut oil, mixing until well combined. Beat in the vanilla extract. Add half of the flour mixture, mix, then add the other half until everything comes together.

Divide dough into two balls if you would like to save half of it later.

Using your hands, make small balls of dough, about the diameter of a quarter. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the edges begin to turn golden. Makes 3-4 dozen.

22 April, 2012

simple standard lunch

Being parted from your beloved can certainly inspire poetry. Ian is studying abroad and, oh man, you should see the e-mails we write one another. Except for the fact that I will not be sharing them with the world via internet. I've been trying to focus on some of the other, less romantic, positives of him being away: when I need a break from studying I clean instead of just chatting, there are way fewer dirty dishes, I can let the cat sleep on his pillow. It's not much, but it's a reminder to focus on the simple joys in life. It's hard to do that when life is zooming all around you. Sometimes you just have to step back and simplify things in order to see all the beauty.

For me, simplifying what I eat can definitely help. I like to do this by preparing a week's worth of lunches all at once. It's nothing special but it's tasty and filling and healthy, so it gets me through the afternoon quite nicely. In fact, I often get comments when I eat this at school. Somebody says, "That looks good, what is it?" and I'm surprised because it's really just beans and rice. In fact, that just happened to me right now as I am writing this. So, if you've ever wondered, here it is:
  • Cook 2 cups of brown rice, according to package instructions
  • Cook 1lb. of dried beans - I use a pressure cooker and it takes <30 minutes. If you don't have one, try soaking the beans overnight first. Then drain, re-cover with water, bring to a boil, simmer for several hours, until tender. Alternatively, you can use canned beans, just opt for salt-free and drain them before using. [We could talk about the hazards of BPA-lined cans here, but I think that if that gets you to eat a nutritious meal then it might be worth the risk.]
  • Steam or lightly sautee green vegetable of your choice - broccoli, green beans, a bunch of kale or chard. Sometimes I even cheat and use frozen vegetables.
Get out a few portable containers (glass, please, if you will be microwaving). Add a large spoonful of each of the above. I usually aim for close to 1 cup of each. You might feel satisfied after eating less than this, but it's pretty low calorie and I usually find myself wanting to eat the rest in a few hours. Drizzle on some olive oil, freshly ground black pepper, and turmeric. I'm pretty liberal with the turmeric - everything should be yellow.

20 April, 2012

happy earth day

spring is like a perhaps hand
by e.e. cummings


Spring is like a perhaps hand 
(which comes carefully 
out of Nowhere)arranging 
a window,into which people look(while 
people stare
arranging and changing placing 
carefully there a strange 
thing and a known thing here)and

changing everything carefully

spring is like a perhaps 
Hand in a window 
(carefully to 
and fro moving New and 
Old things,while 
people stare carefully 
moving a perhaps 
fraction of flower here placing 
an inch of air there)and

without breaking anything.
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