My friend Jon can make me laugh for an hour straight if he does his impression of a southie for me. Not many people can accurately imitate a Boston accent, and since I grew up thirty-five miles south of the city, I have a good ear for it and can tell when someone is off. Jon is nearly pitch perfect. And it’s hilarious.
But I think I love hearing his southern accents even more. He grew up there and can demonstrate several different drawls from around where he lived. The best is when he breaks into telling me about his first job scooping ice cream at Baskin Robbins. Butter Pecan was pretty much the only flavor anyone ever ordered—the other thirty flavors were just there for show.
I am happy to report, that this dish was a big hit with every person in my family. And that is saying something, especially seeing that it is raw, vegan, and has only three tablespoons of sweetener in the entire recipe.
Awhile back, I wrote a post, raving about chia seeds, highlighting their health benefits, and the way we eat them. Since then, I’ve seen quite a handful of recipes for chia seed pudding around the web and in Martha Stewart Living. If anyone can create a decent dessert using only healthy ingredients, I’m sold. I had been wanting to try out a recipe on my own for ages, and last week, I finally did. It was a huge, huge hit.
When I was sick and wanted to die with my first pregnancy, I used to lie on the couch for hours (holding an empty bucket that was newly washed out and smelled like Pine Sol), and watch lame television shows to pass the time. The Rosie O’Donnell show wasn’t lame though. That was the best part of my day. And certainly better than puking.
She used to be in love with those giant caramel apples from Williams Sonoma, and ever since then, I’ve always wanted to try one. Sometimes you have to just take the plunge and spend over $20 on a good treat, but in the last 13 years since hearing about them, I never have. When the kids asked me to make caramel apples for them the other day, I thought I’d take a whack at something resembling the ones at Williams Sonoma. They were the perfect thing to celebrate the arrival of fall.
Wow, I may have just broken a record. I have made bake sale week last nearly a full two weeks this year. I just ran out of days faster than I could bake cookies, apparently. Time has been going by so fast lately. In fact, my kids called me from school last Friday, reminding me to come get them because it was early out, and I was late. I never even realized it was Friday until they had called. Anyway, here I am, with one last recipe.
My favorite brownies showed up in 2008. They use an entire bag of chocolate chips, and are the easiest thing in the world to make.
But sometimes, you just don’t have a bag of chocolate chips in the pantry. You may have thought you did, but when you go to find it to make the brownies you have just set your heart on, you may discover it has been nibbled down to about a half a cup’s worth by your sugar-addicted-nine-year-old (not that I would have any personal experience with that).
That is what some would call a chocolate emergency.
I told you about these beer and bacon pecan bars by the Beeroness on facebook last week. Since I don’t drink beer for religious reasons, but since I couldn’t stop thinking about these amazing cookies, I decided the only thing I could do was make my own.
It was important to uphold the complexity of flavor that the stout in her recipe provided though, so I opted to make the entire recipe with pure maple syrup, and not use brown sugar or corn syrup.
Now, I’m not gonna lie to you—these things ain’t cheap. By the time I finished buying all the ingredients for these—Niman Ranch bacon, pure maple syrup, maple sugar, and pecan halves—I had spent at least $20. So, you might want to bring those marshmallows to your bake sale or even those s’mores bars, and keep the maple bacon bars for yourselves.
I asked my friend what I should include in bake sale week, and he suggested I do something healthy, with cranberries.
Now, the term healthy has come to have as many meanings as there are Birkenstocks in a natural foods store. For some people, whole wheat isn’t particularly healthy, while for others, anything without hydrogenated oil is hailed as a model of virtuous cuisine. The other day, I saw a bag of gummy bears with a sticker on it that said “Healthy!” Apparently, they didn’t didn’t have any high fructose corn syrup in them, which I guess . . . makes them healthy?
It’s two days after Labor Day, and about time I got up my first bake sale week post, wouldn’t you say? Before I go diving into the fall, I just want to say a few words about summer.
With two moves, a crazy diet, a month of running every day, and a sad attempt at online dating, I’m not gonna lie to you: I’m glad it’s over. I’d like to get back to a the semblance of a normal life. But I can’t say goodbye to this season without first acknowledging my deep appreciation to the gods of summer fashion who decided beach hair should be the “in” thing this year.
I have waited thirty-six years for my hair in its natural state to be the mode, and finally, this year, it was. And so was my daughter’s. We enjoyed several months of no blow-drying, and letting our hair do its thing.
School started last Wednesday. I bought my kids each a pair of Converse All-Stars, mostly as a bribe so my younger two wouldn’t complain about the uniforms this year, and also in a gesture of celebration. I loved going back to school when I was little, and I wanted the new shoes to help them get excited, too. The first day of school is, after all, the best day of the year, and they should get to be at least half as thrilled as I am.
After we had our breakfast of Peach and Raspberry French Toast (the recipe will be in the cookbook next year), took pictures on the front porch, and I dropped them off at school, I called my mom. I heaved a they’re-finally-back-in-school sigh. She gave me an empathetic cheer, and then reminded me she always used to spend the first day of school crying.
She back-tracked of course, telling me I have it harder (I’m a single mom), and I have a crazier life (I work), yadda, yadda, yadda. Whatever, she was just a better mom. I know it.
Despite my mom’s reluctance to have us back in school, she always made an effort to make the back to school time a happy transition, whether it was spending more money than she could afford on new clothes so we would fit in with our classmates, or setting up a homework table after school with mini Snickers and Milky Way bars as rewards for getting our work done.
I didn’t taste one bit of this, but I hear it was lovely.
You see, I started this new diet. And sugar for right now . . . well it’s a nice thought, but that’s all it is.
My daughter and I made this on Sunday afternoon. Sunday afternoons are usually our time for making candy. I wouldn’t recommend making toffee in the dead of summer normally, but all we had was some butter and sugar in the house, with just some little odds and ends of whatever we had in the cupboards, so toffee it was!
Lurking in our pantry was a bag of cacao nibs, and in our fridge, a big bag of almond flour. We spread out the almond flour in the bottom of our baking sheet, and then got the cacao nibs for sprinkling on top. Cacao nibs, by the way, are my new favorite thing to eat with peanut butter. My usual sneak snack is a spoonful of peanut butter dipped in chocolate chips, but I recently switched to the same treat only without sugar. Instead, I take a spoonful of all natural peanut butter (Adam’s is my favorite brand), and dip it in cacao nibs. Oh, and sometimes I eat that with a banana! I tell you, it is the most wonderful snack in the whole wide world!!
But back to the toffee . . .
Since last year, when I posted my all natural red velvet cake, which I made without red food dye, dozens of people have tried my recipe. For some, it worked well, and for some, it did not. Making a cake is hard enough without the addition of carefully balancing the pH levels, and it seemed everything affected the outcome of the color, whether it was the type of flour used, the type of cocoa, fineness of the ground beets, and on and on and on. People in Europe, for some reason, had the most difficult time with it, and I have yet to hear of a reader across the Atlantic who got a red cake at the end of it.