You don’t need me to remind you that being stuck in an airport for over 6 hours is not a desirable way to spend a day, but I’m here to tell you anyway. I’ve been in Portland, Maine for the past two days; instead of flying out as planned, thunderstorms kept us from leaving. I waited patiently as they cancelled flights, one by one, to nearby destinations. The blinking notice board at my gate kept refreshing: 30 minutes late, one hour late, two, two and a half, back to one, back to two, and so on. At each update, I clutched my crumpled boarding pass, debating whether to cut my losses and at least make something of the day. The flight attendants swore our flight would leave, and promising signs kept happening (bags loading, an order for jet fuel placed, pilots entering the cockpit). Finally—nearly 7 hours after I got to the airport—we started boarding, only to see the sign at the gate suddenly flash with red CANCELLED letters halfway through zone 1 boarding.
I’d like to say I cheerfully packed up my bags, quickly seeing how much better off I was than most passengers: I didn’t need a hotel room, and could take a quick cab ride back to my sister’s cozy apartment and a shower and warm dinner and snuggly baby to hold. I wasn’t missing a big meeting or a connecting flight or traveling with exhausted, cranky kids.
But reader, I did not. I had a minor meltdown and burst into tears outside the baggage carousel. I was tired and emotionally wrung out and ready to be home.
As with any small crinkle in plans, I’m learning to look at this as practice for being calm and taking things in stride. I remind myself that I am only going to benefit from honing that skill. I also remind myself how important it is to make yourself as resilient—emotionally and physically—as possible when things are sunny and solid and good, so that you’re less likely to fall apart when things don’t go as planned.
In lieu of instant paths to emotional resiliency, I’ll offer you a very fantastic cookie recipe. Learning to bake a really good, not-too-crumbly tea cookie is a great skill. It might not stop you from sobbing in public in the Portland International Airport, but it’s not nothing.
These cookies are a standout for a few reasons. One, they’re made with almond meal which gives them a really nice nutty flavor. You can buy almond meal or you can grind your own. I haven’t tried the recipe with other nuts, but I imagine a blend of almonds and hazelnuts would be really fantastic, as would a mix of almonds and pecans or walnuts. I wouldn’t try using 100% hazelnuts as I suspect the nuts would be a bit too oily.
Two, these cookies are a fun summertime riff on a very classic recipe, which you usually see around the holidays. They’re called Mexican wedding cookies sometimes, or sometimes Russian tea cookies. Recipes vary slightly but the general idea is a crumbly, tender, nut-based cookie that’s rolled in confectioners’ sugar.
Instead of leaving them as is, I use crushed freeze-dried raspberries to add some color and fruit flavor to the cookies. I like to buy whole freeze-dried fruit, then smash it up so it approaches a powder but still has some bigger chunks. You can smash it up to as fine a powder as you like—try it and see what appeals. I used raspberries, but I imagine that freeze-dried blueberries, strawberries, or even mango would be really delicious. Do let me know if you give any of those a shot.
Additionally, you can roll these cookies in sugar if you like, or you can skip that step if you prefer a slightly less sweet (and less messy) cookie.
Raspberry Almond Tea Cookies
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup (4 ounces) confectioners' sugar, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups (8 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup almonds, toasted, cooled, and finely ground (or 1 cup almond flour)
One 1.3 ounce bag freeze-dried raspberries, crushed roughly into powder
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Cream together the butter and half of the sugar until fluffy. Beat in the vanilla and salt, then add in the flour and almond flour and mix to combine.
Add the raspberry powder and mix until evenly colored throughout.
Scoop the dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet in about 1" balls. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until lightly golden brown, then remove from the oven and let cool. Once they've cooled for at least 10 minutes, roll them in the remaining confectioners' sugar (you can skip this step if you want).