Tales of a wandering lesbian

Posts from — August 2009

World-Changing Agave-Sweetened Peanut-Butter Chocolate-Chip Cookies

About a year and a half ago I gave up refined sugar (for the most part).

On the way home from a bridal shower where I’d come alive from an anti-social stupor after snarfing a large piece of the shower cake, Leigh said to me, “maybe we should give up the refined sugar for a while.”

Like the addict I was I lost it.  “You can’t do that!  There’s sugar in everything!  It’s just not possible.”


After about 5 minutes of rationalizing, I heard myself and realized I had a problem.  The two of us laughed hard and decided maybe we should give up the sugar for a while.  (By the way, refined sugar isn’t in EVERYTHING.)

Being the pastry freak that I am, this was a challenge.  The hardest part was dessert after dinner.  As my grandfather always says, “you must have a little gliko (Greek for ‘sweet’) after every meal!”  So, I set to work researching the best, most natural, least processed sugar-substitute that I could use in baking, and started searching the internet for recipes.  I settled on agave and found a great peanut butter chocolate chip cookie recipe that I modified to use agave instead of a fruit-sweetener.

These cookies keep me sane. I make them practically all the time so that there have been very few days in the last year when these cookies haven’t been in the house.  When I bring them to work, arguments can break out if I don’t bring one for everyone.  I know at least one other person who is nearly as fanatical as I am about making these cookies.  She uses these to control her diabetes.   Don’t worry though, even with the whole-wheat flower and nut butter, there’s nothing medicinal about how these cookies taste.  The might be the best thing ever.  I’m just saying.

I consider them open-source, so let me know if you make improvements on the recipe.


No-Sugar Peanut Butter Chocolate-Chip Cookies:
– 1 cup natural style nut butter. I use unsalted peanut but you could use salted if you like better (you can also use almond)

– put 2 tablespoons of water in a 2/3 cup measure. Add agave syrup to fill the 2/3 measure (I prefer dark, but light works too)
– 1 generous tsp vanilla

– 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (For wheat-free, sub barley flower, or oat.  For gluten-free sub quinoa flour.)
– 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
– 1/2 tsp salt

– About 3/4 cup grain sweetened chocolate chips – or dark chocolate chips if you can’t find grain sweetened

Oven to 350 degrees, parchment paper on two cookie sheets (or butter them, or use nothing at all). Mix wet ingredients in mixer, add dry ingredients, beat until combined. Stir in chocolate chips. Make balls with heaping Tbsp of dough, then squish with a wet fork to get the traditional pattern. I use all the dough to make 12 cookies. I bake Exactly 10 minutes if I want them chewy. (These are easy to overcook due to their color – so watch closely, and take out when they are just barely browning on top.  Maybe start with 8 mins and check the underside of one cookie, just to be safe.  For barley, oat or quinoa, you might want to bake longer.)



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August 10, 2009   27 Comments


I love food.  I come by it honestly.

When my family gets together, our day will tytpcally go something like this:

“Good morning! Come sit down and eat!  You want cereal?  You want toast?  You want pannetone and jumbalone and turchaneals?  How about rhubarb sauce?  Apple sauce?  Rhubarb sauce in your cereal?  Dunk that in your coffee.   Pass one to me so I can dunk it in my coffee.  I’ll go put more in the toaster.  Where should we go to lunch?”

What’s great is my family is a bunch of really good cooks and bakers.  From Greek and Italian pastries to low-fat masterpieces that came from a need to control my dad’s cholesterol, I grew up eating some amazing home-cooked food.

Over the last couple of years I’ve moved from pasta and bottled sauce to some pretty amazing pasta dishes, salads and my signature agave-sweetened peanut-butter chocolate-chip cookies.

I enjoy cooking and baking, but the best part for me is sharing.  Check back for news and updates on recipes and creations.  I’ll start with that cookie recipe.  I’ve been told it could change the world.  Well, if anyhting can, why not a cookie?

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August 10, 2009   1 Comment


My grandfather celebrated his 89th birthday last weekend.  89.  Wow.

My grandfather is many things.  He is a Pear Harbor Survivor and a carpenter.  He loves trains.  He makes train whistles and turtle-stools, and all manner of fabulous things.   He is a tinkerer and creator of the highest order.   He is Greek and French, though the Greek is the part we really talk about.  He is even a past master of the Masons.  Most of all, he is a story-teller.

He has a story for EVERYTHING.  Sometimes he has two or three stories.  (For example, there are 2 stories that are told every time we eat asparagus. )  Once in a great while, he comes up with a new one that my sister and I haven’t heard – probably becaue we’re now old enough to hear the more racey ones.  Those  are always excellent.

My favorites, and I think his, are folk stories he must have heard growing up, of a man called Nostradin Hodja.

As an adult I learned that “Hodja” means “Mullah,” but to me, it was his last name.  The stories are a kind of mix of fable and dirty limerick, usually showing Nostradin as a fool.  I always saw him as a kind of uncle, and the stories of my grandfather’s making.  Maybe 15 years ago, my grandfather made recordings of the recited stories in his own voice.  They are gems.  I remember spending hours with him on his computer making a drawing of Nostradin in Microsoft Paint for the cassette jacket cover.

So, in honor of my grandfather, here is one of my favorite Nostradin stories.  This is one of two stories that is told in my family whenever someone spills food on themselves.

‘There was a great feast happening in the village where Nostradin Hodja lived.  Everyone in the village was preparing the town square.  There would be very important  dignitaries at the feast, and Nostradin was excited to get to meet them.

When the time came for him to go to the feast, he got dressed and entered the town square.  Everyone from the village was there.  There were beautiful high tables set on a stage above the villagers, where the dignitaries were seated.  As he approached the high tables, Nostradin was stopped by attendants and told that he could sit in the lower tables with the other villagers.

Well, this did not suit Nostradin at all.  He gazed at the dignitaries dressed in their fine silk robes and fancy turbins.  He looked down at his rough wool tunic and felt his ordinary fez.  “I know!” cried Nostradin, and he rushed from the square.

When he arrived home, he found his finest silk robes and grandest turbin.  He even put on his shoes that turned up at the toes, and set off toward the square once again.

This time, when he approached the high tables, he was greeted by the attendants who welcomed him to sit with the dignitaries.

He enjoyed a lovely feast of roast lamb, rosemary potatoes, glittering fruits and the finest wines – all in the company of the dignitaries.

At the end of the feast, Nostradin took some food from his plate and began rubbing it on his robes, in his turbin, and even across his shoes that turned up at the toes.  “Nostradin!  What are you doing?!” cried one of the attendants.  “Well,” said Nostradin, “it is these clothes that got me my seat at the feast, and they should enjoy the feast as much as I!”‘

Ask me some time and I’ll tell you the other story for when you spill food on yourself.

Thanks Grandpa!  Happy Birthday!

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August 6, 2009   2 Comments

I don’t read.

Sometime after law school, a few years after law school in fact, I answered the door to a newspaper vendor.  He wanted to sign me up for a subscription that had lapsed.  I looked at him and said simply, “I don’t read.”  He gave me a pitting look, thanked me for my time, and walked away.  It wasn’t until after I closed the door that I realized what I’d said.

The truth is, sometime during law school, I stopped reading for pleasure.  I think it happened somewhere between picking up my first syllabus and reading 500 pages for my first class.  Yeah, that’s probably where it happened.  I guess when I was required to read hundreds or thousands of pages each week, the desire to read anything else drained from my body.

It’s not that I was an avid reader before law school, but I enjoyed reading.  I enjoyed the idea of reading.  But, since I entered law school (10 years ago!!!!!!!!!! oh shit, I just had a little meltdown), the thought of reading is intertwined with late nights, failing eyesight, hours of outlining, and memorization. And, although I enjoy outlining and memorization more than the average duck, it’s not something I want to do at night before I go to bed.

Recently, I’ve mentioned this phenomenon to friends from law school.  It seems I’m not alone.  Maybe we should start a support group for lawyers who can no longer read for pleasure.  We’re a sad bunch.  At least I enjoyed law school.  I feel sorry for all my classmates who suffered through 3 years of torture, only to find that they are now deprived of the pleasure of reading.

There is one notable exception for me.  For whatever reason, both during law school and pretty much every day since then, I’ve been obsessed with Harry Potter.  I refused to read the books until after the third one had come out – the hype troubled the non-conformist in me.  Once I started, though, I couldn’t stop.  I can’t tell you why.  But it means that I’ve read each of the books probably 10 times.  My ex, Leigh, who is also a lawyer, has probably read the series 3+ times.  At least I’m not alone.

So here’s the Public Service Announcement:

If you are considering entering law school, you should know that law school will very possibly sap your desire to read for fun.  It  also has the potential to create a powerful obsession with a boy wizard.

Someday I hope to be able to pick up a book and make it more than 50 pages through.  Maybe I’ll try the Twilight series…

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August 5, 2009   6 Comments

Freedom Lite

I have long enjoyed the creative names that are given to the ginormous trailers people take camping.  Up until recently, my favorite was the “Intruder.”  I really appreciate its self-aware irony.

But at a softball tournament this weekend, when a friend of mine said, “yeah, we’re over there in the “Aljo” next to the “Freedom Lite,” I just about lost it.  I grabbed my camera out of my bat-bag and charged over to the RV area.

Freedom Lite

I give you the “Freedom Lite” – for when Freedom is just too heavy.

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August 3, 2009   2 Comments