Stars are fascinating objects to study. When I think about the vastness of the universe, the sheer number of planets and matter in it and about how many events are taking place within it at any given time – new stars being born, while others disintegrate – and the distance between me and the moon, I can get lost in thought for hours. I then feel so tiny. And so irrelevant. And so lonely. Like a tiny flicker. I just got here, and, unfortunately, can’t stay. Goodbye, goodbye. That’s life in a nutshell.
Growing up, I was often separated from my father who was away on business for shorter and longer stretches of time, from my grandparents who were going about their respective lives in opposite parts of the world, from friends who either had moved to distant countries or whom I had left in favor of a new adventure. It was hard to be separated from people that I cared about. There was always a small painful feeling lurking inside me, the knowledge that I would never be able to have everyone together in one room at once, happily chatting away with each other and lifting the compartments that were artificially created during different eras of my life. I wished for the idealized version of a village that we say it takes to raise a child and a community of those who had met me, but never each other.
And as sad as I sometimes was about lacking someone’s presence on occasion, there was always the night and looking at the stars, and knowing that, regardless of where my loved ones were, they could also glance upwards and see the same things: the dark eternal nothingness, the ever-changing image of the moon and the joyous sparkle of the stars. I would suddenly feel much more connected. Distance is, after all, relative and things are within reach, if you want. I took great comfort from this state of mind.
Today, we have all the possibilities that come with mobile phones, computers and the internet, the distance between the continents has gotten close. And still, it will never be adequate replacement. So sometimes, I still glance up at the night ceiling in search of a feeling of community. When you live in Germany, and in a city with lots of light pollution, you rarely get to see a starry sky. The clouds cover up the ceiling in a grey blanket and on days with a clear view you only see tiny fragments, the buildings do the rest and block your view from everything that lies beyond ninety degrees.
So, what to do?
That’s right. You bake your own stars.
225g almonds (whole, but you can also purchase almond meal if you have no option for grinding the almonds yourself)
1 package vanilla essence
1 lemon peel (grated)
1 egg white (the egg I used was large)
40g chopped pistachios
powdered sugar (for sprinkling)
Grind the almonds in your handheld blender (or kitchen machine or mill or what have you).
Line a baking tin with baking parchment. Turn on your oven and heat it to 130°C.
Then, with the help of a plastic bag cut in half or plastic foil and a rolling pin, roll out the dough (I suggest to do this in three or four separate batches) until it is about a centimeter thick. Cut out star-shaped cookies with the help of your cookie cutter and place onto baking parchment. Repeat with the rest of the dough.
Place cookies into oven for about quarter of an hour (they should be lightly brown at the edges). Remove from oven and let cool off entirely (I suggest you do this outside, if the architecture of your home permits). Sprinkle cookies with powdered sugar. You can keep these cookies for about two to three weeks in a sealed cookie tin.