Hey kids, I'm sorry that I've been quiet for a while. I've been feeling particularly apathetic lately about expending effort on activities other than eating and learning Spanish; so, while I've been making all sorts of food and going on all sorts of adventures, I haven't been motivated to write about any of it.
Last night, though, I made a glorious molasses bundt cake with my amazingly lovely crew sister Suzanne that I want to share soon. Also, I recently decided to return to pescetarianism - I've been going strong for a week now, huzzah - but don't panic, it's only for a little while, there is still bacon in my future. For all the happiness (and sleep, my goodness) that has filled me up these past couple months, I've still had those anxious, overwhelming days where I don't feel like I have any control at all, where I just want to curl up under my blankets and magically be older, settled and peaceful and strong. I suppose those moments won't ever leave me, no matter how well I am.
During when I was pescetarian a couple years ago, I found that removing meat from my diet inspired me to be more creative and thoughtful about the food I make. Cooking is so therapeutic for me because it is simultaneously a creative exercise, an assertion of control over my existence, and nourishment for both my mind and body. It's really easy to make something delicious with meat (baaaacon); but it's an entirely different thing to compose something that's hearty and interesting mostly from vegetables (I can't afford to eat fish everyday, let's be real). I enjoy that challenge. It makes cooking even more of a creative exercise, which is something I've really been craving. My coursework this quarter isn't terribly stimulating, and I've been hammering away at the same project at work for a couple weeks now. I've run into a wall with Spanish where I know enough vocabulary and constructions to try conversing with my friends, but I don't have enough experience to be intelligible, so I end up having to be corrected most of the time. Of course that's a crucial part of learning a new language, but I feel like I'm accumulating all of this knowledge without being able to use it. It's frustrating because I just want to be proficient already. This is all quite unreasonable of course, but I'm impatient.
I can't complain for too long, however, when I remember that I have such wonderful people who care about me, and cookies. Mostly cookies.
Fig and Date Swirled Cookies
adapted from Gourmet via Lottie + Doof
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 c sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg yolk
1 3/4 c all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 c soft dried dates
1 c soft dried figs
1 tablespoon honey
1/3 c water
Whisk together flour, allspice, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. In another bowl, cream together the butter, cream cheese, and sugar for 3 minutes until pale and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla and egg yolk, then add the flour mixture. Once the flour has just become incorporated, split the dough evenly into two pieces and wrap each one separately in plastic. Chill for an hour.
Meanwhile, puree the dates, figs, honey, and water in a food processor until smooth.
Roll out one half of the dough at a time into a 9x7 inch rectangle, 1/3 inch thick or so, between two sheets of either wax or parchment paper. Remove the top layer of wax/parchment paper, then spread half of the fig-date filling over the dough, leaving a 1/4 inch border on the sides. Starting on one of the long edges, use the bottom layer of paper to help you roll the dough into a log (like you're making cinnamon buns). If you want, you can coat the outside of the log in Muscovado sugar at this point. Either freeze or refrigerate it until solid (~4 hours in the fridge).
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Cut the roll crosswise into 1/3 inch-thick slices and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 15-17 minutes until golden brown, then cool slightly before devouring.