Facebook notified me that I flew back to Minneapolis one year ago this week. As some of you likely recall, I was living in Atlanta, Georgia at the time. There were probably a lot of forces at play, but this was a pivotal trip to the North. I wonder sometimes if I just missed the place I call home. It didn’t take very much to convince me to fly back to Minnesota for a day and a half (in fact, it took only one Skype date and two days off in a row).
I flew in late one night. Immediately removed from the airport, I remember standing outside the coffee shop that hired me, watching my friend Mike mop the floors at close. I sang “Once Upon A Dream” as I videotaped him from the other side of the glass, his gait hinting at a waltz. When, at last, he emerged from work, he confirmed that his headphones were playing exactly that. We stayed up through the night catching up, and he told me I had become a better person.
The next morning, I went to a different coffee shop, one I had frequented when I had lived across the street. The manager surprised us with little cups of eggnog to welcome me home. After that, we meandered through the Delacroix exhibit at the Minneapolis Institute of Art.
For some reason, the security guard felt Mike stood too close to a sculpture when we arrived. The guard followed my wonderful friend throughout the exhibit, and I giggled the whole time. One man observing art, one observing a man observing art. Then, the world stopped. Until that moment, I had never seen Van Gogh’s Still Life with Meadow Flowers and Roses. I often think of the silence that seized me as I took in that beautiful vase and its contents, overflowing and scattering the way delicate thoughts rest on the emotions. I actually cried at the sight of that piece.
I remember turning, after a long while, to find the guard facing me. Mike was on the other side of the door, right next to the words, NO RE-ENTRY. His hopeful face was pressed up to the glass like a Kelsey before the display at an ice cream shop. I still laugh when I think about it.
That night, I sat outside The Copper Hen, mulling over some feelings. When I was ready, I walked in to find more loved ones. Some had rearranged their schedules last minute. Maybe it was the Sweet Potato Cupcakes with Toasted Marshmallow Frosting that convinced them, I don’t know. I remember my friend Melissa leaning over the table to tell me I was loved. It was that moment, right there, that made me choose to move back.
That, my friends, is what good decisions look like. If it’s a question of whether or not to be with the ones you love (who make you feel loved), the answer is obvious (though, admittedly, not always easy to maneuver). If it’s a question of what life might look like if you move forward, and whether or not you will be happy again, I am standing on the other side these days, saying, “YAS QUEEN.” And I have cookies in my hands, too!
I can confidently say that these were made with only everything nice. Sugar. Spice. I promise, zero little girls were harmed in the making. Instead, I obliterated Fuyu Persimmons to make bright orange purée. I chopped walnuts. I poured in some golden raisins. My impulse control is at an all-time low currently, because at some point, I couldn’t stop myself from adding dried black mission figs to the mix, too. We end up with a delicately cakey cookie, speckled with purple and gold and toasted nuts, then drizzled with cinnamon spice icing. Because it is nearly Christmas once more, and I am so happy to be at home this time around.
Finally, I’d like to point out: this is often a glorified time of year. Please know that if you are not feeling this way-if you are feeling helpless, alone, abandoned, abused, lost-that I hope things mend themselves for you. It can be hard to be human when the rest of the world is lit up with silver and gold. Sending you all love, healing, and cookies, no matter your circumstances. ❤
Figgy Persimmon Cookies with Golden Raisins and Walnuts
Makes about 2 dozen
3 ripe Fuyu persimmons, peeled and roughly chopped
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp allspice
pinch of ground cardamom
2 sticks (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp molasses
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup roughly chopped walnuts, toasted
1/2 cup dried black mission figs, chopped
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
3-4 tbsp heavy cream
In a medium bowl, use a handblender to puree the persimmons until smooth. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, and cardamom. In a large bowl, beat butter, sugar, and molasses until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in vanilla. Beat in eggs one at a time. Beat in persimmon puree. Add dry ingredients in halves, beating until just combined. Stir in walnuts, figs, and golden raisins. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Scoop one heaping tablespoon for each cookie, rolling each into a ball with your hands. Place cookies on baking sheet about 2 inches apart, as they will spread while they bake. Bake for 10-12 minutes, rotating halfway through. Let cool for about two minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely before icing. Repeat for the rest of the cookie dough.
Sift confectioner’s sugar into a medium bowl. Whisk in cinnamon and ginger. Pour in vanilla extract and 2 tbsp heavy cream, stirring to combine. Add more heavy cream, one tablespoon at a time, until the mixture is smooth and easily spreadable.