Kwanzaa Culinarians 2014: Cacao Benne Cookies

Cacao Benne Cookies

Make a pot of tea or coffee, light a candle, grab a comfortable seat, and plate a few cacao benne (pronounced benny) cookies. How was your year? Since the time I’ve learned 14 isn’t my favorite number, I’ve cautiously waited for the year of 2014. It’s a painfully honest number. And, when the clock turned 2014 in the midnight hour on January first, I said a silent prayer. God help us. And, as I’ve imaged, this year is a roller coaster of emotions. Russia. Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Ebola in West Africa. Mike Brown and other victims of the police. Family members passing. By the time summer arrived, my stomach was jumping to the tune of “War” sung by The Temptations. Since the beginning of human relationships, I’m sure there’s a country or region involved in war somewhere around the globe. Perhaps, due to my sensitivity to 14, this year’s wars and conflicts deeply troubled me. It’s 2014 communicating, “War… What is it good for?… absolutely nothing…”

Read more

Never Forget these Pecan Bars

Pecan Bars

Potato Chips, fruity and hard candies, twirly sugar sticks, chewy caramels, salty pretzels and raw nuts were not my childhood friends. Among the most offending taste were raw nuts. The taste of peanuts are what I image wood to taste like, but I love peanut butter. And, I will never understand people’s obsession with salted sunflower seeds as they spit speckled shells onto subway train floors. Then there’s the pecans. They’re a different nut.

Read more

Parade.com: Cardamon Snickerdoodles

Cardamon Snickerdoodles

It’s the various spices that define holiday baking with cinnamon being the most common of them all. Next to beautifully adored butter cookies, simple snickerdoodles rolled in cinnamon and sugar are one of my favorite cookies because of its soft and chewy texture. In this recipe, coconut sugar replaces white sugar for a less sweetened and a hint of caramel flavor. While white-whole wheat flour is tossed with all-purpose white flour for a slightly healthier treat. The other change? Cardamon replaces cinnamon for a different sweet and spicy flavor. Along with cinnamon, it’s a spice redefining the holidays among adventurous bakers.

Read more

Appetizing Thoughts: The Now and Future of First Fresh Olive Oil

Saffron Olive Oil Cookies with Blood Orange Glaze

In 2011, Bill Sanders of First Fresh Olive Oil was interviewed, in which he demystified olive oil and promoted the launch of a kickstarter campaign raising money to start a private label selling quality olive oil in the United States at competitive prices. Since successfully raising the funds, he has garnered two outstanding industry recognized awards, crossed the country to introduce his peppery tasting olive oil by offering tastings and learned a few start-up marketing lessons. In this follow up interview, he explains his future goals, inspiration from a recent Sicilian trip for First Fresh Olive Oil and why using olive oil in desserts is better, especially for the recipe—Saffron Olive Oil Cookies with Blood Orange Glaze —at the end of the interview. 
Read more

Strawberry Walnut Cookies and Strawberry Coconut Granola

Dried Strawberry Cookie and Granola

On one of my best friend’s born day, I called to talk about a personal problem and those congratulatory words of “Happy Birthday” never entered the conversation. True to her friendship, she listened and wished me well. A few days later, I realized she never mentioned, hinted or questioned my forgetfulness about her special day.

She’s the friend I discuss revolving problems at three in the morning. We talk countless hours on the phone. Other than my parent’s home number, I remember her phone number. My boyfriend frequently quizzes me about his number (the last four digits occasionally perplex my memory).

The first time we met, she was this bright girl with a warm smile sitting at our cafeteria table. She was a ‘new girl’ in orchestra with my other best friends who introduced us. I was a ‘cool kid’ cheerleader who dismissed this girl with a mickey mouse fan club voice and a Jheri curl hairstyle. As we exchanged pleasantries, I made a mental note to talk with my familiar girlfriends about being careful of inviting certain people to our table. Two years later, “mickey mouse” had stolen the affection of my high school crush. Read more