Lemon Cookies

30 May

It’s been thunderstorming for days here, which never ceases to be exciting.  I ran to the library the other night to pick up research material in the middle of the wildest storm I’ve witnessed as a sentient human being (I was a baby when I experienced a tornado down south), jumping in all of the puddles on the way back and miraculously not damaging any of the books.  And today it’s been an odd mix of forebodingly cloudy and warm and sunny.  I have a pre-occupation with weather.  Most people think of it as a painful subject of small talk, but I could talk about the weather for… a really long time.

But I won’t!  Instead I will talk about lemon cookies.  I made these cookies because I had sour cream left over from the chocolate sour cream bread I wrote about in my last post, though they only use 1/4 cup.  I got the recipe from the inestimable Chow Hound, in particular, pamd’s answer to this topic.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 stick butter (1/2 cup)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest

Recipe:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar for about 3 minutes, until light and fluffy.

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Add the sour cream and egg, beating until well combined.  Mix in the dry ingredients until combined, and then stir in the zest.

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Drop by the teaspoonful onto greased baking sheets (or whatever you do with your baking sheets), spacing the cookies about an 1 in-1 1/2 in. apart.  The original recipe says to bake them for 20 minutes, but I found they were done in ten.  These cookies are soft and fluffy, so they’ll be done as soon as they start to brown on the edges even if they look raw in the middle.

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Okay, so the reason I didn’t want to recommend any of the Chinese fiction I’ve read is because I didn’t care for it overwhelmingly.  It was good enough that I finished the books in 2 days or fewer, but they speak to this problem I have with contemporary Chinese fiction.  A lot of it is very crass and bleak and doesn’t have very strong characterization.  A lot of it is historical, as well, taking place in the Cultural Revolution most frequently.

I absolutely understand why, it’s just not something I’m really into.  Actually, Sinica, over on Pop-Up Chinese did an excellent podcast on Mo Yan that touched on the problems I have, which were shared by one of the guests on the program.  I tend to prefer more cosmopolitan fiction.  I definitely don’t want to say more “refined”… but I like books that deal more with contemporary city folk like myself rather than people in the countryside, which is what a lot of Chinese writers write about for obvious reasons.  I think writers like Yu Hua and Mo Yan are very talented and write beautiful books that I tend to tear through when I have the time, but I prefer Japanese writers on the whole because of how they write and the people they write about.

That said, I love Guo Xiaolu, who is obviously Chinese, and I recently discovered Ying Hong, who I think is fabulous.  I read her book Summer of Betrayal, which is about a young female poet during the Tiananmen Square massacre and in the months following.  Her characters were really strong and wonderful, and her main character went through such a delicately written and beautifully paced transformation.  I really haven’t seen another writer whose characters grow so easily and naturally.  The book is very political in a lot of ways, but the characters don’t get overshadowed by events.  If you can find it (I’ve had to request her other books through WorldCat), then I highly recommend it.  I’m about to start her short story collection of gay and lesbian fiction and have high hopes indeed.

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