The master shower is broken. One of the garage doors does not work properly. The heater needs repair. It’s almost amusing how the appliances seem to know that the superintendent has been away and they can misbehave. The kitchen floor is scummy. The formal (or former) dining table is piled with opened and unopened mails… None of this matters. I am finally home. Nothing is better than being home.
It’s intensely gratifying and almost a bit shocking to be able to touch the warm bodies of my loved ones after seeing them only on my cell screen for the past months. Audrey, who was an inch shorter than me when I left for Malaysia, shot up and is now taller than me. I am officially the shortest person in the house. When I was away, I clung to the comforting memory of my family — the one constant in my life. But even the most familiar and constant is ever changing. What I have missed in their lives will remain missing. I think humans possess imagination because we need to conjure up the missing pages in our lives — be it past or future.
Angela was writing her English paper today — a fictional piece based on real history. Over hot chocolate and blondies, we talked for hours about my upbringing in Shanghai and how the Cultural Revolution impacted my family and my peers. Her interest in my previous life — one that seems to have little to do with who I am today, but is in fact the most integral part of my character — was moving to me.
Before returning to San Francisco, I went to Shanghai to visit my parents for a week. Being a mother myself, I understand much more viscerally how they must have missed my brother and me when they were sent down to the countryside for “re-education” during the Cultural Revolution. How they must have worried sick about our well being. I was 8 and my brother was 10. We had the use of their salary and decided to subsist mostly on red bean popsicles. Other than popsicles, we had rice. There were two pots of scallions on the window sill and we always ate our rice mixed with a little soy sauce, lard and chopped scallion. Though it was only for a few months that both my parents were away, it felt like forever to me. I was the happiest little girl when my mother finally came home. She surprised me with two colorful pullovers with checkered pattern in the front. A book worm and a pure intellectual all her life, she has been inept in doing anything domestic except for knitting those two beautiful sweaters for me in the dim light of an oil lamp in the re-education camp.
Now, a little about these delicious blondies — they are vegan, gluten free and pretty easy to whip up. High in dietary fiber and low in simple carbs, they are guilt free to indulge.
Healthy Coconut Macadamia Blondies
1 15.5 oz can white beans, washed and drained
1/4 cup almond flour
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup roasted macadamia nuts
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Blend all ingredients except for shredded coconut and macadamia nuts in a food processor until smooth. Mix in shredded coconut by hand. Pour mixture into a greased 8×8 baking pan. Add macadamia nuts. Bake for 30 minutes. They are a little crumbly, so make sure you let them cool completely before handling.