Around the old water cooler at work, conversation veers towards the topic of snacks I suggest that something tasty to nibble on might perk us up for our next meeting is a round of something tasty to nibble on. True, we could also replace “meeting” with “series of emails, and leaving work half an hour early”, but I aim for realism.
“Oh, no, no snacks,” is the resounding chorus. “I’m on a diet!”
I forgot. It’s January. Also known as International Go On A Pointless Guilt-Diet Month, a venture that normally lasts for, well, a month.
I’m not advocating for crap-gorging. Personally, I spent a yawn-inducing last two months of 2014 engaged in a mandatory and demotivational cleanse that left me sidestepping sugar, fruit, vinegar, soy sauce, and my semi-annual glass of port, so I’m ready for a moderate portion of tasty treats.
Where is it written that when women get together, we have to gasp, squeak, and exclaim about the need to Watch Our Weights and pretend that cocoa-based products, root vegetables, and anything with a higher caloric count than unbuttered cardboard is off limits? Who thought it would be fun to swap stories of how we (sigh) just need to loose some weight?
Perhaps the idea comes from those delicate comments that life sprinkles in our direction to test how well our tactometer’s working. For me, tonight, it was the perfectly lovely acquaintance who, after not seeing me for four or five months, gestured to my high-waisted tunic and joyously asked “Are you pregnant?”
“What makes you ask?” I wanted to reply. “My ever-present post-sex glow?”
Instead I went for the B-rated low-hanging fruit and told her, “Nope. Just fat,” bringing the conversation to a close. Which is all a girl could ask for, really.
So, in celebration of January, of tactless questions, and of things that taste better than unbuttered cardboard, I came home, fired up the oven, and whipped up a batch of Almond Shorbread. It’s a recipe I’d like to continue to tweak, but it hit the spot well enough for me. I like an almost-savoury cookie, so next time I might nip the sugar down a bit, and toss in lemon zest to cut some of the richness.
Almond Shortbread (working recipe)
3/4 cup Earth Balance or your fave vegan spread
1/2 cup unrefined or minimally refined sugar
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 tsp almond extract
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup almond flour
pinch of salt
1. Preheat oven to 325 F.
2. In a stand mixer, cream fat and sugar until fluffy, adding vanilla and almond towards the end.
3. Turn mixer down to low and add almond flour, whole wheat flour, and salt. Mix until just combined.
4. Shape into two oblongs of about 4 inches by seven inches. Press batter down to make oblongs smooth and even, and gently score batter into 3/4″ bars. You aren’t separating the batter into individual bars, just making markings where the batter may be sliced after the cookies have baked. Poke top of the batter gently with a fork to make a design, if you like.
5. Bake for 13-15 minutes, then remove from the oven. While cookies are still warm, slice through. Allow to cool 10-15 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.
6. Sit, eat, and thumb your nose at tactless people who ask poke at your belly and ask if you’re pregnant.