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Been missing

It began with sunlight and ended up with shortbread.

Most mornings, the front room of our house is quiet. As a family we prefer to cluster around the kitchen in those first minutes of the day, in sock feet and pajamas, mulling around the coffee maker and the kitchen table. 

The other day I was drawn out of that comforting circle of domesticity by the wayward ramblings of our youngest, whose well-loved train set resides in the room closest to the front of our home. And upon our arrival to that room, it was evident I had been missing out.

The leaves on our trees are only coming into their foliage now; they're still a tangle of branch and lacy beginnings of leaf. The first light of the morning isn't blocked, but delicately filtered through this doily of green, shining golden against the wall opposite our windows - on now on that wall, three projected rectangles that flickered with the shadows of a thousand butterflies.

Later that same day, we were in the backyard when our eldest implored me to look up - something adults often forget to do, but children seem to do all the time - he was pointing out the white chalk line of an airplane as it travelled across the sky. If you face the sun like that, even through trees, your cheeks grow warm and when you close your eyes it's like you're looking at fireworks through a kaleidoscope.

Maybe it was all this time staring at the sun, but that day I was seeing the world through dandelion-coloured glasses. So when it came to an afternoon snack, shortbread fit the bill. Weeks ago, Shari had talked about a version she'd tried that was speckled with rosemary. I'd bookmarked a promising recipe from Gourmet that same day, but not gotten around to trying it yet.

And oh boy, was I missing out when it comes to shortbread, too.

Pale yellow from generous quantities of butter and a of squeeze ochre-hued honey, this is a cookie that yields to the tooth but lingers on the tongue. They look comparatively plain, slightly sandy and crumbly at their edge and with the only the suggestion of a puff at their centres. But never mind their looks, the simplest of shortbreads are often the best in my books.

To make these is to make most biscuity cookies, sugar and butter are creamed with the honey, then dry ingredients are added to that. It's not a dough that likes to be bothered; as soon as all the flour is dampened by the fat, it's all tipped out onto a board and kneaded together. Pat it gently into your desired shapes, dust them with sugar, then off to the oven for baking. 

They are fine and sweet and a little bit savoury with flakes of salt and that resiney, piney taste of rosemary that pairs so well with honey. I think some lemon zest might be a possibility to explore, but only out of curiosity and not necessity, as they are not in any way in want of improvement.

As far as I can tell, it is the cookie for a spring afternoon. One full of sunshine, if that can be arranged.


Honeyed Rosemary Shortbread

Recipe from Gourmet magazine, via Epicurious.


  • The recipe specifies a mild honey, however I used a more robust variety which resulted in a pronounced, honeyed flavour to the baked cookie.
  • I only had enough fresh rosemary on hand to amount to 2 chopped teaspoons rather than the required 1 tablespoon. I found the lesser quantity suited my taste.
  • For added texture and a satisfying salinity, I used sea salt.


* * * * * * * 

Today is the proper 5th anniversary of this site, although I did mention it a few days ago. In looking back through my archives it came to my attention that the comments from the first year or so of posts have not transferred with the redesign. (It broke my heart a little, I won't lie.)

I'm working on re-establishing those words, but in the interim, I wanted to say thanks. Really, I don't have a way to fully convey my gratitude - to all of you who have read, for all of you who wrote back then and who write now. My old stories seem so lonely without your presence, and it illustrates what makes this site mean so much to me. The conversation, that's the thing. And without you, it's gone. So, again, five years on, thank you.

Reader Comments (35)

oh I love your china pattern. and shortbread. and this site! congratulations on five years--wow!

May 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNishta

Shortbread always bring back fond memories of England for me..yours look very delicious! Congrats on reaching 5 years =)

May 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKitty

I lost some of my comments when I moved my blog, too! Oh, blogger. :( But at least you have them in your email?

Very interested in this shortbread. The recipe is really different from the kind I made a few weeks ago, so I may need to try this today!

May 1, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterkate

Always the right words with the right image to punctuate them, Tara. One other thing that adults don't do, but we all did as kids, which I just noticed because of the baby is swinging legs when sitting in a chair. Unfortunately, as an adult the chairs are made for us so there usually isn't room to swing one's legs. But it's something I'd like to do again sometimes. Happy blog anniversary.

May 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterHilda

What a gorgeous blog you have! (I just found it via tastespotting). Wonderful writing, great photos, and who doesn't like a good shortbread? Love the flavor combination, it'll be next on my list!

May 1, 2010 | Unregistered Commentersiri

Happy 5 years! This blog is just gorgeous. The writing, photos, and food are impeccable.

I love that these cookies are a mix of savory and sweet. They definitely have that WOW factor going on with the rosemary.

May 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJoanne

Oh yes, rosemary in sweets. My late-night home still smells of the rosemary-orange biscotti I made in triplicate this afternoon. There's magic in those needles, made sweet. I can only imagine they light up a shortbread biscuit.

May 1, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermolly

I love trying different shortbread recipes but never tried one with rosemary and honey! Will give this one a try!

May 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBeth

Lovely post (as always I must say).
Happy 5 years !!!

May 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDana

Congratualtions on five years! I've only just started, and five years seems like an important milestone. Very important!
Shortbread, yummm. Will have to make some soon.

May 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMillys Mini Kitchen

i don't know what i like more tara, your photos, words or recipes. all beautiful.

May 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCannelle Et Vanille

thank you Nishta, that set belonged to my great aunt. i'm rather fond of it, too.

thank you Kitty!

Kate, I'm telling you, blogger caused me to curse more than I'd like to admit. I believe I have all the comments, but sad to see them gone from here. They were some good chats!

Hilda, that's a good one! When we go to the playground, I often take a turn on the swings - I can't help it. Such fun. And thank you for the sweetness.

nice to meet you, siri! thank you for the visit.

Thank you Joanne, I think these could pair nicely with a berry ice cream in the summer - definitely memorable.

your biscotti sounds brilliant, molly!

I hope you enjoy it Beth! I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Thanks so much, Dana!

Best of luck in starting out, Milly. And all the best for your site!

aran, i could say the same right back at you, friend. you're the likeable sort.

May 2, 2010 | Registered Commentertara o'brady

Five years - what an accomplishment! This recipe looks simple and lovely, just like your blog.

May 2, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterliz

How wonderful...... Happy Anniversary and Congratulations! I only started reading your blog a few months ago and I have to tell you, Tara, that it really brightens my day. I love your beautiful photos and especially love your writing. My favourite was the post about snow shoveling. Your words completely described how happy I feel in the snow and the lovely feeling of achievement afterwards. Thank you!

May 3, 2010 | Unregistered Commenternelli

sock feet boys with keen eyes, love.

May 3, 2010 | Unregistered Commenternikole

Wonderful post and beautiful pictures. I can't wait to have a family of my own to have those special moments.

May 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLauren Z

where is the recipe?

May 4, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterjinksunk

Yes, link to recipe not working. I have a new bottle of Glacier County Honey and a huge rosemary bush in my front yard so I want to give this a try.

May 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBess


The link is working for me (the word "recipe" is where you click), but I'm so sorry for any inconvenience. Here's the direct link:

Thank you all for the kind words and wishes.

May 5, 2010 | Registered Commentertara o'brady

I love your blog!! and yours pictures

May 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLinda Susan

Simple adorable tea cup! I love the colors.
And I have always been fond of herbal flavors in sweets. The shortbread cookies look divine.

Congratulations on five years!!

(For some reason, your site refuses to accept my blog address. So I finally removed it! It's

May 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBarbara

Dandelion glasses - I love you. I adore rosemary shortbread - last Christmas it was my new favourite - it hadn't occurred to me to pull out the recipe in springtime. Of course today Calgary is covered with snow, so I really have no excuse...

I'm currently clearing space in my freezer to make your Vietnamese Coffee Ice Cream - the recipe you contributed to Blog Aid. I CAN'T WAIT.

May 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJulie

can't wait to try these. happy 5 years! so glad you are here cooking, writing, and photographing. one of my very favorite places on the web. xo

May 6, 2010 | Unregistered Commentershari

Hi, Tara. Completely coincidental to your fifth blog-iversary (congrats!), I am giving you a Sunshine Award, as I really enjoy your site. Please visit to read what I wrote about you and your lovely blog.



May 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterIslandEAT

Your site is always such a lovely place to stop in, check out the beautiful images, read some sweet words and pick up a delicious recipe to try... Happy, happy 5 years!

May 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJulie

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