A day in the life

My January 7 declaration that I would turn cakes and priorities upside down in 2012 turned out to be more prescient than anticipated.

Our visas for France were still in limbo at the time, so blogging—or rather, blogging more—was top of mind. I was envisioning relatively minor adjustments: more experimenting in the kitchen, less succumbing to the black hole that is the Internet. That was the plan, but the second the French consulate gave its stamp of approval, things went topsy turvy quickly.

A February trip to Ontario became a working vacation, a family farewell and our last stop before France. Now that we've found a flat in Paris, rearranged all of the furniture and finally finished painting...

(Let's pause for a public service announcement: Don't smoke, kids. The previous tenant was a smoker and if your lungs look half as bad as our walls did when we moved in, you're in trouble.)

...we've settled into a routine. Well, as much of a routine as you could expect from two freelancers. It's an awesome one that I'm almost afraid to share for fear that the universe will smite me or, at the very least, you'll end up hating me. Worst case: both.

Basically, take the average person's workday and turn it on its head. Are you starting to see a theme here?

An average day in the Paris life of Starbott

9:30: Roll out of bed, with or without an alarm clock. The kid thumping around the apartment above will probably wake you up anyway. Consider showering, but opt to make breakfast in your pajamas instead.

9:42: Hot coffee.

9:45: Hot breakfast.

10:00: Make a plan for the day, then set the wheels in motion.

10:00-16:00: Alienate your North American readers (so basically all of them) by using the 24-hour clock. Execute said plan, which will include some combination of markets, parks, museums, cafés and window shopping. Total distance covered on foot: 6-12 kilometres. Total pastries consumed: 2.

16:00-16:30: In this order: Franprix for packaged things, the boulangerie for une tradition, the produce stand for fruits and vegetables (unless it was a market day), the fromagerie for (you guessed it) fromage.

16:30: Home. Fire up the computer. Think about working.

17:00-20:30: Get down to brass tacks.

20:30-21:30: Dinner.

21:30-0:00: Work. Or make tahini shortbread.

0:00-2:00: Whatevs.

Tahini Shortbread
115 grams salted butter
100 grams white sugar
120 grams tahini, well-stirred
25 grams honey
170 grams flour
pinch of sea salt

100-150 grams semi-sweet chocolate for dipping/drizzling (optional)

In a medium bowl, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in the tahini and honey, mixing until the batter is smooth. Add the flour and sea salt, mixing until a dough begins to take shape. Form the dough into a rough disc and then tightly wrap it in plastic wrap. Chill until firm (at least 1 hour).

Preheat your oven to 175 degrees Celsius (350 degrees Fahrenheit) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Break off small chunks of the chilled dough and roll them into 1-inch balls. The cookies won't spread much, so you can place them quite close together.

Bake until the cookies are lightly golden on the bottom and barely coloured on top (12-15 minutes). Cool them on the baking sheet for 10 minutes before moving them to a rack to cool completely.

Once the cookies are cool, get drizzling! Roughly chop the semi-sweet chocolate, then melt it slowly in a double boiler over barely simmering water. Dip each cookie partway in the melted chocolate or drizzle/pipe chocolate ribbons on top. Return the decorated cookies to a cooling rack until the chocolate sets.

Notes: These cookies are equally delicious with or without the chocolate. If you choose to go chocolate-less, you might try rolling the uncooked balls of dough in coarse sugar before baking.

Source: A variation on Gilded Sesame Cookies at Epicurious.com, originally published in Gourmet, December 2006.