Life is never simple, is it? We go through ups and downs and everything in between. Sometimes when we least expect it, something so big will happen that it changes our life course forever – for better or for worse.
As I mentioned earlier this week, my mom sold the house I grew up in and it closed today. But what I didn’t mention was the tsunami like waves of emotions that would hit my mother and I as if we were little people in someone’s snow globe and they were shaking it furiously.
My mom and dad came to this country with nothing and raised 6 children under the poverty line. The only thing of value they ever owned was a home in Seattle, which is the only home my mom has ever owned and lived, that is before she came to live with us after Dad died. For the last seven days my mom has been over there sitting in it alone, and I know she’s been grieving. When she walks through our front door, I always ask her whether or not she is okay. With a valiant effort to conceal her true emotions she tells me she is okay in a way that sounds to me like she’s in denial.
Growing up 2nd generation in the era I did, I essentially lived in two worlds. I lived in the ‘old country’ culture with its own set of rules and values as well as the ‘new American’ culture, which often conflicts with the former. I had to learn to balance both. Respecting and honoring your elders was a top priority (as it still is today) – even when it means submitting to an ideology you don’t agree with. I also appreciated the sacrifices my parents made in order for their children to have a better life.
I view taking care of my mother very seriously. I look after her like a mama bear cares and protects her child. I try to make her breakfast each morning along with a hot cup of coffee. I check her bedroom almost daily when the weather is cold outside to make sure she’s warm enough. I encourage her to spend time enjoying her favorite hobbies now that she has time to. For her this means learning how to make certain types of Korean foods or cook a few recipes I have taught her. The no-knead bread recipe on this site is her favorite.
Every time I think about my mom’s current pain I start to well up with tears. I’ll distract myself with something because I don’t like to cry. So all this week I’ve been occupying myself with baking projects as a coping mechanism. Self-therapy in the form of baking has its advantages and disadvantages. On one hand, I don’t remember pushing myself so much like I have this week. I have given much thought to the science of baking and have attempted different methods of baking. The creative-inventor part of me thinks of an idea and cannot let it go until I know if it is possible or not.
Today I have a Coconut Macaroon recipe I am in love with. This recipe idea was inspired by my mom. Yesterday she spent one last day at the house and came home with some clippings from the grapevines that my dad planted when I was a baby. The vines now hang on about 400 feet of fence. Not knowing how to start a new plant from her clippings, I set up her with my laptop to watch YouTube videos on how to do this sort of thing because this was going to be the project she wanted to take on today.
I walked away from that our conversation as quick as I could to compose myself because I could feel a big lump in my throat and my eyes starting to water. I decided that today was a, “I’m going to comfort myself” type of day… a macaroons type of day.
So today’s baking therapy session are these macaroons. I’ve always been a coconut fanatic. As much as I love the chewy milky macaroons made with sweetened shredded coconut with condensed milk, these are not the macaroons I made. Instead, I baked the more delicate type of macaroons made with desiccated unsweetened coconut which is dry and fragile, like I was today. As I thought about the texture, the idea for the method occurred to me. I would make a macaroon similar to the method of making the sweetened coconut version. My only concern was the macaroon falling apart if I bit into it.
After a few failed attempts I came up with a method of boiling water, sugar, and Asian coconut milk. By cooking these ingredients together they make a thick syrup so the desiccated coconut is held together considerably more than it would be if I had just added sugar to egg whites. Adding a little bit of coconut milk also gives it more rich coconut flavor and a beautiful bright white filling. I could have left the macaroon alone at this point but I couldn’t because that’s not how I do things. I needed to add a touch of ‘specialness’ to these beautiful mounds of coconut bliss. After I topped them off with a little drizzle of dark chocolate and a few small flecks of Fleur de Sel (sea salt) they were perfect. They had a thin crunchy coconut shell on the outside and a tender and delicate mound of sweetened coconut on the inside.
As I contemplate everything happening right now, I take great joy in knowing my grieving process is not in vain. And at the very least, I am very happy to be able to share a delicious treat with you. Hope you enjoy these macaroons as much as Mom and I did.
- ½ cup sugar
- ¼ cup water
- ¼ cup Asian coconut milk (full fat version)
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 cups unsweetened desiccated coconut
- 1 egg white (approx. 3 tablespoons)
- ¼ cup dark chocolate chips
- ½ teaspoon Fleur de Sel
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a non-stick pan, heat the sugar, water, coconut milk, and salt on medium heat.
- Allow the mixture to come to a medium simmer and cook for 5 minutes. The mixture should look white and bubbly and be slightly less thick than maple syrup but more than than water.
- Add 1½ cups of coconut to a medium mixing bowl. Stir in the warm sugar coconut water and stir the coconut.
- Stir in the egg white followed by the remaining coconut until well mixed.
- Using a small cookie scoop, firmly pack the scoop with the coconut mixture and place on a baking sheet lined with a silicon mat or parchment paper.
- Place unbaked macaroons 2 inches apart from one another.
- Bake for 15 minutes until the outside shell is crispy to the touch and the tips of a nice light golden brown.
- Remove the sheet from the oven and allow the macaroons to cool on the sheet for 30 minutes.
- White the macaroons are cooling, melt the chocolate chips in the microwave for 30 seconds. Stir the chips and if needed, microwave again for 15 seconds.
- Drizzle the chocolate over the macaroons and top each one off with a few flecks of Fleur de Sel.
- Allow the macaroons to completely cool before serving.