Monday, April 5, 2010

Almond butter cookies

Yesterday, my mom made soymilk again. Soymilk disappears fast in my family. We gulp down the hot liquid while eating breakfast pastries or pancakes. My family makes soymilk ourselves in our soymilk machine, pouring whole soybeans into it and waiting patiently for it to hum a tune to indicate the soymilk is ready. I know most people in the United States drink soymilk cold from a cup, but the Chinese always drink it hot from a bowl.

My mom pours some soymilk into a ceramic bowl for me. As I lift up my bowl, the steam rises up to my face, sticky and warm. I drink in the warm, earthy taste of the soymilk, and as always I am transported back to a different place: China.

My earliest memories are of my grandparents and of our small, 9th floor apartment in Beijing, China. I lived in that apartment from ages 1 to 5. Those years are now a blur of preschool friends, savory egg custards that my grandma made for me every morning, the playground in front of our apartment with the metal slide, and soymilk bought from a nearby vendor.

After I moved to the states to live with my my mom, dad, and newborn baby sister, our family would visit China almost every other summer. We would stay with my grandparent's apartment, a little crowded but we all managed to fit.

Every morning, there would be fresh soymilk or tender tofu with soy sauce, zha gao, a Chinese doughnut that is made with rice flour and sweet red-beans and then deep-fried, and jiang mi fan, Chinese rice pudding. After breakfast, we would climb down the 9 flight of stairs (we could never remember which door the elevator was operating).



I have felt a twinge of homesickness my entire life, no matter where I go. I credit that to moving so much when I was younger. I have lived in Beijing, Seattle, West Lafayette, and Charlestown before college. Beijing is the place that I have felt the least homesick in, so I guess that makes it my first home.

For a city about the size of Delaware, Beijing is home to 13,000,000 people. Unlike New York City, with its bustling traffic and its glamorous Time Square, Beijing is a bit more humble. It has neighborhoods where you can find people playing badminton, sheets hanging out to dry, the elderly playing chess on cracked, cement tables, and people with wagons selling fresh produce.

The summer after I finished high school, my mom took both me and my sister to Beijing. She could only stay for one month, but my sister and I were free to stay the whole summer, and so we did.

With my mom, we explored the tourist sites: the national parks, Great Wall, Tian An Men Square. When she left, my sister and I wanted to relax and spend the rest of our summer in a quieter fashion. Not to mention we wanted to eat. Eating is so easy in China. Not that it's hard here, but it's just so convenient in Beijing. There would be vendors at every corner selling juicy lamb kebabs, Chinese biscuits, pastries, fried squid, Chinese omelets, etc. You can hear people shouting for you to buy their food amidst the traffic noise of cars honking and bicycle bells ringing.



My sister and I would ride the crowded public bus to Xi Dan Shopping Center and spend the blistering hot day in the cool, air-conditioned stores. We would eat squid kebabs with tomato sauce and slurp the thick yogurt from ceramic jugs. And most of all, we ate Chinese almond cookies. Those cookies were mildly sweet, light, and crispy, so light that I once ate five cookies and still managed to eat dinner.



The almond butter cookie recipe I'm going to share with you isn't the same recipe as the almond cookies we ate in China. In fact, I'm not even sure they're even Chinese. But they're soft and sweet and awfully good. With the light flavor of the almond extract, these cookies do remind me of hot summers in Beijing.

****

ALMOND BUTTER COOKIES

Ingredients
1/2 cup almond butter
1/2 cup maple syrup
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped almonds

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. In a medium bowl, combine almond butter, maple syrup, canola oil and vanilla extract until well blended.
3. Ina small bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
4. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, along withch0opped almonds and stir until just combined.
5. Let sit for 5 minutes.
6. Roll heaping tablespoons of dough into balls, flatten to about 1/3 of an inch and place onto cookie sheet
7. Bake for 8-10 minutes.

Yield: 18 cookies

3 comments:

Lazaro Cooks! said...

Almond cookies are always a treat. Squid kebabs how awesome is that?! I want one.

Shauniece said...

I LOVE LOVE LOVE ALMOND COOKIES!! Thanks a bunch for posting the recipe!

Katie said...

Lazaro- I was really hungry after writing this post.

Shauniece- I agree- almond cookies are awesome. It's a nice change from the usual peanut butter cookies, which are also delicious.

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