Orange and Maple Salt Water Taffy

It used to be obvious when summer was here. The end of June; the end of classrooms; the end of Regents week; the expiration of our student Metrocards; buying coconut Italian ices from a cart on Houston street on the way home from school.

I’m not complaining, don’t get me wrong, but getting out of school mid-May complicates things. Freshman year, after a breakfast of froyo, I packed my bags and we drove off into a spectacularly sunny morning, making a pit stop at Dunkin Donuts for iced coffee.

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Lemon Coconut Chick Pops

It’s been a good year. (In my world, the year ends when Online Stopwatch announces the end of the last final exam of spring semester.) Sophomore year is a good year because people start discovering what they really love. I declared an Economics major, joined West Philly Swingers (third time’s the charm!), and mastered 20-second icing for my Christmas cookies.

It’s nice not to feel like this anymore:

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Time Out New York Shortbread Cookies

On Wednesday night, I had a hot date…to an On Campus Recruiting (OCR) investment bank information session. Eric said he saw a bunch of other couples doing the same thing, so apparently the information session qua date night is already a thing. (And the whole time I thought we were trendsetters.)

It was my inaugural OCR event, and it was pretty darn cool (and not just because of my date). It was out of my comfort zone, but in a good way. I was the only one wearing an orange sweater with massive puff sleeves in a sea of black suits, but standing out never hurts. And how many college students have the chance to eat sushi and chat with a room full of investment bankers?

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Belated Christmas Cookies

When I was 12, my siblings and I decided to make Hanukah stockings. I hefted my Singer out of its case and stitched up boot-shaped pieces of red and white felt. As a final touch, I embroidered each of our names along a stocking in two shades of green thread.

At a young age, we were already Jews-Who-Are-Sort-of-Secretly-Jealous-of-Christmas.

Case in point: this year when I arrived home from college, I found our presents stacked around a wrought-metal side table in a suspiciously tree-like formation.

It’s not Christmas itself that appeals to us. It’s not the midnight mass and it’s definitely not the Jesus bit. It’s not Santa, and it’s not even Rudolph and his rouge-nosed cohort. For me (maybe it’s a Jewish atheist thing?), Christmas represents a wintry spirit in a way that potato pancakes and waxy chocolate coins do not. It’s the difference between “merry” and “happy”; the difference between nostalgia for snowball fights and hot chocolate and nostalgia for infantry battle and the hot Middle East.

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Rose Petal Macarons with Raspberry-Rose Ganache

Every once in a while I read something that’s so true I want to paint it on the ceiling above my bed or (in a really hardcore version of my imagination) tattoo it on the inside of my eyelids. Usually I’ll settle for inscribing it in my little black moleskin in twelve colors of fine-point sharpie, but this particular very true thing I want to share with you.

Gesine Bullock-Prado, my hero as soon as I saw the title of her masterwork Sugarbaby, writes: “I bet there’s been a day when you’ve just been minding your own business—walking the dog, doing your taxes—and you’ve heard a gut-wrenching cry pierce the air. What you heard may well have been the plaintive wail of a ‘macaron fail.’”

I can relate. I can so relate.

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Krispy Kreme Kopy Kats (or Frying, the Sequel)

Remember when I made Fried Sesame Balls with Lotus Paste? Remember how I said I’d never fry again? Well, I fried again. With the help of my lovely friend Chelsea, who had watched her mom fry chicken and was therefore qualified to supervise my frying efforts.

My own childhood was lacking in fry. Certain (Jewish) members of my (Jewish) family even refuse to fry latkes. I can count on one hand the number of times dinner has been fried, and even then, we dined on fried veggies. However, we made exceptions for the occasional donut. Once or twice a year, on a morning when we had extra time before school, we would rush to get ready and my mom would take us out to breakfast. Sometimes we went around the corner for eggs sandwiched on buttery sesame bagels from Lenny’s, but sometimes we took a detour to 72nd street for Krispy Kreme donuts. It was exciting to be eating out on a school day, and even more exciting to press our noses to the glass and watch the conveyor belt inch along, coating donut after donut with sticky sugar glaze.

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Money Club Cookies for Mom

My mom is cooler than your mom.

My mom thinks making dinner means delivery from Two Boots. Who’s complaining?

My mom was a bodybuilder in Japan. Beat that.

My mom tells the best stories and does the best imitations, even though her stories are embellished and her imitations all sound Italian.

My mom is super successful doing what she loves.

My mom couldn’t decide on a tattoo, so got a nose ring instead, until it got infected and she had to sit with her nose in a glass of salt water every night for fifteen minutes. Then she got rid of the nose ring.

My mom doesn’t nag, shout, or punish.

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