A couple of weeks ago Jonji and I made another trip up North, this time via car. We drove straight to Menlo Park on Saturday, entertained by the complex world of Cormoran Strike, in order to make it on time for Todd and Jessica’s wedding that afternoon. We got ready with friends at their hotel and then Ubered to the venue, arriving just before everyone was supposed to sit down.
The ceremony was absolutely lovely. Todd and Jessica said their sweet (and funny) vows underneath a magnificent oak tree, the setting sun streaming through the leaves in a warm, golden cascade. Everyone cheered as they kissed, then walked back down the isle as husband and wife, and we all broke into excited chatter as we waited to give our congratulations. Even Sharkie showed up for the festivities, which gave everyone a laugh.
Photo: Brandon Blanks
Photo: Ruby Upadhyay
Dinner was extremely pleasant, as we got to sit with all of our closest friends at the wedding. Jonji revealed that he may, in fact, be a real wizard, when he retold the story of Omri’s hair catching fire. As he said the word, “fire,” a girl leaning over to congratulate Todd and Jessica got a little too close to the candle. Either it was chance or Jonji needs to be punished by the Misuse of Magic Office—both are equally likely—but her hair went up in flames as he said it. After Todd’s mom jumped up and batted the sudden flames back, the girl was totally fine. So rather than being a terrible accident, the worst part was simply the smell of burnt hair.
The rest of the evening passed by quickly, with the last hour or so taken up by energetic dancing. Finally, we all sent Todd and Jessica off in a tunnel of giant sparklers, trying not to catch each other on fire in the process. After a quick trip to the after-party at a local bar, Dan and Tiff dropped us off at our car. Rather than opting for a hotel room floor, we squared our shoulders and drove the hour-long ride to Santa Cruz to ensure we would get a decent night’s sleep.
The next day we woke up late, and enjoyed breakfast while my mom set up for her final day of Open Studios in the backyard. I got roped into baking Mom’s gingersnap cookies, which sent their spicy aroma spiraling through the kitchen and out into the backyard. Once her “studio” was open to the public, I stayed inside to get homework done, occasionally nipping in and out of the kitchen to say hello to visiting friends.
After spending most of the day holed up upstairs trying to get homework done, I finally took a short break to venture into the forest for some fresh air with Dad and Pip. I brought my manual camera along to take photos in an attempt to capture a bit of my favorite place to bring back to LA. Pippin was a good subject, and posed for plenty of photos while I adjusted for the dappled lighting under the redwoods. The forest seemed to breathe as we walked through it, our muted steps barely disturbing the ancient quiet of the trees, our figures scattering spots of light as if they were motes of dust.
Upon our return, I drove over to Pat and Taz’s and we all set out from there for Laura’s birthday celebration at Beer Thirty. I had the chance to chat with old friends, eat some good food, and spend time with the cute kids. Taz served up an excellent angel food cake, which we quickly devoured. The leftovers were left to tilt farther and farther over as the meringue weighed more heavily on the airy cake, until it finally keeled all the way over. Feeling a similar way ourselves, Jonji and I drove back to my parents’, where we had a delicious dinner with Mom, Dad, Emma, Bailey, Danny, and Emily.
The next day we left early, wishing my parents good luck before their grand trip to Italy (where they are currently traveling with Emma and, by the looks of all the photos, having a blast). We made it back to LA in good time, wishing we could have stayed home longer, and forced ourselves to get a bit more work done before bed.
There are few foods that bring such strong memories to my mind, but these gingersnaps are one of them. They are quintessentially Open Studios for me, since Mom has made them every year since she entered into the event. Sometimes Manga takes over, churning out batch after batch in the hot kitchen the Friday before the show, or it’s me or Mom or Bailey in there, pressing each ball of dough with sugar. Regardless of who bakes the cookies, they are always there and are always a huge hit with quests. The soft, spicy cookies send warmth and comfort through your whole body, rather like a sip of butterbeer.
Mom’s Gingersnap Cookies
makes 40 cookies
1/2 lb unsalted butter (2 sticks), at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup molasses
3 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp powdered ginger
1/2 tsp each ground coriander and cardamom
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Place the butter in a large bowl and beat using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or a wooden spoon ) until light and fluffy. Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy again. Add the vanilla, egg, and molasses and mix until combined.
In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, salt, cinnamon, ginger, coriander, and cardamom. Add this dry mix to the wet ingredients and beat until just combined.
Chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
Line a couple cookie sheets with parchment paper. Roll the dough into 1-inch balls and place on the sheet, leaving a couple inches between each. Fill a small bowl with sugar. Wet the bottom of a small glass jar or cup, stamp into the sugar, and press lightly onto a ball of dough (the cookie should still be about 1/4 thick). Repeat, stamping with more sugar each time, with every cookie.
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through. Let cool slightly before removing from the pan. Enjoy warm or cool!