Leaving only salted chocolate chip cookies behind

Thursday early morning I’ll hop on a plane to Atlanta, wander through the airport to connect with my flight to El Salvador, where I’ll be for the next 10 months.

I’m leaving my sister some cookies to get her through the first few days of my absence…
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These next 10 months are a result of a Fulbright research grant to study soil chemistry on coffee farms. I’ll be working with an organization called Blue Harvest to do some soil analyses that I have become familiar with through research at Smith. The adjustment will be steep, but I’m looking forward to the challenge. It has always been that in these times of discomfort that I’ve grown the most, so while I recognize the present anxiety in the imminent travel, I know that the long-term benefits outweigh any trepidations.

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As I frantically pack last-minute items, I’ll also be enjoying my last day in Chicago summer. Tomatoes will be my primary food group, picked off the vine, and juice dripping down my chin.Mostly sweet, slightly acidic, tasting like sunshine and keeping me grounded for one more day.

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Coconut-date chocolate-chip cookies

In the winding up of the winding down of the semester, my peers and I are hunkering down for the whirlwind of graduation. I’m not allowing myself to think about it yet, and to decrease the stress and increase procrastination (inversely proportional when time<1 day?), I rode my bike down to Deals and Steals. Biking uphill (up a drumlin– I live on a cool glacial feature!) with a bag of flour and a small container of chopped dates ($0.99!) and a can of coconut cream is no easy task. So these cookies were made for mental diversion via physical exertion.

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Recipe:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1/4 c. coconut cream
  • 1 c. white sugar
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, room temp
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/4 c white flour
  • 1/2 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 c. unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 c. pitted and chopped dates

Preheat the oven to 375F. Cream the butter, coconut cream and sugars until well blended. Add eggs one and a time until combined. Mix in vanilla. Add at once the flours, baking soda, salt, and the coconut, dates, and chocolate chips. Mound on cookie sheets, and bake for 10ish minutes until light brown around the edges and maybe a bit on the top. Store in a container once cooled. nom nom nom. Feeds 8-10 out of season swimmers on a Friday night.

Convection Oven Baking

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In the Ilam Apartments at the University of Canterbury, our “oven” is a convection oven/microwave. It is finicky, and only likes to have its buttons pushed certain ways. To get it to be an oven, you have to push the third button on the outside 5 times until 230C comes up on the display, then you have to preheat it, but only after the door is closed otherwise it becomes a microwave again if you push “Start” too soon. So after it beeps to let you know that maybe it’s ready to work, you can put your dough/otherrawthing into the microwaveoven BUT don’t shut the door before pushing the elongated mini-button inside the door. Must push button until desired temperature is displayed, then don’t forget to push the time on the outside row of buttons before closing the door or else it turns into a microwave again. So after all of these buttons are pushed in this exact order, you can close the door and push start. And then sometimes it decides it wants to be a microwave anyway and you end up with burnt granola– true story.

This week I’m vibing with the microwave-oven. I’m pushing its buttons but I think we’re on good terms. Here’s one of the first successful things I’ve made (see above photo):

Coconut-Banana Granola Bars/cookies (from my friend Robyn)

  • 1/2 c. oats
  • 1 mashed banana
  • 1/4 c. chocolate chips
  • Few tablespoons c. shredded coconut
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375F. Mix all ingredients together. Form into cookie or bar shapes and place on a lined cookie sheet (I made the granola bars in an 8×8 square pan, but it’s the only oven-proof pan I have, so run wild and free with other pan dimensions and shapes). Bake 10 minutes, flipping cookies/bars around halfway through if you remember (unclear if this is necessary in a normal oven, but it helps when using mr. finicky here). Take out, let cool, happy snacking!

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Also a hello from some happy surfers! Ashley and I had a blast in the waves this past Thursday– we surfed on the remaining swells from Typhoon Pam! I promise I’m studying…