Such a Flake, Martha!- Coconut Macaroons! -273 eggs, 202 3/4 cups of sugar, 203 sticks of Butter, and 253 3/4 cups of flour used so far- 14 recipes to go!

May 31, 2012

Martha’s Coconut Macaroons

André’s Coconut Macaroons

My partner, Dan, and I have a tradition we started a few Christmases ago. (Is he really writing about Christmas on the last day in May?… Yeah- I’m that far behind on my posts. Don’t judge. I’ve been out of town and far away from all the things that make me want to write – and I have no oven!) It started when, on the evening of Christmas, after spending that morning cooking an elaborate brunch for Dan’s family, we decided to go out to eat at one of the only restaurants open on Christmas day. (AKA Chinese) We found one flashing “OPEN” neon sign in Midtown Kansas City and stepped inside where we were delightfully surprised to see our friend, Pam sitting with her entire family. Pam is Jewish and as is the custom among Jews on Christmas day, they headed out for Egg Foo Young and Fried Rice. They opened their table up to join them and Pam’s brother-in-law poured us a series of stiff drinks from one of the multiple bottles of liquor he’d sneaked in from his liquor store across the street. We drank, laughed and celebrated with many smiles and hugs and a great deal of inappropriate humor. We had so much fun that evening, we decided we’d make it our Christmas tradition each year to celebrate the birth of Christ with our Jewish friends over barbecued spareribs and Sweet & Sour Pork.

This past Christmas I wanted to bake them a ‘Thank You’ cookie. Coconut Macaroons are a staple in Jewish households, especially during Pesach. It’s free of the levened-flour-demons (I know very little about Jewish kitchen etiquette)  and are pretty dang delicious, not to mention, easy to make. Flaked coconut is combined with sugar, vanilla and egg white. The mixture is then formed into small haystacks and placed on a silpat-lined cookie sheet and baked at a low temperature until golden. You can add cocoa powder, or in my case, chocolate chips for a little extra zip to these tasty treats. Martha’s recipe happens to yield a ton. I had a surplus, enough to send several bags home with Pam’s family as well as some to share with Dan’s Mom and brother at the customary Christmas morning brunch. Not a typical Christmas cookie, granted, but a delicious and flavorful treat for those hoping to keep Christmas kosher.

I have been more than remiss in posting to this blog. In fact, it’s been well over three months since my last posting. That said, I’ve had a lot on my plate lately other than cookies. This past April 14th, Dan and I joined many of our friends at a New York City restaurant and bar where we were married among familiar smiles and a lot of happy tears.  Yup, we got ourselves one of those new fangled gay marriages everyone on Fox News has been complaining about. It was a wonderful event and an evening that Dan and I will never forget. Planning a distant wedding from a hotel room in Bloomington, Indiana presented some challenges, and I have to admit there is really nothing about preparing for a wedding I enjoyed. When all was said and done, though, it was beautiful. A friend of mine wisely instructed me to take a quiet moment in the middle of the chaos to simply take it all in. The mood, the space, the food, the drinks, the friends we hadn’t seen in years, and all the good will pouring out of everyone’s hearts and into ours were left us speechless.

It all started last year when New York announced they would extend marriage to same-sex couples. Dan and I had always told each other that if the bill passed in a State where we actually knew people then we’d get hitched. We were having drinks with friends at a restaurant and lounge in midtown Kansas City when the announcement was made. The establishment was gay owned and operated and serviced mostly gay or gay-friendly clientele. The mass of people at the bar erupted in loud applause punctuated with squeals of happiness. I looked over at Dan, and without a word, we knew we were, from that moment, engaged.

That’s when the work began… and planning a wedding is Work! (note the capital W)

We each had to choose our best “men”.  Dan has a friend he’s known since second grade name Juli and after nearly a decade estranged, they managed to reconnect at a Wichita class reunion and picked up exactly where they left off as best of friends. She was Dan’s obvious choice. We couldn’t really call her a Maid of Honor, because she is married and “maids” are traditionally not. We really couldn’t call her a “Matron of Honor” because friends don’t call friends “Matrons”. At least, not if they want to remain friends.  We opted instead for the title, “Best Gal.”  It seemed to do the trick. Dan’s Best Gal- Check!

After a little thought, I had an idea. I rang my sister, Nicole to see if she’s be okay with me asking my nephew, Val, to serve as my best man. Val and I had bonded during a recent trip to Orlando where we both became very close. I couldn’t think of a better person to serve as my best man. I’d promised him while we were in Orlando that I’d find a way to take him to New York City when he turned thirteen and now we had the perfect opportunity to make that happen. My sister, of course said yes and Val was thrilled that he’d get to go to NYC for the wedding. My Best Man- Check!

Now we needed a venue. Well, actually we’d need two venues. We wanted to share this moment with our friends in Kansas City, but we didn’t want anyone to feel obligated to make the rather expensive journey to NYC. Instead, we’d have a large reception in Kansas City the week after the wedding in NYC.  Dan and I, both being in our forties, didn’t feel that gifts were appropriate or needed. We did, however, think this would be a good opportunity to raise funds for our favorite charity; the same charity, by the way, that this blog was initially created for.  The chairman of AIDS Walk Kansas City is a delightful and impish fellow who has always greeted me with a smile and a hug. I told him of our plans to direct all wedding gifts to his charity and he mentioned Hotel Phillips as the perfect location for our Kansas City reception as they were a community partner with AIDS Walk-Kansas City. I’d attended a weekend work retreat there as part of some psycho-team-building exercise for work. I thought the tiny art deco boutique hotel was a lovely choice, with its dark wood interiors and brass fixtures.  I arranged to meet with the event planner there to discuss budget and logistics. Reception space in Kansas City- Check!

Now we needed a place to actually get hitched in NYC. I dreaded even looking into this. New York has a reputation for being ridiculously expensive. I knew of a place in midtown called Bill’s Gay 90s. No, it’s not a gay bar. It is a drinking establishment (bar & grill) that’s been functioning as such in the same location since the 1890s.  I loved the dark panel wood walls and the brass fixtures and the old, old carpets and even older wait staff.  The price seemed surprisingly reasonable, too and a verbal agreement was made to have the wedding at Bill’s. Space in New York City- Check!

My friend, Anne, was the first person to start referring to me as a word monkey. She was my business partner and art director for over a year at the office. She’s also a dear friend. I officiated her recent marriage to her husband, Sal. Anne had expressed a desire to create the invitations for the NYC wedding and the Kansas City reception.  By this point I wasn’t going to refuse anything free of charge. Not only that, she would work directly with the printer to make sure it was exactly as it should be. She sent Dan and me a few initial designs and we were blown away. Simply beautiful and so much more personal than what we’d expected. Invitations- Check!

Just before we were to have the invitations printed we ran into a snag. The event space in NYC was not returning my calls. I needed confirmation beyond a verbal agreement. I was becoming frantic and a bit annoyed. Finally, days before I was to have the invitations printed, a representative of the space called me and told me that after functioning as a bar and restaurant for 110 years in the same space in Midtown Manhattan, they were currently embroiled in a landlord dispute and could not honor my request to have my wedding there. Suspicious? Of course. Angry? You bet!

So, I was back to square one. I needed to find a space in NYC that could work with my budget and would have an opening in their schedule. Time to lean on a few friends. Time to end this post and pick it up with part 2.  Look for it soon. (I mean it! I’m getting back into the swing of posting regularly.)

2 Responses to “Such a Flake, Martha!- Coconut Macaroons! -273 eggs, 202 3/4 cups of sugar, 203 sticks of Butter, and 253 3/4 cups of flour used so far- 14 recipes to go!”

  1. Jenny German Says:

    Oh Andre, I am so happy to hear from you again! And of course you leave us hanging by our fingernails w/ your story . I do have a feeling everything is going to end perfectly, tho. So glad to see you back in my email ! Hugs, Jenny

  2. Carol Says:

    I’ve missed your blog, Andre, but GEE you’ve had a few things on your plate. BTW, Duane commented on what a great picture of you and Dan on your thank you note. We’ve been celebrating with you in spirit.

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