Today is our last day in Italy, where we have been for the past week to celebrate our 10 year “anniversary.” As of December 12, my husband and I have been together (not married) for 10 years. This anniversary is more significant to me, because being with the same person for 10 years seems like a pretty big accomplishment these days, especially when our relationship survived our “formative” years, throughout high school and college.
I’m usually embarrassed to tell people that we have been together since we were 14, because it seems like there is something inherently wrong with “high school sweethearts,” a term I despise because it seems cutesy and belittling. If anyone else were to tell me they were “high school sweethearts,” I would probably roll my eyes and be like, “Yeah, let me know when that divorce is finalized.” But it seems different since it’s our story; like somehow we are special and make it work when most other people can’t. My parents have been together since they were 14 or 15, and that’s almost 40 years! So I guess I have a pretty good pair of role models there.
My husband and I were not friends until eighth grade. In seventh grade, I thought he was a nerdy know-it-all (“For my book report, I made a website about the Redwall series.”) and he thought I “cried a lot” because someone threw a book at my head and, yes, I cried. What a baby.
By eighth grade, we discovered our mutual adoration for sarcasm and arrogance and starting chatting on AOL a lot. We got in trouble for disrespecting our math teacher by playing cards in the back of the classroom while she taught material we already knew. We literally thought we were too cool for school (or too smart for that class). My older sister was all, “Is Phillip your boooooyfriend?” and I was like “NO, EWWW GROSS.”
In ninth grade, we discovered we had a mutual friend and started hanging out in groups, going to the movies, getting into 14-year-old mayhem. In early December 2003, I plotted to invite him and a few other notoriously flaky friends to the movies, fully knowing that everyone else would bail at the last minute and Phillip would be stuck alone with me for an evening. It was freezing cold and we just walked around the bookstore and coffee shop until my parents picked us up again, but he fell for my love trap.
A few nights later I got a phone call from Phillip, who said, “I have something to tell you, but I don’t want to, so I’m just going to say it and hang up. IthinkIlikeyou.” Click. I was ecstatic and slightly hysterical, as any 14-year-old girl would be. A week later, we set up a date to the Zoo Lights (where they decorate the zoo with Christmas lights).
We awkwardly wandered through the zoo, making small talk and looking at the few animals that were still viewable in the winter. After emerging from the manatee building, which is known for being one of the most romantic buildings in the zoo, if not the world, we lingered in a wheelchair ramp and Phillip asked me if I wanted to “go out” with him. I agreed that this sounded like a suitable proposal and then proceeded to not kiss him for a month and a half.
That is the extremely abridged and embarrassing history of our early relationship. 10 years ago seems like another lifetime: a lifetime where I thought Good Charlotte was an excellent band and Phillip had braces. I am so happy that we’ve been able to share these last 10 years together and that we are fortunate enough to be able to celebrate in Italy (we are taking a cooking class together today!). I’m sure that we have a lot of new challenges headed our way in the years to come, and I’m looking forward to every minute of it. Enough of this LoveFest. Go make some cookies.
- ½ cup (75 grams) old-fashioned rolled oats
- 1¾ cups (210 grams) all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup (40 grams) cornstarch
- ⅓ cups (45 grams) confectioners' sugar
- ⅓ cup (65 grams) light brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 14 tablespoons (198 grams) unsalted butter, thinly sliced and chilled
- Smoked sea salt, for sprinkling
- Preheat oven to 450°F and set the oven rack in the center of the oven.
- In the bowl of a food processor, grind the oats into a fine powder. Add flour, cornstarch, confectioners' sugar, brown sugar, and salt to the food processor and pulse until combined. Pour combined dry ingredients into the bowl of a stand mixer and add butter slices. Mix on low speed for 5-10 minutes until the dough starts to come together.
- Place a 9-inch springform pan with the bottom removed upside down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a Silpat mat. Press the dough into the springform ring and smooth the top with a rubber spatula. Cut out a circle (or heart) from the center using a metal cookie cutter. Take out the dough shape you cut out and place it on the baking sheet outside the ring. Put the cookie cutter back in the hole, so that the dough doesn't spread into the center. Open the latch on the springform pan to give the dough some room to spread, but leave it in place so you have a perfect circle. Lightly sprinkle the top of the dough with smoked sea salt.
- Bake at 450° for 5 minutes, then reduce the heat to 250°F and bake for another 10-15 minutes, until the edges turn slightly golden. Remove from the oven and turn it off. Take off the springform ring and score the surface with a knife to create 16 wedges (don't cut all the way through). Poke holes into each wedge using a toothpick, then return the baking sheet to the turned-off oven. Prop the oven door open with a wooden spoon and allow the shortbread to dry for about 1 hour.
- Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely, then cut shortbread wedges on their score lines, break apart, and serve.