Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Almond Sugar Cookies

There was never a time when I wasn't tall. In fact, proportionally, I used to be even taller. It was noticeably uncomfortable for both kids and adults around me. It was only somewhat uncomfortable for me -- I never wanted to buy clothes at Limited Too anyway, and sometimes I got to use the teacher bathroom because people thought I was a teacher.

My dad was thrilled, because my height meant one thing: basketball. It was somewhat irrelevant that I have limited hand/eye coordination and run like I have weights attached to my hips. (I mean, in a way, I do?) I started basketball when I was 6, in a community rec league. My dad coached and we always "tied" (bullshit). In 5th grade, I started playing traveling basketball for the St. Louis Park Orioles. Tournaments consumed our weekends. My parents shuttled me to outer suburban gyms, to places like Inver Grove Heights and Minnetonka and Coon Rapids (real). I played basketball with the same ladies for years and years, and most of them became the "popular girls" when junior high rolled around. Socially, I stayed where I was. I have this weird memory of hanging out between games -- they were talking about boys and eating concession nachos and I thought, Wow, if I ate nachos right now, I would not look as cool." 
7th grade Emily showcases her inner thigh meat

It was fine. I was a generally nice girl, in the process of cultivating a sense of humor, but I didn't know my own strength. So, for many years, I would foul out of almost every game. That's five fouls. Five times I physically accosted a stranger in less than an hour -- and got caught. One time, I hit a girl really hard on the head when she was trying to shoot because I either thought her head was the basketball or it felt like the right thing to do in the moment, and she had to sit out the rest of the game because she was "potentially concussed." Another time, I was fighting over the ball with a very tiny girl who definitely had not gotten her period yet and when I pulled the ball towards me, she came with it. I "shook her off" and she hit the wall. "Stay away from 33!" Other moms would shout. Of course I felt bad. I felt like this giant, uncontrollable beast who was out for blood -- kept in a cage during the week and only released to play in the Moundsview Winter Hoopz tournament. In reality, I wanted to ask my opponents if they had ever seen Saturday Night Live and if the glow-in-the-dark rubberbands on their braces brackets also turned yellow.

I quit basketball my sophomore year of high school and it broke my dad's heart. I had never seen him so sad. I quit to focus on improv, which was his nightmare. But also, I kept injuring my knee and my coaches were incredibly mean. One coach made fun of the fact that I was an editor for the high school newspaper -- I think she called me a nerd? I was over it.

Recently, basketball reentered my life in a disproportionately big way. I was invited to play with some wonderful ladies on the Lucille Ballers, part of an LA women's rec league. Out of the 12 registered teams this season, 8 are made up of mostly improvisers (and actors and writers and general comedy ladies and... models?). It's so fun and we are all very serious about it. We seem to be good enough to make the games interesting, but not as good as the other 4 teams in the league who are apparently very passionate, professional athletes. What was most surprising to me was how much I had missed team sports. It fills a void -- provides a really perfect outlet for exercise and competition and teamwork and goals. I mean, I'm not moving my body unless I have to, and when you want your team to win, you have to move your body. Am I still fouling a lot? Yeah. I am. I become aggressive, despite being a generally nice person, and still don't know my own strength. I'm more comfortable with my body now*, though, so it's fine. Also, the women I get to play with are truly the best, some of the loveliest people I've met in LA. They would look very cool eating nachos.

*...not true.

The Lucille Ballers <3

When I re-injured my knee earlier this summer, my physical therapist (Julius C.) thought I was a college athlete for our first three sessions because of the intensity in which I spoke about basketball and "getting back on the court." My dad is very proud, and will hopefully get a chance to see a game when he visits with my mom in January. Until then, I'll continue to hear him in my head yelling for me to box out and post up. We have a game tonight vs. The Kimmy Dribblers. I'm hopeful.

Unrelated to basketball, I made some really amazing almond sugar cookies this week! These are so, so easy. Don't buy sugar cookies at the store. Don't!! Make these instead, and feel like a champion.

Almond Sugar Cookies


1 stick of soft, unsalted butter (8 tablespoons)
3/4 cup white sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla 
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons boiling water
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
food coloring 


With a standing mixer or hand mixer, blend the softened butter and sugar until it's sort of creamy. I think it helps to intermittently use a spatula to press/cream the butter and sugar together.

The coffee is so I don't add baking soda instead of baking powder.
Add the egg, vanilla, and almond extract. It should get pasty.

So many extracts!

Add the flour in increments, blending in between. 
Add the baking powder and salt.
This dough is pretty sticky and somewhat unwieldy, but don't be afraid to really blend until it's well-mixed.
Eat some of the dough, because the dough is unbelievable, and the raw egg is probably fine. 

Because this is why we bake.

(Fun fact: my mom used to put raw eggs on my cereal when I was a baby because my grandma told her it would help me grow. I am 6 feet tall, so, who knows.)
Cover the bowl in cling wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Dough disc

When you're ready to cook these puppies, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Grease your cookie sheets in whatever fashion you prefer (lately, I've been using vegetable oil and a paper towel and it feels old-fashioned for some reason and I like it).
Flour a clean surface. Flour it again. Flour it so much, because this sticky dough needs it.
Roll out the dough -- because I had a smaller surface, I preferred to roll out just a little bit of dough at a time.

Rollout! (This is a reference to Ludacris, circa 2001)

You'll need to use flour on the dough, on the rolling pin, your hands -- everywhere. Just, like, so much.
If you like fluffier cookies, roll to about 1/2 centimeter thick. If you like crispier cookies, roll it thinner. You do you.
Use a cookie cutter (or a glass rim) to create fun and delightful shapes. I used my Minnesota cookie cutter because it's not a Christmas tree and I love my homeland.
Bake the cookies for about 5-8 minutes, depending on how thick you made them. They will stay the same color -- perhaps brown slightly around the edges. 
Cool the cookies on a wire rack, and when they are completely cooled, eat them all or ice some of them.

And then I ate all of them.

These cookies are fairly sweet (read: delicious) and you definitely do not need to ice them for flavorful fun times. Up to you!
Bring some water to a boil.
Put the sifted powdered sugar in a bowl.
(I didn't sift because I'm lazy, and there were some little powdered sugar blobs in the final product. I have so many regrets.)
Add about 3 tablespoons of just-boiling water to the powdered sugar and mix.
Add food coloring, if you'd like! 

Again, feminist bowl optional.

Once the cookies have cooled, use a spoon to ice them. Hopefully, you will do a better job than I did, as the icing is gloopy and requires an artist's touch. I always fall short on presentation. :(

These cookies are incredibly easy to make and are, frankly, dangerously addicting. This has been the one Sunday when I haven't had leftovers from my baking adventures. The almond extract makes them just a little bit fancier than regular cut-out sugar cookies. I always want the dough to be in my fridge... but at the same time, I don't. I can't. That would be a bad idea, right?

Happy baking!


  1. EMILY - I literally laughed out loud reading this blog post!! The stories about basketball are killing me!!! Also, these sound delicious. Almond extract is the tits.

  2. Hahah thank you so much, Brynn! I'm so happy that these posts make you laugh. :) BAKE THESE COOKIES. I have made them 3 times since this post -- they are my absolute go-to because they are so easy and incredibly tasty.

  3. Where do you FIND those feminist bowls?! I received the red set as a gift, but want to find more. Also, you're hilarious. Thank you :)

  4. Grace! I'm not sure! I WISH I knew, because mine has since broken, just like my heart. :( I feel like these bowls exist in tiny shops in tiny towns where ladies vacation and buy spunky souvenirs. I will keep my eyes peeled. Thank you so much for checking out my blog and for the nice compliment! :)