Yield: 32 cookies Prep time: 60 minutes
This is a sophisticated chocolate cookie for those who love dark chocolate. The texture of these cookies is firm and the flavor is seriously chocolaty. I recommend making the whole batch at once, since leftover dough tends to get very hard in the refrigerator. These cookies are cut into rustic squares, but you can also cut out shapes with a cookie cutter.
2 1/4 cups of rice flour
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/3 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder
6 tablespoons of salted butter (2 tablespoons less than a full stick)
1 cup of sugar
½ cup of tahini
½ teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/2 cup of chocolate chips
Two medium sized bowls; measuring cup; measuring spoons; fork; small bowl; sifter or large wire mesh strainer, silicone spatula, baking sheet, 15” long sheet of parchment paper; rolling pin, metal spatula
This simple condiment is North African, although salt pickled citrus are popular all over of south Asia as well. I love to add a spoon of chopped preserved lemon to soups, braises, pasta salads or rub on chicken or duck before roasting. The texture of preserved lemons is soft and the flavor is uniquely delicious. I recommend Meyer lemons if available, since the skins are softer and the flavor is sweeter than other varieties. Be very generous with the salt since it pulls juice from the lemons and protects them from bacteria and mold. It does take a whole month for the lemon peel to become soft and ready to eat, but it should be good for at least a year.
8-10 organic or pesticide-free lemons, washed
At least 1 cup of sea salt
Freshly squeezed lemon juice, as needed
2 cinnamon sticks, broken in half
10 peppercorns (optional)
4 1-cup canning jars, sterilized (this can be done in the dishwasher)
Butter is yummy, but it’s shocking how good it is with a little extra something. If you want to make anything super delicious, just spread a little of this magic on top.
This condiment can be used immediately or frozen and enjoyed later.
Measuring spoons, garlic press, a small food processor or a fork and a small bowl.
Let butter sit a room temperature for an hour, or until soft
Place ingredients in a food processor and pulse until ingredients are evenly mixed.
Enjoy on cooked fish, steak, steamed vegetables or toast.
Pickles are the easiest of the lacto-fermented vegetable recipes, so long as you choose firm vegetables like radishes, carrots and cauliflower. Cucumbers are tender and fermentation tends to make them mushy and unappealing. You can combat this by soak your cucumbers in cold water for a couple of hours before starting the pickling process and add a fresh grape leaf or two to the jar, but vinegar pickled cucumbers are still far superior. Stick with the firmer vegetables for reliable success.
Enjoy pickle vegetables with meat, beans, sandwiches or salads. I prefer pickles when they are fairly young, 1-3 months old. They keep better than some varieties of kraut, but they taste less “alive” when they’ve been sitting around for months.
You can experiment with alternative whole spices, such as caraway, cardamom pods, allspice and cinnamon sticks for different flavors.
Makes approximately 3 pints or 6 cups of pickles
1 pound of firm vegetables such cauliflower, icicle or Easter egg radishes, daikon chunks, carrots, baby beets or green beans
1 cabbage leaf for every two containers
12 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon of one or more of the following: whole mustard seed, dill seed, peppercorns, coriander seeds
3 cups of freshly boiled filtered or spring water
3 teaspoons of sea salt
1 probiotic capsule or 2 tablespoons of brine from a previous batch of pickles
3 sterilized pint-sized canning jars
1 quart or liter sized glass container
1 quart sized bowl for peels and pits
1 large cutting board
1 large sharp knife
Large metal or plastic mixing spoon
Yield: 2 dozen large cookies
Time Required: 45 minutes
This is my answer to the need to bake homemade chocolate chip cookies. It doesn’t contain any complicated ingredients; just rice flour, nut butter and everything you would expect to find in a chocolate chip cookie recipe.
Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Yield: 2-dozen large cookies Preparation Time: 45 minutes
3/4 cup (1.5 sticks) of softened salted butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
½ cup of almond butter, peanut butter or tahini
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
¼ cup of water
2 ½ cups gluten-free quick oats
1 cup of rice flour
½ teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1½ cups of chocolate chips
Small ceramic plate; two medium sized bowls; measuring cup; measuring spoons; a fork; a silicone spatula; baking sheet, parchment paper; metal spatula
Once upon a time, before there was acrylic, crochet was done with tiny hooks the size of sewing needles with cotton thread. It was very lacy and was used to make decorative collars, lined coin purses and elaborate tablecloths. Here’s an example of filet work by my great grandmother.
Some people still crochet this way, but it’s painstakingly slow and those stitches are tiny. Here’s a coin purse in progress by a friend of mine that I photographed over a year ago. I’m pretty sure it isn’t finished yet.
Things got a little more fun once more colorful dyes became available, but it was still mostly tiny lace. My great aunt made this doily.
Most people imagine the acrylic granny square afghans which were so popular in the 1970s when they think of crochet. There were some ugly, itchy blankets, but I blame the yarn, not the technique. Here’s a lovely granny afghan a friend made me.
My first crocheted afghan was a collaboration with my mother. She started this project, realized that it was a bigger task than she anticipated and enlisted me to help her finish it. I crocheted half of the squares and together we sewed them together and wove in a ridiculous number of ends. It was a massive undertaking even for two people with years of experience. This is a message to all the overenthusiastic new crafters who want to make a king sized monochromatic crochet blanket for their first project. Do yourself a favor and start with a hot pad or a pillow cover.
I think my favorite crochet projects are shawls made in lightweight, drapey fibers. This one is made in a cotton/silk blend and is based on the very popular virus shawl, which is a free pattern. You will need to scroll down a little to upload this pattern.
The next shawl is one of my all time favorites, plus it was fun to make. The yarn is a wool/llama blend, so it’s a cozy party. The pattern is Lost In Time, and yes, it’s another free pattern, because I’m cheap and it’s a great pattern.
This year my challenge was to make a flattering crochet cardigan. Crochet can be thicker and less drapey than knit material. My solution was to do the rabbit hole cardigan with very drapey yarns that have been sitting in my stash. Here it is in a silk/alpaca blend, and you can see how it just drapes like mad. This pattern is basically a giant granny square, but the satiny yarn couldn’t look less like grandma’s afghan.
I tried this pattern again, this time pairing a fuzzy mohair with lace weight alpaca yarn. I crocheted this with a V stitch instead of shell stitch. It’s quite warm in spite of the open, lacy structure.
So there’s a tour of the world of crochet. In spite of the intimidating examples I’ve shown here, more people agree that it is easier to learn than knitting because you only have to manage one loop at a time instead of the entire row at once. And if you ever see something in a store that you recognize as crochet, remember that somebody made it by hand. There are machines that can knit, there isn’t a machine that can crochet.
Pretty soon I was looking for other things to decorate. A friend requested that I give her skull and cross bone bag some personality, so I added some free-hand flowers and insects.
I also enjoyed decorating very simple items like these blue fingerless gloves made from felted sweaters with stars made from bullion stitches and French knots.
I also like tracing and elaborating on pattern fabrics, like this vintage flowered fabric which I quilted onto another knitting bag.
My most elaborate embroidery is this lotus flower which is based on a design by William Morris. It started it as a means to practice satin stitch, but it’s final destination was a square in a baby quilt. The variety of colors is kind of wacky, but the change kept me entertained through the sewing process.
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