At the window

The upper floors of Chicago's Fisher Building (© Celia Her City)

The sun strikes the top of the Fisher Building and the flat modern facade of the CNA.  The light strikes the city, whose landmarks are the creations of different ages and mentalities, the works of egotists and humble builders unknown.  We live among these warring monuments, counting the years of their lives, wondering, perhaps, which is greatest and the dearest, and why.  Myriad sights like this one flow in through our eyes, pulling crosswise at our affections and allegiances.  We live with their deeds.

The gift of cookies

Viennese crescents (Credit: Celia Her City)

Yesterday I spent almost the whole day baking.  Among other things, I made a batch of Viennese crescents, which is a recipe I love because it’s elegant and makes many dozen cookies.   Plus it’s easy.

I favor recipes that have familiar associations.  This one I first made with a friend in my first or second year of college.  We were in charge of providing the cookies for a holiday study-break and made these in the basement kitchen of our dorm.  My friend found this recipe, which we had to try because, in the introductory text, some food authority had declared it “the greatest cookie recipe ever devised.”  I’m not sure about that, but it sure is fine.

These particular cookies are made with ground walnuts, but there are many national variations of this recipe, some using almonds, others leaving out the nuts entirely.  Butter and powdered sugar make the cookie.

Baking, like jewelry, is all about the associations.  The memories that crowd around our favorite recipes keep us company in the kitchen, a gift that is every bit as precious as pearls.

Midnight Kitchen

Midnight kitchen II (Credit: Celia Her City)

The time for holiday baking is late at night: when the baker is tired but the house is quiet.

Last night I made ambrosia macaroons from a recipe I’d never made before.  In truth, I had never made a macaroon, and I was fascinated to learn that they contain no flour.  They contain butter, sugar, salt, coconut, and eggs; in this case, grated orange peel.  It’s a good Southern recipe, which finishes with the macaroons being drizzled in bittersweet chocolate.

Ambrosia macaroons (Credit: Celia Her City)

I was pleased with the way the cookies turned out.  Coconut can be cloying, but because of the sharp orange flavor and the bitterness of the chocolate, the flavor is very complex and not too sweet.  I think these will be a hit with our far-flung relatives, when they come upon them in the annual cookie tins.