Hermits a la Grandma

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Shall we talk about something generic like how long January felt? Or how frustrating your commute was today? Or the raging primary and how Klobuchar beat(?) Elizabeth Warren? Or about how I haven’t updated this blog since November? 

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Oooh! Or we could talk about TV. That’s fun, people like talking about TV. We’re watching Schitt’s Creek, which is only getting funnier as it develops. And Killing Eve, that’s a good show too. Daniel’s getting me to watch Old Star Trek so I can appreciate New Star Trek. And the Oscars, they happened too! White male rage, amiright? Thank goodness for Parasite. 

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When someone asks “how are ya”, like a barista or a coworker, these are all very good things to bring up. But they don’t really answer how I AM. They talk about how the world is. They’re so much easier than looking the person in the eyes and talking about fear and grief. Of being vulnerable and open and sharing stories. 

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So, because many of us are internet strangers, and strangers don’t do sadness so well, I give you this recipe without much story. We ate them at my grandma’s house growing up, and I miss them. Endish of story.

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I used her recipe and, though they’re close, they’re not perfectly right. But they are delicious and easy and perfectly seasonal. And perhaps when you try them, you too will hear the noise of the harp in the background, and wrinkle your nose about needing to finish dinner before dessert. Or you’ll eat them and think — I know what’s missing, a bowl of strawberries with sugar on top! And tiny vases of fresh cut flowers all over my kitchen. And maybe you’ll hear a creaky old rocking horse in the basement and smell fresh laundry drying in the breeze. I don’t know how to be honest about feelings, but I do know taste memory is real. These bars transport me and comfort me, and I’m glad they’ll live forever on this site. 

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Now, read any good books lately?

one year ago: sicilian stuffed eggplant roll-ups
two years ago: gochujang roasted squash pasta salad
three years ago: miso ginger kale salad
four years ago: kasha bowl with roasted tomatoes
five years ago: bengali egg curry approximation

Hermits a la Grandma

Makes enough for two people to snack on all week, easily double it for more

6 tablespoons butter, at room temp
½ cup sugar, plus extra for topping
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons molasses
1 cup + 2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
pinch of salt
½ cup raisins (if old, rehydrate in hot water for 10 minutes before using)

Preheat oven to 375F.

In a stand mixer, cream together butter and sugar until fluffy. Pour in roughly half of your beaten egg (toss the other half or reserve for tomorrow’s scrambled eggs) and the molasses. Mix on medium speed until incorporated, scraping down the bowl as needed.

In a separate medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Add to wet mixture and mix on low speed until incorporated. Stir in raisins. 

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Wet your hands. Scoop up half the cookie batter and form into a long rope, one inch thick, on the baking sheet. Flatten the dough just a bit. Sprinkle with extra sugar. Repeat with other half of dough. 

Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until sides are starting to brown but centers remain pliable. Slice on a diagonal when cool. They keep for a very long while in a covered container at room temp. 

 

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This is the recipe my mom found and contributes to my grandma. It’s her handwriting at the bottom! A quick google revealed zero hermit recipes from Ruth Reichl, so… who knows the origin of this one. 

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Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese Hamantashen – 8/67

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Thanks, Mom, for including a hamantashen recipe in my bridal shower recipe book. Always keeping my Jewish education thriving, thanks 🙂 Although I have not been to a Purim celebration in well over a decade, when I recently saw photos on social media of others’ celebrations, I paid a bit extra attention. If I’m going to make hamantashen this year (and I HAVE to, as they’re in the book!), this was the week to do it. So, despite some pesky other life things happening (aftermath of getting married, prepping to go to Russia for 5 weeks, first explorations of our instant pot…), I made cookies.

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These cookies are so much quicker to make that I remember. I whipped the dough together (only a fork necessary!), put it in the fridge for an hour while we ate dinner, and then baked them off before meeting friends for a drink. Boom boom done. Phew.

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Daniel almost never eats sweets lying around. For example, I have been eating leftover wedding cake from the cake stand with a fork every day for the past week, and Daniel will only take a bite if I literally stick the fork in his face. He is much more interested in the jars of pickles he’s been stockpiling. And yet! These hament-ocean (as he says, to rhyme with the scotch brand Auchentoshan) keep disappearing! I should know him well enough by now to know that fruity sweets will always win him over, but I’m still wrapping my head around this concept.

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I even made a savory variety, hoping that would save me from the duty of finishing the full batch. Alas, I do love a good savory pastry (shout out to Bakeri’s savory galettes and kale rolls that I miss dearly), so this technique supremely backfired. I think I ate all the savory ones, oops. I highly recommend you experiment with this. It was a little weird, because the dough is on the sweet side, but I’ve decided it worked. 

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one year ago: nothing of note, but did you know you can make black bean soup from UNSOAKED BEANS FROM A BAG in an instant pot in less than an hour?? this SK recipe was our magical dinner last night.
two years ago: italian egg drop soup
three years ago: roasted chickpeas and kale stuffed sweet potatoes with tahini sauce
four years ago: pasta with smoked scamorza and tomatoes

(Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese) Hamantashen

I halved my mom’s recipe and it was plenty of cookies for the two of us plus a friend or two. Probably 15-20 cookies. To make more, just double the recipe and create two ovals of dough to chill in the fridge. I did two fillings — plum jam (thanks Aunt Beth B!) and the savory one roughly outlined below.

1 ¼ cups flour
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
1 tsp baking powder
2 pinches salt
¼ cup oil
1 egg
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon orange juice

FILLING: jams, caramelized onions + goat cheese, butterscotch chips if you have them leftover from your fancy challah toast, etc

In a big bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt with a fork. In a liquid measuring cup, measure out the oil. Add egg, vanilla, OJ, and mix to beat up egg a bit. Make a well in the center of flour mixture and pour in liquid mixture. Mix with the fork until a soft dough comes together. You can use your hands to knead a couple times at the end. Form into a rough oval. Wrap in wax paper and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Flour your countertop lightly. Unwrap dough and roll out to about ¼ inch thickness. Dip the rim of 3-inch drinking glass in flour, then use it to cut circles from the dough. Place ½-1 teaspoon of filling in each circle. Draw up three sides to make a triangle and pinch the ends firmly together. They may look wobbly or blob-like but they will still be delicious. Gather up dough, re-roll out, cut out new circles, repeat as necessary.

Place triangles on ungreased baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. If they slump and lose definition and become even more blobular, don’t despair, a) they will still be delicious and b) try to knead the dough a bit before your next batch. It helped me. 

I kept the onion/goat cheese cookies in the fridge and the others in Tupperware on the counter.

Onion Goat cheese filling approximation – Melt a knob of butter in a small pan. Add a pinch each of cumin seeds and mustard seeds. After they splutter, add thinly sliced onion. (I had half a red onion in the fridge so used that). Cook down for about 30-40 minutes on very low heat. Add a small spoonful to each dough round, and top with goat cheese. I sprinkled nigella seeds on a couple before baking, which never hurt anyone. Next time, might try with less sugar in the dough, and adding some thyme. 

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