So last week my intention was to share exciting news that some of you may have seen on Instagram. Philip and I are adding a petit chou to our family in early March! What I wrote was flowery and happy and about coconut macaroons and cranberry spritzers. And while I will still get to the coconut and cranberries, before I hit publish, last weekend happened and I felt that being quiet and taking time to reflect was the best reaction for me, at least online. I’ve read a lot since then, some pieces just straight facts – many of which were new facts to me – and a lot of opinion pieces about what it means for Paris, for French Muslims, French Jews, what it means for France and what it means for Europe.
And then I felt the little life inside of me kicking away, oblivious to anything happening on the outside (except that perhaps mom should take more naps during the day) and I cherish every moment when it is just us two, communicating together in this unique way that only lasts for 40 weeks. And then a small sense of fear came over me: what kind of world am I bringing this little person into? And is it all possible that it will get any better as he or she grows up? I want to be optimistic for the human race but to be honest, sometimes I am not that hopeful.
As I personally try to stay optimistic and as some articles pointed out to us, we must do our best to not live in fear, I was also lucky to have a close friend send me a message right at the moment when all of these thoughts were going through my head. She was two months away from having her baby girl at the time of the 2005 London terrorist attacks and the same thoughts went through her mind. And her advice was pure: We just must keep giving as much love as possible. I understand there is more that goes into all of this than just a parent’s love; there is education, racial discrimination, religious tolerance, government support. I as someone who has very few real worries in life can’t even begin to form an opinion about something so complex. What Philip and I can promise on this day, seven weeks away from saying hello to a new person joining our crazy world, is that we promise unconditional love.
And now to not get too sad over here on a blog about kale and food and such, it’s time to talk about coconut and cranberries. Let us not forget that I, Kristen Beddard, the person with practically zero sweet tooth my entire life, have been chowing down on treats over the past 8 months! This is only more reason to share the wonderful sweets prepared for the December baby shower my mom organized in Pittsburgh. When her friend Laura, who also has an up and coming catering business in the area suggested macaroons, I wanted to clarify that she did not mean French macarons (yes, spelled with just one “o”) because frankly, I don’t love them. Now coconut on the other hand, I adore and these were dipped in dark chocolate adding a nice bitter taste to the sweetness of the rest of the cookie.
To top it off, Laura suggested having a homemade cranberry simple syrup for beverages. It truly is the jack of all trades drink as it works with white wine, sparkling water, champagne, or prosecco. I personally did not cook these but did a lot of tasting and can assure you they are delicious. Consider Laura the guest cook of this post.
A big kiss to my mom for throwing me a beautiful shower and most importantly for showing me unconditional love that I only hope to pass on to our next generation. I can’t wait to experience this new adventure with her.
serves 20-24 cookies
via Ina Garten
14 ounces sweetened shredded coconut
14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 extra-large egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
2. Combine the coconut, condensed milk, and vanilla in a large bowl. Whip the egg whites and salt on high speed in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until they make medium-firm peaks. Carefully fold the egg whites into the coconut mixture.
3. Drop the batter onto sheet pans lined with parchment paper using either a 1 3/4-inch diameter ice cream scoop, or 2 teaspoons. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown. Cool and serve.
Cranberry Simple Syrup
Makes 1.5 cups
via Martha Stewart
2 1/4 cups fresh or frozen cranberries (8 ounces)
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1. In a medium saucepan, bring cranberries, sugar, and water to a simmer over medium. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until cranberries are tender but haven’t burst, 10 minutes. Let cool, then strain through a fine-mesh sieve. Discard cranberries.
For those in the Pittsburgh area, Laura Mastrorocco is a Personal Chef for Taste Catering based in Leetsdale, PA. She will tailor a menu to suit your occasion. Taste specializes in homemade cuisine made from the freshest ingredients. Gluten-free and organic options available. Contact Laura at: email@example.com or by phone at 734-776-3158.