Archive for the ‘Food & Recipes’ Category.

Cookies Make It All Better

What is it about cookies? Cookies, cookies, cookies. We love them so.

I’ve been massaging a new cookie recipe for a few months, attempting to create a really yummy vegetarian chocolate chip cookie. As usual, none of the recipes I found in my books or online were quite what I was looking for. I wanted to eliminate butter and eggs and refined sugar, as well as white flour.

Wait, what? There is nothing left, you say?! Oh ho! I say not so fast, Cookie Monster (c’mon, you know you are). Observe:

Holly’s Vegetarian Chocolate Chippers


Egg replacer:

  • 3 Tbsp finely ground flax seeds
  • 4 Tbsp water


  • 2 c. whole wheat flour
  • ¼ c. vital wheat gluten
  • 1 c. finely grated coconut
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt


  • ½ c. corn oil
  • ½ c. honey
  • ¼ c. pure maple syrup
  • ¼ c. dark molasses
  • ¼ c. Florida Crystals natural sugar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract


  • 1 package Sunspire grain-sweetened chocolate chips
  • ½ c. chopped nuts of your choice (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly oil two large cookie sheets.

2. Place flax seeds and water in a small bowl and mix thoroughly. Set aside.

3. In a medium sized bowl, stir together dry ingredients. Set aside.

4. In a large bowl, stir together wet ingredients and the flax seed mixture.

5. Add half the dry ingredients at a time to the wet mixture and blend till just combined.

6. Fold in chocolate chips and nuts or other goodies (if using).

7. Scoop 2 Tbsp portions onto a cookie sheet. The cookies will spread some. Try to keep the chips in toward the center of the dough so the chocolate doesn’t scorch.

8. Bake 15-18 minutes, till desired doneness. Longer baking time will result in crispier edges, but be careful not to over bake. Let the cookies cool for 5 minutes before removing from the cookie sheet.

9. Cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

Makes: 24 cookies


These babies are chewy and yummerific enough to totally satisfy the cookie monster in anyone, so give this recipe a try. Heck, you may want to try it over and over over. Because perfecting a recipe is an excellent excuse to bake a lot of cookies. You know, in the name of science.

Bonus: Eating this dough raw is perfectly safe, since there are no raw eggs to worry about. Just don’t eat *too* much, or you might get a tummy ache anyway!

No Meat No Mo’

“If you gave me a million, zillion dollars and said give me a plant that doesn’t have E. coli, I couldn’t do it,” said Michael T. Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. “It’s not about the will. It’s about the ability.”

The quote above from this New York Times article (user account may be required), illustrates just one of the reasons for my shift away from a meat-centric diet. Mr. Osterholm is referring to the difficulty of preventing disease from entering the beef production system due to the bacteria-ridden, utterly icky process of high volume, factory farm butchery. Even if I didn’t get the shivers over the cruelty of factory farming, the yuck factor regarding the mud and poop that can’t help but be part of the process would scare me off steak anyway.

I’ve eliminated all beef and chicken, and nearly all dairy, from my diet. I have eaten an eensy bit of shrimp, halibut, and salmon in the last month or two, although I’m sticking almost entirely to fruits, nuts, vegetables, grains, and legumes. This evening for dinner, for example, I made a lovely green salad with nuts and dried fruits, steamed baby peas, and sweet potatoes with vegan buttery spread (Earth Balance — so awesomely deelish, non-GMO, and organic). I don’t miss cow one bit.

Veggie BrainI’ve read that the amount of plant energy and water required to raise a cow is many times that required to sustain me directly. I like knowing that by choosing a vegetarian diet I’m consuming substantially less resources. Once raised, the cow of course then has to be butchered and shipped to me, consuming still more resources, including fossil fuels. And ultimately, the end product may be contaminated with poop! Ay carumba.

I adore animals and have enjoyed my friendships with a wide variety of pets including horses, rabbits, dogs, cats, turkeys, chickens, sheep, doves, pigeons, and goldfish. Although I’ve never owned a cow or a pig, I got to hang around those species as well through friends and as part of 4-H activities and fairs and such. I enjoyed them all. As a kid, a friend and I once scared the pants off our parents by running away from home because we were mad about my friend’s cow being butchered. My family dabbled in raising chickens, turkeys, and rabbits for meat. I ate the meat, and remember feeling unsettled and weird about it, aside from the unpleasantness of the butchering process itself.

When I think of the animal that a piece of meat came from, I really have no desire to eat it. It’s important to me to make conscious decisions in my life, and I think I’ve just been choosing to remain unconscious about eating meat. I don’t envision myself as militant about it, just more in touch with my own compassion for other creatures and my concern for making choices that result in a decreased environmental impact.

And back to the poop thing, I’m struck by how industrial farming encourages disease. Consider this excerpt from the Vegetarianism article on Wikipedia:

In 2003, an article in the Journal of Dairy Science found that between 30 and 80 percent of cattle carry E. coli O157:H7.[47] In that same journal article, a quick fix was pointed out: Cows that are switched from a grain diet to a forage diet saw, within 5 days, a 1,000 fold decrease in the abundance of strain O157. But until changes like this are made, the source of many E. coli outbreaks will continue to be high-yield (industrial) meat and dairy farms.[48]

More likely, rather than change the way cattle are fed or raised on industrial farms there will instead be pressure to find technological solutions like food irradiation, plans for HACCP, or simply cooking burgers longer. Suggestions like this have led some experts, like Professor of Science and Environmental Journalism at UC Berkeley, Michael Pollan, to suggest that “All of these solutions treat E. coli O157:H7 as an unavoidable fact of life rather than what it is: a fact of industrial agriculture.”[49]

So, the meat industry apparently recognizes that, as part of the industrial model of production, poop happens–especially when frightened animals face horrific death and in some cases torture. Allowing animals to forage isn’t profitable, so hey, how about irradiating meat? Just get over it and cook my meat longer? Yikes.

How about instead I just say, “No meat no mo’!”



Local is the New Organic

This article caught my attention, as have several similar articles lately, regarding how we shop for food in our country and what it means to our health, environment, and culture, specifically around the practice of seeking out and eating local food products.

yummyA strategy of choosing locally produced food strikes me as a sensible and fun way to improve my health and reduce my environmental footprint. If a product only has to travel a couple of hours from the farm to my table, rather than days or weeks on planes, trains, and automobiles, then less fuel and resources will be consumed in bringing my meal to me. My food will be fresher and likely yummier. I’m enjoying reading that organic growing practices are going hand in hand with the eat-local trend, as well, so that fewer chemicals will be manufactured and end up in my body. Sweet.

And I certainly don’t want to forget the fun factor. If I frequent the local farmers’ market, I’ll get to enjoy meeting folks from the farms, and mingling with people from the community.

The article mentions that the typical supermarket carries about 30,000 items, about half of which come from just ten multinational corporations. Yikes. If you know me at all, you’ve probably heard me express concern over the influence of the ever-expanding corporation and its impact on human well being. I’d way rather have the farmer who is actually growing my food receive my support. Well, here’s to putting my money where my mouth is ~ point me to the nearest farmers market!

Cookie Weather

Conal made it home from his extra night in Texas yesterday. He was rested and happy after a good sleep in a hotel room paid for by the airline, on the first really comfortable bed he’d been in for two weeks. We had a pleasant, leisurely drive home from the Sacramento airport, chatting happily the whole way, stopping at the video store, post office, and the grocery store when we got to San Andreas. The day was sunny and warm, and we enjoyed each others’ company and the mild weather. Conal was delighted to be home. The thermometer on our south-facing front porch read in the low 90’s in the afternoon. We had a lovely evening, though jet-lag hit Conal like a load of bricks at about 6:30PM, poor guy. I fed him salad and spaghetti squash with homemade sauce. We cuddled up and watched an episode of “House,” one of our favorite TV shows. Conal made it through the first episode, but faded toward the end of the second. It wasn’t quite 9PM when we crawled into bed.

During the night, perhaps around 2AM, we were awakened by the sound of dripping. It rained! And rained. And kept on raining for hours. It was the first real rain here for several months. Snuggling together, we relished the occaisional misting that settled on us from the open window over our bed. We rejoiced in the rich earthy smell and the coolness of the air.

Continue reading ‘Cookie Weather’ »


I made quiche. Oh yeah, baby. Sage sausage, spinach, onion, mushrooms, and cheeses. I line the bottom of the pie plate with cheese to make a kind of crust. I had extra egg mixture, so I tossed some more cheese and some red bell pepper into a smaller plate for a plain quiche. Mmmmmm! Don’t you wish you were here to eat some?!

In other news, the deer herd was frolicking about on the hill behind our house, chasing each other around and generally making a ruckus. Cute little buggers. There was even a young buck with a couple of points. He better watch out–I think deer season is here! One small one was especially charming, doing the four-legged bouncy-hop thing all over the place. It was pretty much a Disney movie up there.