I took the last two weeks off from blogging to cultivate more stillness in my life. As much as I love sharing, baking and writing, the past few months have been hard. Since Ryan and I have been married (2 years), we've lost a father, a sister and a nephew. We've been in the ICU far too many times, and I pray we won't have to visit again anytime soon.
So when my bloodwork came back abnormal a few weeks ago, the weight of these past months and years caught up to me. I felt scared and defeated. I cried and I turned in my bed at night. How much more can we bear? I asked.
The fragility of life can be overwhelming.
But when you are consistently confronted with death, you learn how to breathe deeper, to love better, to sit outside and let the sun warm you in ways that a blanket or a coat never can.
And so in the midst of my fear, sadness and confusion, I also found ways to live deeper.
Ryan and I learned that we both have a soft spot for expensive Italian food and stray cats. We realized that going to the mall makes us want to burn our possessions and move to a farm. We remembered that being next to someone you love is one of the greatest gifts in the world. We listened to birds, we watched baby squirrels, we baked soft pretzels and ate more pizza than we have in months.
Quite simply: we lived.
I'm thankful to be back in the kitchen, but my time away was a blessing. It allowed me to be taken of by others. I became the recipient instead of the giver.
But on Friday afternoon, I knew I needed to bake. I wanted a recipe that was both simple and wholesome. A recipe that required a few quality ingredients and no more than an hour in the kitchen.
These shortbread cookies were just what I was looking for. They are simple yet delightful. The spices in my teabag added a complexity of flavor that most shortbread cookies lack. Many variations of this recipe call for Earl Grey Tea, but I found that my favorite Mandarin Spice worked just as well.
These cookies must be rolled into a log and refrigerated for an hour before slicing and baking, so remember to plan accordingly.
I hope you can carve out an afternoon to bake some shortbread, pour yourself a big glass of tea (cold or hot), and read a favorite book. I know that this is the kind of self-love I've been needing.
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 TBSP loose leaf tea (Earl Gray or Mandarin Spice)
1/2 tsp sea salt
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
1. In a medium bowl, whisk together your flour, tea, and salt. In either a food processor or your stand mixer, combine the dry ingredients with the butter and vanilla. Mix together just until a dough has formed.
2. Place dough on a piece of plastic wrap and shape into a log with a 2 inch diameter. Tightly twist each end of wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
3. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Using a sharp knife, cut your shortbread log into cookies, about 1/2 inch thick. Bake until the edges are just golden brown, about 12-15 minutes. Allow to cool on wire rack before consuming.
Anecdotes and Apple Cores