“The human soul does not merely hunger for beauty, we feel most alive in the presence of what is beautiful—it returns us, often in fleeting but sustaining moments, to our highest selves. Beauty ennobles the heart and reminds us of the infinity within us.”
I have found myself sharing this quote with my new yoga students here in San Antonio lately, maybe because I find myself in a new region and new home, and am missing the Virginia scenery and changing of the colors. So the last few weekends Badge and I have made a point to get out of our still-not-completely-unpacked house to see the sights and play tourist.
Before we left the D.C. area, a friend remarked, in awe, on just how much we had seen and done despite our only living there a year. With a laugh, I told her I’d share my secret: live with a constant sense of the temporary, the idea that you never know how long you have in a single place.
Since Badge and I were married almost ten years ago (pause here to insert gasp and then to regain composure), we have moved thirteen times and for a few consecutive years there we relocated every three to six months—thank you student life and summer internships! Our pitiful budget landed us in ghetto student housing on the sketchy side of town, basements bragging postage stamp-sized kitchens and moldy floors. We spent summer months in a dark and echoing convent-turned-hostel patrolled by thin-lipped administrators and stout, harrumphing nuns. We bunked with humanitarians bound for India and lived across the hall from shady dealings in a thick cloud of ethnic scent wafting up from a melting pot (no pun intended) of broken-English-speaking immigrants.
So, you know, it’s been… fun.
Seriously, though, it really has. Because with all of the madness there have also been lovely, life-changing moments and memories and friendships and growth. From our first date, Badge and I were united in a desire to see as much of the world as was possible in a lifetime and, while traditional sightseeing harbored some appeal, we adamantly agreed the best way to accomplish our goal was to move regularly and become locals wherever we lived. No denying this style of living has had its moments of worry, frustration and stress, and to say it hasn’t put an extra strain on relationships would be an outright lie, but the lesson learned and the joy found in all of this is that beauty lives everywhere, if you look for it.
And so, though I find myself in a land where ‘brisk fall weather’ constitutes a temperature drop from 98°F to 89°F, and killing and disposing of cockroaches may very well become a morning ritual— though I certainly hope my bravery and ability to control my banshee shrieks and flailing limbs increases with time— I, like Mrs. Peacock, am ‘determined to enjoy myself.’
Along with the 'when in Rome' mentality there is also a well-deserving place for comfort food, especially in response to the needs of a weary, homesick soul. Enter Homemade Oreos. These cookies are delicious on their own or sandwiched with a creamy yogurt filling that beats the shortening-based, mouth-waxing original by a mile. Just like those dated commercials warned, these treats disappear fast so there are a few things you should know: first, this recipe doubles easily and second, baked cookies stored in a Ziploc, artfully hidden beneath a bag of frozen peas in the farthest reaches of a freezer, will keep for up to a month... or until you can get the house to yourself.
Homemade Oreo Cookies
11 oz. 70 % bittersweet chocolate, chopped
3 Tbs. unsalted butter
½ c. brown rice syrup or honey
½ tsp vanilla extract
1/3 c. almond meal or whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp kosher salt
¾ cup plain non-fat Greek yogurt
1 Tbs. coconut sugar
Preheat the oven to 350°F and line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.
In a small bowl, stir together the meal or flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.
In a stainless steel bowl set over a pan of simmering water, melt the chocolate and butter. Alternately, use the microwave in short, 10-second bursts to avoid burning the chocolate. Set aside to cool slightly.
Using an electric mixer, whisk the eggs and syrup or honey until a ribbon forms when the beaters are lifted and held above the bowl, about 5 minutes.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl and, using a rubber spatula, stir in the vanilla and the melted chocolate and butter.
Still using the spatula, gently fold in the flour mixture and allow batter to sit 5 minutes.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Scoop cookie dough by the tablespoon, spacing 2″ apart on prepared pans.
Bake 9 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking time. Remove from the oven and allow to cool 5-10 minutes before removing from the sheet. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
In a small bowl whisk the yogurt and coconut sugar together until blended. Spread a teaspoon of filling between two cookies and sandwich together. Makes 3 ½ dozen individual cookies or 18 homemade oreos.