Something I heard Marcus Samuelsson read aloud from his memoir, “Yes, Chef”, struck a chord with me. He said his first food memory is associated not with a taste but with a smell – his grandmother’s home. I am paraphrasing here – I listened to the audio book and have no print version to confirm his exact words – but that was the gist of it. His memory immediately got me to thinking about my own earliest memories of food.
I remember my aggravation over a canceled pumpkin cookies baking session because my sister decided to be born, but other than that, I can’t place anything prior to kindergarten when we shook small jars of cream (for what seemed like hours) to make homemade butter at our Thanksgiving party.
Unless we count gum in the food family. I loved the flat, yellow packets of tiny multi-colored Chiclets I was allowed to pick out if I was good at the grocery store and the NutraSweet gumballs that came in the mail.
Like Samuelsson, I too have memories of food at my both of my grandparents homes. As a child, I loved eating Breyers vanilla ice cream flecked with the beans, but only when I could eat it with the “tulip spoon”. (As you likely deduced, it was decorated with tulips). I am sure I ate my first poached egg with my grandfather, but only after a lesson on how to do it just right. Tear up a piece of bread, place a dab of butter on top, and then lay the poached egg over the butter to melt.
I would eat those torn up, egg-soaked pieces of bread with their crusts on, but there was no way I was eating bread with crusts with my other grandpa. He threatened bread crusts put hair on your chest, and I was just not down with that. Meanwhile, grandma’s warning that drinking coffee would stunt my growth went unnoticed. To this day, I like my coffee just like she does, with plenty of cream. By the time we are through, our dark brown coffee is lightened to a shade just shy of tan.
A staple snack my other grandmother kept around was dried sugared apricots. She would cut them into strips, probably moisten them with water, and then roll them in sugar so the crystals stuck. I really haven’t had much use for dried apricots any other way until now.
These quick bites are simply a mixture of spiced ground almonds, coconut and dried apricots. I was not all that optimistic with the snack, but I decided to try them out as I was tiring of my other options. Funny how a handful of almonds and apricots does not appeal to my sense of snacking in the least bit, but grounding them up into bite-size bundles does.
I found apricot almond quick bites to be a healthy, filling snack that made the food processing, mixture chilling and ball rolling well worth the effort. I hope you find the same as well. Enjoy!
- 1½ cups almonds
- ½ cup shredded coconut
- 20 dried apricots (roughly ¾ to 1 cup), possibly more
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon cardamon
- ⅛ teaspoon ginger
- Using a food processor, pulse the almonds until they resemble a fairly fine flour.
- Add the coconut and the apricots and continue processing.
- Once the mixture is fully incorporated, add the spices and give it a few more pulses to distribute them evenly.
- The mixture should hold its shape when a bit of it is pressed together, but if not, simply add a few more processed apricots to bind it together.
- Refrigerate the mixture for at least 30 minutes to help it hold its shape.
- Once chilled, form the mixture into small balls of about one tablespoon. The mixture will come together when squeezed and rolled very gently. However, it will fall apart if rolled together like a ball of clay between two palms.
- The quick bites will keep up to a week in the refrigerator of three months in the freezer.