Wednesday, December 15, 2004

sliding out of reverse into drive

My grandfather is pretty amazing. At 85, he's still taking 2 mile walks in the morning and evening. He kept up with this, even recently, after eye surgery. He keeps a fastidious journal. The last time he was taken to a physician, he brought along the journal, which kept record of his blood pressure on a daily basis. In his journal is also a record of who he sees and where he has gone in a day, to keep his mind sharp. When I'm his age, if I am half as disciplined as he is, I wound consider myself doing well. I'm not saying he's a man without flaws. The last time we talked, he told me that there was no point in me working or studying if I wasn't married as well. So, he has a mild streak of chauvinism, and his hearing isn't what it once was. But he's still a lion, after all these years, and there are so many things about him that I carry with me.

My grandfather has never, ever consented to eating meat, and that includes eggs. And though he is not materialistic, he is always tickled when he is given gifts of any kind by his grandchildren. Last year, I sent my uncle Christmas cookies, and my grandfather called me the next day, inquiring whether I had thought to include any that had no eggs for him. As it turns out, I had, but they were fairly tasteless and I was dissatisfied with them. So, this year, I set about to concoct cookies for my grandfather that met the following specifications: a) no eggs or egg-substitutes (he doesn't trust those) and b) something with more of an Indian flavor to it. I tested out my hypothesized recipe today and the experiment was successful, so my grandfather will have something worthwhile this year. With all apologies to Badmash:

Merry Krishna Cookies
3/4 to 1 cup roasted pistachios, shelled
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
8 tablespoons superfine sugar
1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 to 3 tablespoons ground cardammom
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar

Using a food processor or mini chopper, pulse the pistachios until finely ground. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

In a medium bowl, cream the butter, superfine sugar, and vanilla with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with rubber spatula. Combine the flour and cardammom in a small bowl, then add to the butter mixture, mixing on low speed until just absorbed. Scrape bowl once more. Add pistachios and mix until just combined. Knead dough gently into a smooth mass.

Pinching small pieces off the dough, roll dough into about a 1 inch ball. Place them onto ungreased baking sheets, about 1 and 1/2 inch apart. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the undersides begin to appear golden. Meanwhile, place the granulated sugar in a small bowl (You can add in a little cardammom to the granulated sugar if you like for extra flavor). Let cookies cool for about 3 minutes, then toss them, a few at a time, in the sugar bowl while still warm to coat completely. Place on racks to cool completely. Makes about 36 cookies.

Did I mention that baking is one of my coping mechanisms for stress and anxiety?

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