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Goodbye. Hello.

There were lots of goodbyes. This is true. There were going-away parties with friends I see often and others with those I haven’t seen in over a year. Or maybe two. We’re talking about lots of cocktails, a few beers, a pizza, some Chinese food, and a few donuts. Really, I felt so loved and reluctant to leave this amazing group of people who know how to make me laugh and what to say when the cards are down. It felt a little sudden and sadder than I thought it’d be. But then, Sam arrived.

Cavallo PointEverything was set into motion. Just like that. Saturday morning we packed up the Uhaul in Oakland and drove to Marin to stay with my mom for the night. We putzed around the house, Sam napped a little, I ran around the backyard with the dogs, and my mom made a citrusy halibat. We drank rosé and tried not to be sad. The next morning I woke up early and made us sandwiches for the road. My mom walked us out and took a photo of me guiding Sam out of the driveway in that big beast of a moving truck.

Sam joked that he’d never seen two grown women start to simultaneously cry as quickly as my mom and I did. I’m going to miss the heck out of her. When I was doing the farmer’s market she came each Saturday, rain or shine, with a little lunch money, some leftovers from what she’d cooked the night before, and usually a gossip magazines or a bag of M&M’s. Other vendors came to expect and know her, she’d wear something far too stylish for a Saturday morning, and she’d always buy a little pie from me even though I’m convinced she didn’t necessarily want to each and every week. But she’s always been one of Marge’s biggest supporters, and one of my own. And it’s going to take a little getting used to the fact that she’s now a few states away.

But in many ways, a few states is not all that far. I can say that because now, just like that, we’re here.  And it’s as good as I thought it’d be. We took two days to drive from the Bay Area to Seattle, stopping in Eugene for the night to stay with Eli and Amanda and their sweet dog, Siri. Eli made a spicy chili and we sat by the fire chatting after dinner. We got up early the next morning and had a proper diner breakfast before hitting the road accompanied by Bruce Springsteen, corn nuts, weak coffee, a little Wilco, and some local radio. When we pulled into Seattle, it was the clearest, bluest day I’ve seen in a long time. It felt like the brink of summer (or at the very least, spring) — warm enough to unpack the truck in t-shirts and crave a cold beer afterwards. My friend Tara stopped by and said it must be a sign that Seattle is truly welcoming me. I like to think that may be the case.

There’s so much more to tell you and show you although, amidst all of the unpacking and settling in, I haven’t gotten around to all that much baking. Until today. See, Sam surprised me Sunday and told me that we had plans at 1 p.m. and I should wear a dress, but he wouldn’t say anything more. When we walked out to the car, there was a card on the driver’s seat and, in it, tickets to the ballet. After Don Quixote, Sam took me to Colombia City Bakery, a sweet neighborhood bakery I’d been wanting to visit for quite some time. We stepped in the door at 4:58 p.m. and they closed at 5. Quick! What to order? We did some haphazard pointing: one brownie, one blondie, a baguette, a gougère (we were hungry), hmm … maybe a tahini cookie! The gougère and the blondie hit the spot, we ate the baguette that night with tomato soup, we gave the brownie to a few friends we picked up from the airport later that evening, and ate the tahini cookie as we strolled down the block back to the car. This cookie was at once completely familiar and like no other I’d tried before.

It resembled one of my most favorite cookies, the Mexican wedding cookie, in shape and stature but it had an amped up warmth from the sesame seeds and tahini. I did some research when we got home and adapted a recipe I found online that I thought might be quite similar — and they were. I added honey for a tinge of extra sweetness and  sesame seeds to the actual dough and, let me tell you, we’re in business. Sam says I need to mention that, on the day they’re baked, they really are like a crumbly halvah cookie. So if you’re a halvah fan or know someone who is, these have your name all over them. Even if you’ve never heard of halvah, these cookies are good for afternoons when you need some energy to lug furniture around the house or puzzle over paint colors. Or really anytime at all.


Sesame Tahini Cookies
Adapted from: Epicurious
For these cookies, I used white granulated sugar for the dough itself but to sprinkle on top, I used a coarser, raw sugar. If you have sanding sugar at home, that’d be lovely too as it will keep its shape in the oven. And next time I make these, I’m going to experiment with using white whole-wheat flour. I think they’re sturdy enough in nature to accommodate whole-grain flours without even the slightest shrug.

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar + 2 tablespoons to dust on top
1/2 cup well-stirred tahini
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons sesame seeds (preferably hulled*)

Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl.

Beat together butter and 1/2 cup sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes, then beat in tahini, honey, vanilla, and 2 tablespoons sesame seeds. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture in 2 batches, mixing until a crumbly dough forms. Transfer dough to a sheet of plastic wrap and press into a disk. Chill dough, wrapped in plastic wrap, until firm, at least 1 hour.

Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Stir together sesame seeds and 2 tablespoons sugar in a small bowl. Roll dough into 1-inch balls, then roll balls 1 at a time in seeds to coat and arrange 2 inches apart on lined baking sheets. Bake until cookies are starting to crack, 12 to 15 minutes total. Cool on sheets 10 minutes (cookies will be very fragile when hot), then transfer to a rack to cool completely.

*Hulled sesame seeds are preferable for baking but they’re usually not labeled as such. Look for seeds that are pale ivory in color; they’re more delicate than the mottled beige ones, which still have their outer coating.

Makes: 20 small cookies

  1. Posted February 16, 2012 at 9:43 am

    Loving all the excitement in your posts these days, even mixed with the bittersweet the way excitement often is, and looking forward to the adventures, baking and otherwise, that lay ahead!

  2. Posted February 16, 2012 at 9:46 am

    welcome to your new home!! I’ coming up to Seattle in March! I’d looooooove to see you, Sam & your new place.

    Casey’s a HUGE fan of halvah. I’m gonna hafta make this for him! xoxo

  3. Posted February 16, 2012 at 9:56 am

    Congratulations on a successful move! I love tahini and halvah and, you know, cookies, so I shall have to make these. I’ve always been a bit puzzled about the hulled/unhulled sesame seed business, so thanks also for the explanation.

  4. Posted February 16, 2012 at 9:57 am

    Beautiful post–such gorgeous, evocative writing…and then the tahini cookies sent me over the top! I love Lebanese sesame biscuits and these ones look just wonderful with the tahini in them. Special, how you tasted and went home and recreated. Sounds like that was a wonderful way to christen your new home. Best wishes.

  5. Posted February 16, 2012 at 10:00 am

    Welcome home, Megan. Welcome Home! These cookies sound like a perfect start to this new adventure. Love to you and your new city.

  6. Posted February 16, 2012 at 10:39 am

    What a perfect, romantic gift. xo

  7. Posted February 16, 2012 at 10:43 am

    We’re very excited for you, and wish you and Sam all the best. Your mom is lucky she had you so close by for so long. I don’t like sesame seeds in my cookies. I don’t know what “tahini” is, and I’m not looking it up.

  8. Posted February 16, 2012 at 10:55 am

    blue skies, indeed. nothing but, ahead.

  9. Posted February 16, 2012 at 11:07 am

    I’ve been eagerly anticipating your first post after the move, wanting to hear how it’s all going! I feel so excited for you, even though I don’t even know you! Best wishes my friend. All good things start with cookies. ;)

  10. Posted February 16, 2012 at 1:04 pm

    Best of luck in the Pacific Northwest! Don’t fret, it’s only a short (and affordable) flight back to the Bay!

  11. Aunt V
    Posted February 16, 2012 at 5:30 pm

    I love your descriptions Megan. It all sounds like so much fun… you even make puzzling over paint colors sound romantic when for me it would be a chore. I guess I will have to adopt your approach and maybe make some cookies while I’m puzzling over paint colors. Then maybe I will invite your Mom to NYC to paint my living room and eat my cookies.
    I can just see your Mom showing up with the lunch money at The Farmer’s market.
    I’ll let Burt know what tahini is.

  12. Posted February 16, 2012 at 5:43 pm

    Goodbye Megan! We’ll miss seeing your big smile at the kitchen. I hope Seattle has wonderful things in store for you…

  13. Posted February 16, 2012 at 6:09 pm

    Lovely post! I just noticed a recipe in the Grand Central Baking Book (I love them from my time in Portland but I know they’re in Seattle, too) for a shortbread-like cookie with sesame seeds and toasted sesame oil, and I’m dying to try it. I bet it’s similar – I’lll have to try both!

  14. momgordon
    Posted February 16, 2012 at 6:53 pm

    I don’t quite know what to do on Saturday mornings, the garage seems awfully empty and I am not ripping out as many articles on new restaurants to try in the area. But seeing the beautiful, glowing Megan this past weekend in Seattle, I’ll figure out a way to deal with it.

  15. Posted February 17, 2012 at 5:14 am

    welcome to Seattle!! And hopefully you’re settling in just beautifully! Enjoy that time in getting to know a place. It’s really quite wonderful and Seattle seems like a such a lovely city! The cookies sound amazing!

  16. Posted February 17, 2012 at 11:41 am

    Welcome to your new home!! I have been eagerly waiting for this write-up and wondering what delicious treat you would be sharing! Loved reading about your journey (minus the sad parts, which actually brought tears to my eyes) as it reminded me of a couple wonderful long drives we took up that way. Gorgeous! Missing you …. but more then happy for your happiness! xo

  17. Posted February 17, 2012 at 12:33 pm

    Hooray on the move and welcome to your new home! Seattle is lovely (and it’s close to Vancouver, ahem). If you’re close to Ballard you have to try the ginger biscuits at Cafe Besalu – absolutely amazing on a Sunday morning. I love the sound of these cookies and I think I’ll bake up a batch this weekend.

  18. Posted February 17, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    I’m so excited for you to start this new adventure. This new beginning! We don’t get to start from scratch like that often and I can imagine that while it’s sad in some ways, it’s also so exhilarating. I love love love the sound of this cookie, Megan!

  19. megang
    Posted February 17, 2012 at 5:05 pm

    Thanks so much, Kasey. It’s nice because, with the new house and all, it feels like a new adventure for both of us. Also: I think you’re really going to like the cookies.

  20. megang
    Posted February 17, 2012 at 5:06 pm

    Ohhhhh Jeannette! I LOVE Besalu. Their croissants floor me, but I have yet to try their ginger biscuits so I’ll be sure to pick up a few next time I’m in. Thanks for the recommendation, and happy weekend.

  21. megang
    Posted February 17, 2012 at 5:07 pm

    Thanks so much, Denise. When I sat down to write the post, I actually started by writing about the wonderful night at your house and then it got too sad to write about much more… miss you guys, already, but I know I’ll see you soooooon.

  22. megang
    Posted February 17, 2012 at 5:08 pm

    Thank you, Olga! Seattle is a great city — you’ll have to visit sometime!

  23. megang
    Posted February 17, 2012 at 5:08 pm

    Thanks, Traci! And I heard your BIG NEWS! Congrats; I’m so happy for you, and miss all of your faces up here already. Let me know if you ever make it up this way. ~m

  24. megang
    Posted February 17, 2012 at 5:09 pm

    Thanks so much, Amanda! I like the “all good things start with cookies.” I wouldn’t argue with that at all. Have a wonderful weekend!

  25. megang
    Posted February 17, 2012 at 5:10 pm

    Oh thank you, Maureen. Yes, Sam is Lebanese and said that he’d seen similar cookies many times — that they were just new to me. But regardless, I’m a new convert. Thank you for your sweet comment. Have a wonderful weekend.

  26. Posted February 19, 2012 at 6:49 pm

    Congrats to you both. I look forward to reading about your adventures and trying your cookies.

  27. Staci
    Posted February 20, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    So glad you’re settling in! Hugs!

  28. Posted February 21, 2012 at 12:10 am

    I definitely know the dual feelings of anticipation along with reluctance to say goodbye to those you love. Very sweet pictures, and sweet telling of such a significant new chapter in your life.

  29. Posted February 22, 2012 at 11:04 pm

    bruuuuuuuuuuuuuuce!

  30. Posted February 23, 2012 at 10:38 pm

    Aw, your mom! You have such a gift for thoughtful storytelling. Hope your new adventure continues to be grand. (And those cookies, oh yes. I love sesame!)

  31. Posted February 27, 2012 at 2:38 pm

    How beautiful. My first time stumbling on your blog, and so happy to have found it. Being Middle Eastern I grew up eating sesame regularly. I love the idea of these cookies – no doubt they’ll soon be a staple in our kitchen.

  32. Diana
    Posted February 28, 2012 at 1:55 pm

    “These cookies are epic!,” said one of my guests this past Sunday. Thank you so much for sharing the recipe and for your blog, which continues to direct me towards successful dinner parties. Best of luck in your new home.

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