Cookie Monster

I took advantage of the cooler temperatures last week (we’re heading back toward “normal” summer heat now) to appease the Cookie Monster.

He wanted a batch of crunchy oatmeal raisin cookies and I wanted to try a new recipe for chocolate chip chia cookies.  What’s a girl to do?  Make both, of course!

Making both doughs at the same time allowed me to use the mixer twice and wash once.  I made both doughs in the morning and chilled them for afternoon baking.  I worried that the chia seeds would absorb moisture while sitting, lessening the crunch in the final product, but that wasn’t an issue.


I made some significant adjustments to the chocolate chip chia recipe (above left), which was a bit of a gamble on the first round.  I kept relative proportions the same, but I subbed some rice flour and quick oats for some of the spelt flour, swapped some of the butter for nut butter, and reduced the sugar.

The result?  A low-sweetness, chewy, chocolatey cookie with crunch from the chia seeds and pecans.  They work either as a granola bar-type snack or as a healthy treat — just what I wanted!


We used to freeze cookie dough balls for later baking, but it’s easier (and more energy efficient, especially in the summer) to heat the oven once, bake all the cookies in one go, and freeze them for later enjoyment.

The oatmeal cookies (smaller cookies in above photos) are a recipe from a friend, who made a batch for Matthew and his mom for their road trip to Florida earlier this summer.  The spices really make the cookies — enjoy!

Judy’s oatmeal cookies

2 c. whole wheat pastry flour
1 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. nutmeg
1/4 t. cloves
1/4 t. allspice
1 c. brown sugar
1 c. white sugar
1 c. butter
2 eggs
2 t. vanilla
2.5 cups rolled oats
1 c. chopped walnuts and/or pecans
1 c. raisins (or dried cherries or cranberries)

Combine all dry ingredients (except the oats), including spices.  Set aside.

Cream the butter and sugars.  Add eggs and vanilla.

Combine dry ingredients with butter-egg mixture.  Stir in the oats, nuts, and fruit.  Chill dough for at least an hour (or up to thirty-six hours), before scooping and baking.

Preheat oven to 350°F.  For crunchy cookies (this is how we made a previous batch, and how Judy makes them), make very small dough balls (maybe a not-heaping tablespoon of dough?) and bake for 12-15 minutes, rotating top and bottom trays halfway through.

I was curious about a chewier oatmeal cookie, so I made the dough balls a bit bigger, but kept the cooking time about the same.

The plan was actually that some would come out crunchier (for Cookie Monster) and some chewier (for me), but I’m afraid none were the super crunchy that Cookie Monster was hoping for, unless he eats them straight from the freezer — they’re very crunchy that way!

Making crackers

As you may have noticed, we make many items from scratch and buy very little processed food.  However, crackers are an exception to that general practice.  We don’t eat all that many crackers, probably in part because they ARE processed and involve a good bit of packaging waste.

Once a baby entered the picture, crackers went on my mental “things I could make from scratch, but since I’m not in the habit of doing so, and life is now crazy, I probably never will” list, along with making soy milk and a few other things that I don’t remember right now.

A few weeks ago, Matthew printed out this recipe for homemade crackers.  I set it aside, assuming nothing would come of it.  Shortly thereafter, he took a turn staying home with our sick little Sir.

When I returned home from work that day, I found a fresh batch of homemade crackers.  (In case making crackers and prepping dinner while caring for a sick baby weren’t enough, he also made homemade croissants, ensuring that I would look like a complete slacker on my days home with the baby — just sayin’).

Anyhow, I tried my hand at the crackers over the weekend, giving them a multigrain twist, and making a double batch, because we noticed that a single batch disappeared very quickly.  Continue reading “Making crackers”

Wonder(ful) bread

We may, on occasion, take things to extremes here in the Green Life household.  On Sunday, I biked to church, and a fellow parishioner commented on my “extreme cycling.”  Perfectly dry pavement, no precipitation on the radar, and almost 32° F?  NOT extreme, especially not with the help of my trusty balaclava and super-warm mittens.  Sometimes one person’s extreme is another person’s normal.

So, bread.  We’ve been making our own bread for quite awhile now, but our neighbors inspired us to branch out a bit.  First, we borrowed their Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day cookbook.  Good concept, but lacking our beloved whole grains.  This led us to the follow-up Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day, which had a couple of recipes that seemed close, but not quite right, due to the presence of some white flour.  Surely we could make a great, basic whole wheat bread with 100% whole wheat!Continue reading “Wonder(ful) bread”

Summer eats and treats

I kicked off the weekend with a strawberry banana smoothie, made with frozen local berries, homemade yogurt from local milk, and The Last Banana, recovered from the depths of the freezer, served in a green glass.

Delicacy or discard?  That funky looking growth is huitlacoche, a fungus that grows on corn (known in the U.S. as “corn smut”).  It’s edible, and in Mexico, it fetches a high price, much higher than the corn itself.  Matthew handled the prep work.  I avoided touching it until he cooked it.  (If he’d been feeling ornery, he could have chased me around the apartment, threatening to touch me with it.)  Once cooked, it looked and tasted much like any other cooked fungus (i.e., mushroom).  Click here to read more details, including potential health benefits.

At my urging, Matthew bought a tomato at the farmers’ market.  (He liked the idea of our first tomato of the season being from our garden, but we’re not quite there yet — soon!)  Dressed up with basil (courtesy of our neighbors’ plant — hope they won’t mind 😉 ), olive oil, and s&p.  Yum!

Partial results of another oven extravaganza: zucchini bread and chocolate chip pumpkin bread.  I have not purchased bananas for a year-and-a-half, due to their large carbon footprint (which gives you a sense of the age of the banana that went into the aforementioned smoothie).  As predicted, these two quick breads make great alternatives to banana bread.

Sneak peak of “Summer eats and treats — Part II” coming tomorrow: homemade pizza and ice cream sandwiches!

Oven extravaganza

I really hesitate to use the oven in the summer, but I live with a baked-good fiend.  To minimize the impact, I try to save up baking projects to avoid heating up the apartment for one tray of cookies.

As a concession for over a week of gross, unseasonably hot weather at the end of May/beginning of June, St. Louis granted us some slightly cooler temps on Sunday.  With quite the backlog of baking, the oven extravaganza swept through our apartment after lunch.  The menu featured zucchini bread, peach-cherry pie, granola, and butterscotch bars.  We used local peaches and zucchini (frozen from last summer).

Health notes: As usual, we baked with 100% whole wheat pastry flour (it is difficult for me to eat baked goods, even nice, homemade baked goods, made with white flour — they taste too sweet and lack the depth of flavor that the whole wheat provides, not to mention the nutritional benefits of whole grains).  We also somewhat reduced the sugar in most of the recipes.

Our oven extravaganza two weeks ago featured more varied cuisine: kale chips, roasted pumpkin seeds, chocolate chip cookies, sunflower seeds, beets, and granola.  I’ve been curious about those kale chips for quite awhile now — they were quite good, and a fun alternative if you’re inundated with kale from your garden or CSA share.

However, during Sunday’s baking, I noticed that most items took longer to bake than usual.  Our pans filled the oven, but not so much that it should have restricted airflow.  Maybe it was the semi-frequent opening and closing that came with having multiple items with different baking times and needs (e.g., the granola needed to be stirred every now and then)?  Did we really save any energy?

Next time, I will track exactly how long we have the oven on, and compare it to how long it would take to bake each item, one-at-a-time.  The fact that the oven only preheated once, compared to four times if we baked Sunday’s items in separate sessions, must translate to SOME savings.