There Will Be Dragons

Packed up the first of the local Mother’s Day treat packages — lily-of-the-valley soap and bath salts, baked goodies and confections. And locals get a little potted lily-of-the-valley too. Supplies limited — I think I can do 4 more before I run out of cookies. I’m done with baking for a bit…need to get back to writing. 

(Treat boxes will return in June — we’ll open up ordering for them next week. I think the theme will be dragons.)

Details here:

Packing for Mother’s Day

Spent the morning packing up and setting out Mother’s Day treat packages for shipment. It was a bit of a squeeze, getting them all done in time, and I had to enlist Kevin into cookie-dough making because I was running short on time and getting physically tired, but in the end, we made it. Whew.

I’m still taking orders on the Shopify site, but can no longer guarantee shipping by Mother’s Day. Locals, if you’d like a little potted lily-of-the-valley (traditional Mother’s Day flower) to go with your order, I’d be happy to include that. (I’m slowly digging mine up and replacing with native ground cover, so I have plenty to spare…)

Mask orders are open on the site too, but please note that I’m at LEAST 3 weeks out on sewing masks now. So only order if you are feeling very patient.

Mother’s Day Medium Treat Box

Packing up the Mother’s Day treat boxes for shipping out tomorrow — this is the medium box. Kevin periodically asks me whether it’s actually worth the amount of time and effort I put into this, and so I feel like I should note for the record that strictly speaking, it isn’t. I have to run the numbers at some point, but I’m guessing I barely break even on doing these boxes. So why do them?

a) It means that when I’m doing recipe development, I can make back some of the costs of ingredients and time to try variations until I settle on a recipe I really like. It’s a shame I can only do that for items that I can ship — I can’t easily send out curries! The plan for Feast is that we’re going to release smaller cookbooks in future months, including one for sweets that I’m hoping to have ready by October or so, in time for holiday baking. So everyone who’s ordering these boxes, thanks — you’re helping me develop more and better recipes for that! (Which also means I can post the recipes, which feel like tiny gifts to the world in the midst of all this.)

b) it’s a nice break from the computer — especially now, during pandemic times, it’s really easy for me to spend most of the day sedentary. For the first month or so, I spent so much time on converting my classes to online versions, not to mention researching masks and mutual aid, that my poor Fitbit was shouting at me that I was only getting 2K steps a day or so. Just lots and lots of sitting. Baking is much more physical, and when I mix cooking and gardening into my day, I feel physically better at the end of it.

c) I just like sending out presents. I mean, I know people have paid for these items, but it still feels like sending out presents, you know? Here’s everything that’s going into a medium box this time around:

1 Lily-of-the-valley soap
1 Lily-of-the-valley bath salt
1 Lavender soap
1 Lavender bath salt
5 Spiced Chocolate cookies
5 Jaggery Chai Spice cookies
5 Lime and Rosewater Shortbread cookies
1 five-piece set of assorted chocolates, marshmallows, and cashew milk toffee
1 set of five postcards

Fun to wrap up, fun to ship out. I mean, if I were doing thousands of them, it would be less fun, but I’ve limited it to 10 boxes each, max, so that shouldn’t be a problem.

And as a bonus, sometimes people add on books — the box I just wrapped also took a copy of The Stars Change and a copy of Feast, the one I’m doing next wants a copy of Perennial. More people reading my books = yay! If they eat some lime shortbread while they’re reading them, even better. 

Please order by end of today if you want them shipped out in time for Mother’s Day! Here is the link:

Lime, Rosewater, and Ginger Shortbread, Dipped in White Chocolate

Lime, Rosewater, and Ginger Shortbread, dipped in White Chocolate

When you find yourself going back into the kitchen to see if there are any crumbs left on the plate, you know you have a winning recipe; I think this is now my absolute favorite shortbread. Adding in some citric acid gives a seriously tangy punch to these buttery-rich bites, but they would still be tasty without. The white chocolate’s sweetness balances the tang beautifully, but they’re delicious straight up too, especially warm from the oven.

Note: I find that a pair of kitchen shears is much easier to work with than a knife for cutting up sticky crystallized ginger.


3/4 pound unsalted butter at room temperature
1 c. sugar
2 scraped vanilla beans or 2 t. pure vanilla extract
3/4 t. salt
1 lime, zest and juice
1 t. citric acid (optional)
1 T rosewater
3 1/2 cups flour
1/2 c. crystallized ginger, chopped fine
1 c. white chocolate chips (optional)
luster dust and a bit of vodka for decorating (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 350F.

2. Cream together the butter and sugar; add the vanilla and salt, citric acid, lime juice, lime zest, and rosewater. Then add flour and mix on low until dough forms. Stir in ginger.

3. Turn out dough onto floured board. (If it’s not coming together into a dough, the heat of your hands will help.) Firmly pat flat (to desired cookie height, usually about 1/2 inch). If using cookie cutters, cut out shapes, place on parchment-covered baking sheet, and chill for 15 minutes (to help hold shape).

NOTE: Can be kept chilled at this point for several days, covered in plastic wrap, and then rolled, cut, and baked fresh.

Alternately, press into baking pan or shortbread mold, prick with fork. (For this batch, I simply pressed into an 8 x 8 baking pan.) You can also cut shapes out after baking — shortbread is very forgiving that way — but then the individual cookie edges won’t be browned.

3. Remove from fridge and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the edges begin to brown, then remove to wire rack to cool.

4. Optional decorating — once shortbread has cooled, melt white chocolate in microwave at half power for a few minutes, or in a double boiler. Dip shortbread pieces in chocolate, then set on rack to dry. Once dry, brush with luster dust mixed with a bit of vodka.

Sometimes You Need a Punch

My vanilla beans were a little dry, so I ended up rehydrating them in warm water for the weekend’s cookie baking (for the Mother’s Day treat packages, ordering deadline today for shipping, btw). Worked fine, and I do love the specks of actual vanilla bean in the dough. But I admit, I was pretty excited that my order of Penzey’s double-strength pure vanilla arrived on Saturday. Vanilla BOMB.  Sometimes you need a one-two punch, or even one-two-three.

For the lime shortbread cookies, I ended up using lime juice, lime zest, and citric acid to get the flavor I wanted. Most lemon / lime sweets aren’t tangy enough for my taste — investing in the bag of citric acid has been very helpful to my kitchen experiments!

Never Uniform Enough

Okay, I am never going to be able to produce desserts uniform enough for a French patisserie! Yet another reason why I won’t be applying to the GBBO or its offshoots.

(I was listening to the Milk Street podcast yesterday while gardening, and they interviewed someone who’d worked at The French Laundry, I think it was, and it sounded just brutal. When they say things like ‘you have to be in your mid-20s to start as a chef, or your body just physically won’t be able to handle it…oof.’)

But still, these white chocolate-dipped lime, rosewater, and ginger shortbreads are pretty darn cute. The sparkly green and gold accents make them look a little more Easter-y than I anticipated, but that’s just fine. 

Ruby Chocolate with Pear

Ruby chocolate with pear and a drizzle of white chocolate. Tasty. And you know how it’s satisfying to unwrap a piece of foil, especially if you spread it out really flat? It’s also sort of satisfying to wrap one, it turns out. Odd that it’s nice, but it is.

Serveware from Target

About two months ago, I was at Target, and they had all this serveware on clearance. Now that I have a food-related business, even though I really have enough serveware, it’s impressive how easily I can convince myself that South Asian-ish serveware is a legitimate business expense and I could really use a little more.

I do love it, though. The taupe ceramics mix beautifully with the pewter candlesticks, the white and off-white dishes I already had, the gold patterned linens and glassware.

The Target stuff has actually been sitting in my car for two months, because I bought it just before all this pandemic stuff went down, and then with all the book launch events cancelled, I suddenly had much less need for serveware. Honestly, it’s been depressing me every time I got in the car, a reminder of what happened to my poor cookbook.

But yesterday was Kevin’s and my 28th anniversary. We’d actually gotten into a small fight earlier in the day (pandemic-related, as we were arguing about differing opinions on risk behavior), and I had a moment of not wanting to celebrate at all.

But we talked (or rather, messaged each other because we were both busy with teaching work all afternoon for the last day of classes and set up a time to talk later), and I had faith that we’d sort it out. So I decided we should do something properly celebratory for our anniversary. The days are such a haze right now; whatever we can do to give them structure and mark the passage of time helps, I think.

I brought all bags in from the car and unwrapped them, which was actually very cheering, like getting presents from my former pre-pandemic self. And then I cleared all the sewing stuff off the dining table, which felt a little surreal, since it’s been living there for more than a month.

I set the table, and ordered a rather ridiculous amount of food from La Notte, a local Italian restaurant that I’d like to see stay in business. I ordered four appetizers, four entrees, and four desserts, which is at least two or three meals for us, but that’s fine — this weekend, I’m busy baking cookies for Mother’s Day treat boxes that ship out Tuesday, so it’s just as well if we aren’t trying to do much in the kitchen otherwise.

After ordering and arranging, I went back to teaching, trusting that Kev and I would sort things out before dinner, and then we’d all have a lovely meal. And the serveware will be used for Serendib Kitchen someday too. We’ll re-launch the cookbook, and lots of people will enjoy it. I have faith.

Update for Mother’s Day Treat Boxes

Stephanie took a little time this morning to update the listing for our Mother’s Day treat boxes, so people have a better idea of what’s actually in them, and we’ve added a Small size too. Please order by Monday lunchtime if you’d like them shipped in time for Mother’s Day!

(Porch pick-up is also available for locals, though I’m not quite sure how we handle the shipping costs; I think we’d reimburse them to you? Still figuring out the details of the new Shopify store.)

(Note — my previous boxes included Feast — this one doesn’t, so I can fit in more sweets and soaps instead. So if you want the cookbook, that should be added on separately.)

Small Boxes – $27.99 ($19.99 + $8 shipping)
1 Lily-of-the-valley soap
1 Lily-of-the-valley bath salt
3 Spiced Chocolate cookies
3 Jaggery Chai Spice cookies
3 Lime and Rosewater Shortbread cookies
1 five-piece set of assorted chocolates, marshmallows, and cashew milk toffee
1 set of five postcards

Medium Boxes – $49.99 ($34.99 + $15 shipping)
1 Lily-of-the-valley soap
1 Lily-of-the-valley bath salt
1 Lavender soap
1 Lavender bath salt
5 Spiced Chocolate cookies
5 Jaggery Chai Spice cookies
5 Lime and Rosewater Shortbread cookies
1 five-piece set of assorted chocolates, marshmallows, and cashew milk toffee
1 set of five postcards

Large Boxes – $74.99 ($54.99 + $20 shipping)
1 Lily-of-the-valley soap
1 Lily-of-the-valley bath salt
1 Lavender soap
1 Lavender bath salt
1 Rose soap
1 Rose bath salt
7 Spiced Chocolate cookies
7 Jaggery Chai Spice cookies
7 Lime and Rosewater Shortbread cookies
2 five-piece sets of assorted chocolates, marshmallows, and cashew milk toffee
1 set of five postcards