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.
Everything 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 halibut. 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
- Yield: 20 small cookies
- Prep time: 10 mins
- Cook time: 15 mins
- Inactive time: 1 hr
- Total time: 1 hr 25 mins
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.
Adapted from: Epicurious
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.
Healthy Comfort Food
Thai Carrot, Coconut and Cauliflower Soup
People describe raising young kids as a particular season in life. I hadn't heard this until we had a baby, but it brought me a lot of comfort when I'd start to let my mind wander, late at night between feedings, to fears that we'd never travel internationally again or have a sit-down meal in our dining room. Would I ever eat a cardamom bun in Sweden? Soak in Iceland? I loved the heck out of our tiny Oliver, but man what had we done?! Friends would swoop in and reassure us that this was just a season, a blip in the big picture of it all. They promised we'd likely not even remember walking around the house in circles singing made-up songs while eating freezer burritos at odd hours of the day (or night). And it's true.
Oliver is turning two next month, and those all-encompassing baby days feel like a different time, a different Us. In many ways, dare I say it, Toddlerhood actually feels a bit harder. Lately Oliver has become extremely opinionated about what he will and will not wear -- and he enforces these opinions with fervor. Don't get near the kid with a button-down shirt. This week at least. He's obsessed with his rain boots and if it were up to him, he'd keep them on at all times, especially during meals. He insists on ketchup with everything (I created a damn monster), has learned the word "trash" and insists on throwing found items away on his own that really, truly are not trash. I came to pick him up from daycare the other day and he was randomly wearing a bike helmet -- his teacher mentioned he'd had it on most of the day and really, really didn't want to take it off. The kid has FEELINGS. I love that about him, and wouldn't want it any other way. But, man it's also exhausting.
Cheesy Quinoa Cauliflower Bake
I just finished washing out Oliver's lunchbox and laying it out to dry for the weekend. My favorite time of day is (finally) here: the quiet of the evening when I can actually talk to Sam about our day or sit and reflect on my own thoughts after the inevitable dance party or band practice that precedes the bedtime routine lately. Before becoming pregnant for the second time, I'd have had a glass of wine with the back door propped open right about now -- these days though, I have sparkling water or occasionally take a sip from one of Sam's hard ciders. Except now the back door's closed and we even turned on the heat for the first time yesterday. The racing to water the lawn and clean the grill have been replaced by cozier dinners at home and longer baths in the evening. You blink and it's the first day of fall.
Stuffed Shells with Fennel and Radicchio
I'd heard from many friends that buying a house wasn't for the faint of heart. But I always shrugged it off, figuring I probably kept better files or was more organized and, really, how hard could it be? Well, I've started (and stopped) writing this post a good fifteen times which may indicate something. BUT! First thing's first: we bought a house! I think! I'm pretty sure! We're still waiting for some tax transcripts to come through and barring any hiccough with that, we'll be moving out of our beloved craftsman in a few weeks and down the block to a great, brick Tudor house that we wanted the second we laid eyes on it. The only problem: it seemed everyone else in Seattle had also laid eyes on it, and wanted it equally as much. I'm not really sure why the homeowner chose us in the end. Our offer actually wasn't the highest, but apparently there were some issues with a few of them. We wrote a letter introducing ourselves and describing why we'd be the best candidates and why we were so drawn to the house; we have a really wonderful broker who pulled out all the stops, and after sifting through 10 offers and spending a number of hours deliberating, they ended up going with ours. We were at a friend's book event at the time when Sam showed me the text from our broker and I kind of just collapsed into his arms. We were both in ecstatic denial (wait, is this real?! Did we just buy a house?) and celebrated by getting chicken salad and potato salad from the neighborhood grocery store and eating it, dazed, on our living room floor. Potato salad never tasted so good.
Smoky Butternut Squash and Three Bean Chili
If your house is anything like ours, last week wasn't our most inspired in terms of cooking. We're all suffering from the post-election blues -- the sole upside being Oliver's decision to sleep-in until 7 am for the first time in many, many months; I think he's trying to tell us that pulling the covers over our heads and hibernating for awhile is ok. It's half-convincing. For much of the week, instead of cooking, there'd been takeout pizza and canned soup before, at week's end, I decided it was time to pour a glass of wine and get back into the kitchen. I was craving something hearty and comforting that we could eat for a few days. Something that wouldn't remind me too much of Thanksgiving because, frankly, I can't quite gather the steam to start planning for that yet. It was time for a big bowl of chili.
To Talk Porridge
Porridge is not the sexiest of breakfasts, it's true. It doesn't have a stylish name like strata or shakshuka, and it doesn't have perfectly domed tops like your favorite fruity muffin. It doesn't crumble into delightful bits like a good scone nor does it fall into buttery shards like a well-made croissant. But when you wake up and it's 17 degrees outside (as it has been, give or take a few, for the last week), there's nothing that satisfies like a bowl of porridge or oatmeal. It's warm and hearty and can be made sweet or savory with any number of toppings. The problem? Over the years, it's gotten a bad rap as gluey or gummy or just downright boring or dutiful -- and it's because not everyone knows the secrets to making a great pot of warm morning cereal. So let's talk porridge (also: my cookbook comes out this month! So let's take a peek inside, shall we?)
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!
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
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.
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.
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.
Welcome home, Megan. Welcome Home! These cookies sound like a perfect start to this new adventure. Love to you and your new city.
What a perfect, romantic gift. xo
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.
blue skies, indeed. nothing but, ahead.
Amanda @ Once Upon a Recipe
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. ;)
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!
Aaron from The Amused Bouche Blog
Best of luck in the Pacific Northwest! Don't fret, it's only a short (and affordable) flight back to the Bay!
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.
Goodbye Megan! We'll miss seeing your big smile at the kitchen. I hope Seattle has wonderful things in store for you...
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
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!
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.
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!
Thank you, Olga! Seattle is a great city -- you'll have to visit sometime!
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
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Congrats to you both. I look forward to reading about your adventures and trying your cookies.
So glad you're settling in! Hugs!
kale @ tastes good to me!
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.
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!)
Yasmeen @ Wandering Spice
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.
"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.
i just made these and my mother brother and i ate all of them in 2 days .. they where that good!
these are a new favourite in our house. so good! they work well with spelt flour, too. and with coconut sugar (that just makes them a bit darker).
Thanks for letting me know, Tina! So glad you all enjoyed them!