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Entries in coconut (31)

Tuesday
Apr012014

Coconut Macaroons

Coconut Macaroons

It rained today, a slow drizzle from the sky bringing as much gloom as a single afternoon could muster. Never, I dare say, has such a day felt more needed. This feeling spread like a contagion through the high school, my students infected with the Friday afternoon jitters though it was only Monday. It was a sign that winter was going to end, that the months spent hiding indoors were worth the wait, a sign that we could begin to breathe again.

I feel as if I've been holding my breath too long.

Coconut Macaroons Coconut Macaroons

I am afraid winter managed to get the best of me this year. It was a longer and colder winter than I can remember from years past, weakening my spirit in subtle, but significant ways. The sun didn't bring warmth to my skin; the wind cut through my winter coat. With a heavy workload and small town isolation, I often slipped into a melancholy mood, feeling as if the light behind my eyes had dimmed.

Standing in the crowded school hallway, the bell ringing to signal the changing of classes, it smelled like rain and dirt and people. I breathed in deeply, filling my lungs. I never thought that this smell was one I could miss. I never imagined that this scent, damp and dank, would be the sign of spring I was so desperate for.

I paused to take another breath before heading back to class.

Coconut Macaroons

The best coconut macaroon I've had was at a small bakery tucked away in a large market. It didn't look like much, so small as it was, but the texture—dense and endlessly chewy—was worth noting. I've thought of those macaroons often since then, whipping up a batch here or there in my own kitchen. The cookies were neither dense nor chewy enough to satisfy my tastes. Though each cookie was eaten, but I could not help but compare them with each bite.

After fiddling around with this recipe, I uncovered a version that comes quite close to the coveted texture of that small bakery. I am satisfied.

Coconut Macaroons

Coconut Macaroons are a simple, five ingredient cookie, that celebrates coconut. With maple syrup to sweeten and vanilla to complement, these cookies become quite addictive (especially if you have a cup of tea in hand). If you prefer a lighter macaroon, simply decrease the baking time, but I enjoy them best when dark and golden (which the recipe reflects below).

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Monday
Mar242014

Orange Coconut Pull-Apart Bread

Orange Coconut Pull-Apart Bread

A glimpse of spring came earlier this week, with rising temperatures, freshly revealed patches of brown grass, and a collective sigh of relief. However, just as soon as it came, it left, drowned out by a new layer of white and acknowledged with a thick scarf wrapped around my neck. Winter is not ready to leave yet. I tucked my spring clothes back in the closet and, with a hint of reluctance, pulled on another winter sweater.

Soon, I must remind myself. Soon.

Orange Coconut Pull-Apart Bread Orange Coconut Pull-Apart Bread Orange Coconut Pull-Apart Bread

In an effort to knock the winter doldrums away, I've been trying to brighten up the kitchen with more color and brighter flavors. It was this spirit that guided me back to an old family recipe, a favorite of my Grandmother Irene. She would make her orange rolls as a welcome to spring and the arrival of Easter, adored and devoured by friends and family alike. Though I have never met her, I feel as if I know her, just a little bit, through her food.

I played with her recipe a bit, decreasing the sugar and adding a touch more orange, but keeping the essence of the recipe close to heart. There are too many family memories and remembrances wrapped up in the layers of dough to alter it any further.

Orange Coconut Pull-Apart Bread Orange Coconut Pull-Apart Bread

Though I took an easier route with the dough—cutting it into squares and stacking it—instead of creating individual rolls, I feel as if my grandmother would not have minded. A little short cut now and then never hurt anyone, right? Once baked and soaked in glaze, I took my first bite. And then second. And third. This bread holds the heart of spring in each layer. I find myself easily saying just one more slice before repeating the phrase a few minutes later as if it was my new mantra.

While the wind may still blow and the snow may still fly, in my small apartment it is spring.

Orange Coconut Pull-Apart Bread Orange Coconut Pull-Apart Bread

Orange Coconut Pull-Apart Bread is a riff on a dear family classic. Though it may take a new form, the flavors are still full and bright. A sweet, rich dough is painted in melted butter and topped with a mixture of orange sugar and coconut. The dough is sliced, stacked, and baked, wafting sweet aromas throughout the home. When it emerges, it is drowned in an orange glaze, which soaks deeply into every nook and cranny of the loaf. This loaf is a special one; it should not be missed nor failed to be shared.

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Thursday
Sep122013

Honeyed Apricot Granola Bars

Honeyed Apricot Granola Bars

So much has happened since we last spoke that I wouldn't know where to begin. I feel as if more than a month has passed, as if I have aged half a dozen years in a few short weeks. Life is a mixture of exhaustion and transition right now, as I adjust to my new beginning. There have been so many changes to my daily life and I haven't had a moment to sort out my feelings about them. In many ways, it feels like I took off running and I am still trying to catch my breath.

Breath in. Breathe out. Breath in.

Honeyed Apricot Granola Bars Honeyed Apricot Granola Bars

This evening, I'm sitting on a new couch in a new apartment, propping my feet up on a new coffee table. The space is smaller than before, built for only one, but somehow it suits me. The view from my window stands in contrast to the old, as different scenery from a different state looks in. I have unpacked my belongings, trying to fit the pieces of my old life into my new—a jigsaw puzzle of memories and unfamiliarity, as the two sets of pieces merge to form a completed image.

The final picture is just beginning to form, the edges in place, but the middle is still muddled, an unclear image of the final product.

Honeyed Apricot Granola Bars

I have been so caught up in these life adjustments, drained of thought or energy, that I haven't opened the oven door in over a month. It feels strange to have abandoned baking for so long, holding it so close to my heart as I do. During a morning rainstorm last weekend, I turned on the oven and tried to rekindle some of the familiarity I had lost in the move. I made granola, a simple comfort food with a touch of character.

The scent of granola wafted through the apartment, erasing the foreign scents and replacing them with something closer to home. For this, I was grateful.

Honeyed Apricot Granola Bars

Honeyed Apricot Granola Bars are filling and wholesome. Dried apricots are plumped up by soaking in black tea and are pureed to form the base of the bars. With honey for sweetness and nuts and dried fruit for interest, the chewy bars make a quick breakfast or snack complete. The bars bake up soft, but hold together well, cutting neatly into pieces.

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