Recently, as my husband and I reminisced about the years we served in a college ministry, we marveled over the extensive role that food played in our meetings, especially the ones at home. We were newlyweds then, and I reveled in the opportunity to learn how to find my way around the kitchen and the locally owned shops in our town. I still remember where we could go to purchase fresh pasta, edible flowers, or sashimi-grade salmon — somewhat sparingly, of course, as we were living on a research assistant’s salary.
Still, I had time to try new cooking techniques and recipes, and a surge of affection rises when I think of the students and friends who joined us at our table. I don’t think you can find a more appreciative recipient of a home-cooked meal than a student living away from home. I still remember Chris’ look of wonder at a proffered plate of Seared Tuna with Mojo, and Mary’s delighted grin over our Christmas meal of Cornish hens and Italian stuffed tomatoes.
Motherhood has slimmed my culinary repertoire into meals that require less prep time and pantry planning, but I’ve entered a new phase of food education in recent years. We’ve had the good blessing of feasting with friends who have dietary restrictions, and have identified some restrictions of our own.
There’s nothing romantic about having forbidden foods, but there truly is an unmistakable richness in eating with loved ones who are thankful for what they can have — and it’s even more delightful when they have the relief of knowing they can partake of everything on the table.
Our family’s Christmas cookie recipe this year springs from the joy we take in celebrating with our friends, dietary restrictions and all. It is gluten-free and dairy-free, yields 4 net grams of carbs per cookie, and may fit the guidelines of other diets as well. Most importantly, a freshly baked batch brings people wandering into the kitchen and never lasts more than a day at our house. The recipe seems to be a good base for creative variations, if you’d like to try your hand at one; my daughters and I are looking forward to figuring out a gingerbread version later this month.
Merry Christmas, friends!
May your homes be filled with laughter, fellowship, and the occasional silence
of loved ones stopping to savor tea and treats at your table.
Soft and Scrumptious Chocolate Chip Cookies
Yields about 15 cookies
1 1/2 c. almond flour (almond meal will work too, but it will yield a different texture)
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. fine sea salt
2 Tbsp. Nutiva butter-flavored coconut oil
1 Tbsp. coconut sugar (add 1 Tbsp. if you like your cookies sweeter)
1 Tbsp. honey
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/3 cup 70% cacao dark chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 375F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium bowl or on the baking sheet (I’m a kitchen tool minimalist), combine the almond flour, baking soda, and salt.
In a large bowl, mix the coconut oil, coconut sugar and honey; add the vanilla and egg, and mix thoroughly. Add the almond flour mixture to the bowl, and stir until well combined.
Stir in the chocolate chips. Roll the dough into 1-1.5 inch balls and place them on the baking sheet, flattening them gently into desired cookie shape (the dough won’t spread on its own). Bake for 8-10 minutes, until the edges are golden to light brown.
Maple Pecan variation
Instead of 1 tsp. vanilla extract, add 1 tsp. maple flavoring or syrup.
Omit chocolate chips, and add 2 tsp. cinnamon, a dash of nutmeg, and a pinch of ground cloves.
Top each cookie with a pecan half.
The beautiful featured image of Chocolate Chip Cookies is courtesy of Wendy Rueter from Unsplash. Thank you, Wendy!
Amy Baik Lee writes from a desk looking out on a cottage garden, usually surrounded by children’s drawings, teacups, and stacks of patient books. She is a former scholar of medieval and Renaissance literature at the University of Virginia, a sometime author of devotional short stories, and a current member artist of the Anselm Society. Ever seeking to “press on to [her] true country and to help others to do the same” (C.S. Lewis), she posts essays and stories about Homeward longing at Sun Steeped Days.