Peanut Butter Coast

After traversing up the west coast from my childhood home in Oregon, over and through beach and mountain and park and forest and water and snow, we’re sitting in a small restaurant in Seattle where we order real Chocolate Peanut Butter ice cream for dessert.

“Do you think that when we get home, you could add chocolate to the peanut butter ice cream you make?” he asks.

Why, of course. Chocolate goes very well with anything naturally vegan and gluten-free. And while I shockingly haven’t yet incorporated chocolate into this recipe as requested in the few days since our return, I will. Very soon.

In stark contrast to the oppressive heat and humidity of Ohio in July, Oregon and Washington offered a good chill — cold, even. Coupled with layers of athletic clothes, peanut butter + chocolate = comfort food and part of the camping experience, the hiking experience, and finally the downtown experience.

In Ohio, during less climate-oppressive months, combatting the chill means having a crochet experience. Crochet is warm and comforting too, like peanut butter. Is it any wonder that I crochet in peanut butter ? Or vanilla, for that matter? What food reference is this color — wheat? Whoops, that blows the gluten-free deal.

But back to ice cream. As stated before, I almost never exactly follow a recipe. I’ve had great success with making one or all of the following substitutions in this Peanut Butter Coconut Ice Cream recipe (Vegetarian Times):  Brown sugar for maple syrup, almond milk for the soy creamer (add a little more vanilla than the recipe calls for if you go this route), full-fat coconut milk instead of light, and creamy peanut butter instead of crunchy. I’ve always used the ice cream maker method. And while I haven’t yet blended liquid or powdered chocolate into the batter, throwing chocolate chips on top of the ice cream upon serving is a no-brainer yes.

Peanut Butter Coconut Ice Cream
“A heavy-duty blender (such as a Vita-Mix) makes quick work of this frozen treat, but a regular blender will get the job done if you just keep turning it off and pushing down the ice cubes. Or you can simply blend all the ingredients, chill, and process in an ice cream maker.”
  • 1 13.5-oz. can light coconut milk (1 ½ cups)
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • ½ cup crunchy peanut butter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup French vanilla soy creamer, divided
  1. Purée coconut milk, maple syrup, peanut butter, and vanilla in blender until smooth. Pour mixture into 2 ice cube trays, and freeze solid. Transfer to resealable plastic bags if storing for more than 2 days.
  2. Place half of ice cream cubes and 1/2 cup soy creamer in blender, and process until smooth and creamy. Repeat with second tray of cubes and remaining ½ cup soy creamer.000_2169

This is perfect for when:

Your parents and your significant other’s are going to meet for the first time in just a few days.
You’ll be with a new client in your renovation-pause home exactly 12 hours from now.
You’re internally and externally challenged about turning on the air conditioning. In a big way.
The fish bowls need cleaned.
Another imperfect post, accompanied by:
Melissa — the Allman Brothers
The other blog.


Sensitive Cookie

When you sit alone under the Arizona starry sky and quietly tell the Universe, bring it on, I’m ready — ready for the good stuff, to learn, to move forward, to make it all real — you probably don’t anticipate the added challenge of suddenly becoming sensitive to certain foodstuffs. An elimination diet might help, but you have residual emotional baggage from when you did that in a different way decades ago and ran into trouble. So you resort to your own type of experimentation.

Like wheat elimination. Enter the Heart Healthiest Chocolate Chip Cookies in the World (Vegetarian Times). No denial necessary, good for breakfast, lunch, and sometimes dinner, snacks between, and gig accompaniment. I knew someone who swore that eating raw cookie dough late at night helped him maintain and/or lose weight. He would step on the scale the very next morning and see a lower number. What do you call that kind of diet? Perhaps The Salmonella Special.

No raw eggs here (vegan, gluten-free if you’re careful with your oats). And baking is instant gratification — thoroughly smashing stuff up followed by warm gooey comfort. Here, a food processor, plus chocolate, confirms that cookie baking helps you work through, and have, it all.


I almost never follow a recipe exactly. I will say that using brown sugar here instead of white is definitely preferable taste-wise. To make oat flour, process the same measurement of oats into a semi-powder, i.e. one cup oats = one cup oat flour. You’ll probably want to make your oat flour in the food processor before you start making that yummy awesome walnut butter paste, as above. All photos in this post represent HALF of the recipe below.

Heart Healthiest Chocolate Chip Cookies in the World
Makes 30 cookies
30 minutes or fewer

  • 3 Tbs. canola oil — (I typically use coconut oil)
  • 2 cups walnuts
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1½ cups oat flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 3 3.5-oz. bars bittersweet vegan chocolate, chopped, or 1½ cups vegan chocolate chips (12 oz.)

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat 2 baking sheets with cooking spray, or line with parchment paper.

2. Blend walnuts in food processor 30 seconds, or until ground into a fine meal. Add canola oil, and blend 2 to 3 minutes more, or until mixture has the consistency of natural peanut butter, scraping down sides of food processor occasionally. Transfer to bowl.

3. Whisk together brown sugar and ½ cup water in small saucepan, and bring mixture to a boil. Pour brown sugar mixture over ground walnut butter, add vanilla extract, and stir until no lumps remain.

4. Whisk together oat flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in separate bowl. Stir oat flour mixture into walnut mixture. Cool 10 minutes. Fold in oats, then chocolate chips.


5. Shape cookie dough into 2-inch balls, and place 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Flatten cookies with bottom of drinking glass dipped in water. Bake 8 to 10 minutes, or until cookies begin to brown and tops look dry. Cool 3 minutes on baking sheets, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.


These are perfect for when:

You want something semi-healthy and sweet, but not cloyingly so.
You are power-planning a trip to the other side of the country.
You need something to hold you over until gluten-free pizza time.
Your heart aches. But make sure you include a long walk, too.
Another imperfect post, accompanied by:
New snippets-in-progress from Andrew Bird’s Measure for Measure (NY Times) May 2013 post
The other blog.

Dairy-free Coconut Cherry Macadamia Ice Cream. Yep.

Here’s the deal — it’s hot and we all know that.  Add in frustrating computer work and something like this is birthed and consumed in no time flat.

Coconut Cherry Macadamia Ice Cream (vegan)

2 cans regular (not light) coconut milk

1/4 to 1/2 cups white sugar (because not long ago I overdosed on agave)

pure vanilla extract to taste

pinch of salt

about 1/4 cup macadmia nuts

about 3/4 cup pitted organic Washington cherries

Process coconut milk, sugar, vanilla and salt in blender.  Throw in macadamia nuts and pulse for just a few seconds.  For a less grittier texture, don’t grind them at all.  Chill mixture in refrigerator until coconut milk starts to solidify, not more than an hour.

Pour/scrape mixture into ice cream machine and process for about 20 minutes, then add cherries and process for 5-10 minutes more.  Spoon some into a bowl for immediate intake and freeze the rest.  It will freeze hard but in these temps, leaving it out on the counter for just a few minutes brings it right back to its way-too-easy-to-eat soft-serve texture.

Related posts (um, all of them? But more specifically):

Lemon Bundt Cake
Mango Mousse
Raw Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Mango Mousse

This, my friends, might be the easiest dessert you ever make.  And, it sports all the latest trendy descriptions — vegan, vegetarian, dairy-, egg-, gluten-, and sugar-free.

It firms up semi-solid in the refrigerator, about the consistency of full fat yogurt, so it’s delectable on its own or with, say, strawberries plus homemade granola = Triple Threat Yum.

Mango Mousse

one 14 oz can of full fat (not lite) organic coconut milk

one peeled mango (I prefer yellow Champagne and here’s how to cut it)

vanilla extract to taste

agave nectar to taste

Place all ingredients in the blender and mix well.  Pour into a small container and refrigerate overnight if you can stand to wait that long.  You will be rewarded with spoonable mousse-like foam that will be hard to put down and very easy to guiltlessly and joyfully put away (eat).

Can you imagine a chocolate version? OH YES.


The Need for Chocolate

This is a blurry picture of a perfectly-shaped piece of homemade dark chocolate; I’m unable to take a better picture because the chocolate is, of course, now gone.  This bar sits atop the small saucer of one of my grandmother’s teacups.

Sometimes, I run out of chocolate.  It’s rare when I do, but when cashews aren’t cutting it and I can’t get to the store soon to replenish my dark chocolate reserves, I make my own.

This little bar sports peppermint and a bit of vanilla and tastes just like those Olive Garden mints from so long ago, minus the strange green stripe.  And it is crazy easy to make.

Combine equal parts coconut oil (melted) and cocoa powder, add agave nectar to taste.  Other possible additions:  vanilla extract, peppermint extract, nuts, fruit and/or extracts, flavored salt.

Spoon melted chocolate goodness into an ice cube tray, and place tray in the freezer.

Coconut oil solidifies at low temperatures, with no blooming.  If it’s taking too long to solidify, you’re opening the freezer too often and you’re better off just going to the store.

When it’s ready, it will pop out of the ice cube tray with ease, and the result is extremely smooth flavored chocolate in bite-size bits.  Savor it and the moment by serving it on something you love, from someone you love.