People ask me all the time why I do what I do. The easiest answer is “because food is love,” but there is so much more to it than that. Food tells us a story rich in history and for me, it is reminiscent of time when life was simple. Food can be a way we travel back to memories of our childhood, special events and sometimes all it takes is one bite to loosen up something within us that enchants our soul.
Growing up a “first gen” kid comes with stories you couldn’t make up if you tried. Funny moments of conversations getting lost in translation, watching the gentle juggle of families trying to balance “old world” traditions with “new world” style. Harnessing the culture that was left behind and building a life in the land of opportunity.
I never grew up dunking Oreos in my milk. I don’t even think I knew what an Oreo was until I saw the infamous “twist, lick, and dunk,” commercial on TV. My grandparents would take an out of the way ride to the Italian imports store to buy things like Nutella, Aranciata, and Stella Doro cookies, which at the time could not be found in a regular grocery store.
The “S” cookies were always my favorite. I loved going on a scavenger hunt through the cabinets to find these simple, yet delicious confections and dunk them, knuckles deep into a glass of cold milk, and once I got older, into a hot espresso after Sunday dinner.
Opening the oven today and smelling those beautiful cookies reminded me of my grandmother. Her “perfume” consisted of scents of lemon zest, vanilla, almond, and anise. These cookies are my memories. They are my laughter, my tears, my skinned knees, and my elementary school plays. They are my warm hugs, by back seat road trips, and my favorite childhood songs. They are my home.
So why do I do what I do? Because how magical is it that a little sugar, some flour, eggs, and a swirl of a wooden spoon could be such a reminder of so much love.
"S" Cookie Recipe
For two dozen...
4 Eggs plus 1 for wash
1 1/2 Cups Sugar
Zest of 1-2 Lemons (to taste)
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
3/4 Cups Olive Oil
4 Cups Flour
2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
Preheat oven to 375.
Mix flour and baking powder and leave to the side.
In a separate bowl whisk together eggs, sugar, lemon zest, vanilla, and oil until well combined. Slowly fold in flour and baking powder, I do this in three stages. Your dough will be smooth and have a stiff texture but may still stick to your hands. (My personal tip, add a little oil to your hands for rolling and shaping).
Line your cookie sheet with foil. Start with a small handful of dough and roll into snake shape and form and "S" before placing onto the foil. Leave about an inch between each cookie as they will expand as they bake.
Bake 18-20 minutes or until golden brown.
If you want to ice them, use that lemon that you zested and squeeze about 2 tablespoons of juice and combine with 1/2 Cup of confectioners sugar and whisk until smooth. Dunk cookies or brush on the icing. Don't be afraid to make them pretty with sprinkles or colored sugar.