Sunday, October 01, 2006

Two Fruity Cookies for Two Kooky Fruits


I took this picture as ECG and I wandered among the historic trains at the LA County Fair on Sunday. I loved the cracking paint, the rust peaking through the white surface, and the three-dimensionality of the number two. I also loved watching ECG examine each engine in the train exhibit. When he looks at machines, he can see how each part works together in small movements to make one large movement. He can see the direct line between each rivet and a cross-country train trip. He can see the whole of a machine when all I see is thousands of individual parts.

But, I can do things that he can't do. I can read an entire book in one sitting. I can multitask like a rockstar, and make pottery, good food, and lesson plans that can turn non-writers into writers who are proud of what they write. I can identify this purple flower as a member of the Passiflora clan in less than a millisecond. He appreciates these qualities in me, just as I marvel at the miraculous things he can do. I don't expect him to be just like me; in fact, I expect him not to be. I found an incredible person who differs from me in every way possible. Why did I choose someone so different?

Here's why. I have a beautiful model of two people, different in every imagineable way, who have survived 35 years of marriage: my parents.

A week ago today, my parents celebrated their 35th birthday. To stay married this long to my father, my mother had to make all sorts of sacrifices, including homes, peace of mind (Dad will be a risk-taker until the day he dies), and her career. To stay married to my mother, my father had to sacrifice his devil-may-care attitude and the frequency of his being "right." My parents don't have the same approach to problem-solving, to physical endeavors, or to most social situations, but those differences have allowed for both parties in the marriage to grow. Both of my parents are better people because of the experiences that they've shared with each other, and both have learned compassion in accepting each as the other is. Their marriage hasn't been an easy one, but it is the best model of love, forgiveness, and acceptance that I've ever seen.

To ensure that my parents had a sweet reminder of each of their 35 years, I made them two batches of cookies. Since it is fall, I felt the need to base my recipes on the autumnal bounty of good fruit, so I made them apple-oat cookies and my favorite spicy cookie recipe, persimmon-ginger cookies. The apple-oat cookies are good, but the persimmon-ginger cookies are great. Each cookie is moist, laden with the pumpkin-ish flavor of cooked persimmon and spices, a little nippy with ginger, and chewy from the raisins. Autumn, you've arrived, in form of a cookie.

Persimmon-Ginger Cookies

I found the inspiration for this recipe on the Carnegie-Mellon's School of Computer Science's Recipe Archive one day when I was searching for ways to deal with the glut of persimmons that I received from my friends S and RWW. Trader Joe's bags full of fruit cluttered my counters, so I needed good ways of cooking the orange beauties. The recipe did not work well as written, so I tinkered with it quite a bit to make it produce the tender bites of the season it now guarantees.

You will need:
1 cup sugar
½ cup unsalted butter
1 egg
2 small very ripe Hachiya persimmons
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon allspice
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup chopped candied ginger
½ cup golden or red-flame raisins
1 cup chopped walnuts

To make the cookies:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Rinse the persimmons and remove their stems. Plop the fruit, skin and all, in a food processor. Add the teaspoon of baking soda, and whirl the fruit to form a puree. Let the puree sit for a few minutes as you prepare the next step. You’ll find that the addition of the backing soda to the fruit will make the persimmon pulp gelatinous. (It’s a fun little science experiment!)

Cream together the butter and the sugar until fluffy, then add the egg and beat until it is well-incorporated. Add the gooey gelatinous mess of persimmon puree, and beat again to mix well. Set the beaters aside as you won’t need them any longer for this recipe.

In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, spices, and salt. Fold the dry ingredients into the persimmon mixture. Don’t beat, but mix thoroughly. Fold in the raisins, ginger, and walnuts.

Drop the cookie dough by the spoonful on Silpat or parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake the cookies for 15-17 minutes, until they are a rich, coppery-brown. Let cool on a rack. Dig in.

1 comment:

Grover20 said...

I just discovered your blog today as I scoured the web in hopes of finding recipes for the large pile of persimmons recently donated to my cause... I ended up making a persimmon bread with ginger, dried cranberry, walnuts, but next on my list is this cookie recipe – after I pick up some candied ginger.

As the bread was baking, I read bits of your blog. I really enjoyed reading your thoughts and smiled about how a stranger's life can mirror your own (or inspire you to get back to what you know you were called to do). I know well the ebbs of school year calendar, I just finished Kingsolver's most recent book (my high school English teacher introduced me to her through Animal Dreams, I only later discovered her essays), I find solace in cooking and walking, and really needed motivation to find the local farmers markets here in my adopted country, New Zealand. I'm dreaming of the day I can have a veggie garden, compost bin, and a couple hens for eggs and a backup market for veggie scraps. Part of why I left home was because I felt like a fish out of water, and reading your blog reminded me that plenty of people are seeking good food, sustainability, and flowing words there too. At any rate, thank you and enjoy the buzz of the final days of the school year! - SC