Sunday, November 21, 2010

Moving on to WordPress

Hello friends.  Big announcement here......I'm moving!  No, I'm not moving my apartment or leaving the city, I'm moving my site.  I'll still be Don't Forget Love and I'll have all my old posts, but I'm now on the WordPress format.  I'm still figuring out that format, but I really like it so far.  So check me out!  DontForgetLove the WordPress way. 

So please subscribe on that website and/or click on the link that says "Posts" in the upper right corner to get my posts on your google homepage (or whatever homepage you use if you have one).  I won't be updating this site any more which is a little sad but I hope you'll enjoy my new format.  I'm sure there will be a few technical difficulties at first, but I hope it will be worth it. 


Monday, November 8, 2010

Yummy (Healthy) Cookies

Ok, so I know what you're thinking—can cookies really be both “yummy” and “healthy”?  Yes!!  I’ve finally found the intersection of yum and health, a veritable venn diagram of baking if you will.

A few weeks ago we had a girls night and I wanted to make something that everyone could eat so I was searching for a gluten free recipe.  Oftentimes gluten free baking requires all sorts of special flours and somewhat hard to find (and typically expensive) ingredients.  Because gluten is a binding agent, when you go gluten free, you have to use all sorts of other things to get the baked good to stay intact. Sometimes homemade cookies and cakes that are gfree can fall apart and don’t have the familiar consistency one thinks of when dreaming about a baked good. 

But I am here to tell you that I’ve found a recipe that bucks this trend!  Of course these tasty treats come from, my go to source for all things healthy and tasty.  I added a few of my own touches to Heidi’s recipe.  If you’d like to spice things up as I did, go ahead and add some mashed up apples (I had some overripe little guys on hand and they were begging to be used).  Also, I added in some nutmeg.  The recipe calls for coconut oil with a possible substitution of olive oil but I used the olive oil and it came out splendidly, so don’t worry about going out to get the coconut if you don’t have that. Also, I made my own almond meal by throwing some almonds in a chopper, it’s super easy.  As Heidi notes, the consistency of the raw cookies will be quite different than you are used to, but no worries, this is to be expected.  Just keep an eye on them and go for the smell test (if they smell done, they probably are!).  Here is Heidi's recipe and my photos follow:

(Heidi's) Nikki's Healthy Cookies
You can use unsweetened carob, or grain sweetened chocolate chips, or do what I did and chop up 2/3 of a bar of Scharffen berger 70%. I sort-of shaved half the bar with a knife and then cut the rest into bigger chip-sized chunks. You can make your own almond meal by pulsing almonds in a food processor until it is the texture of sand - don't go too far or you'll end up with almond butter. And lastly, the coconut oil works beautifully here, just be sure to warm it a bit - enough that it is no longer solid, which makes it easier to incorporate into the bananas. If you have gluten allergies, seek out GF oats.

    3 large, ripe bananas, well mashed (about 1 1/2 cups)
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1/4 cup coconut oil, barely warm - so it isn't solid (or alternately, olive oil)
    2 cups rolled oats
    2/3 cup almond meal
    1/3 cup coconut, finely shredded & unsweetened
    1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
    1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    6 - 7 ounces chocolate chips or dark chocolate bar chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, racks in the top third.

In a large bowl combine the bananas, vanilla extract, and coconut oil. Set aside. In another bowl whisk together the oats, almond meal, shredded coconut, cinnamon, salt, and baking powder. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until combined. Fold in the chocolate chunks/chips.The dough is a bit looser than a standard cookie dough, don't worry about it. Drop dollops of the dough, each about 2 teaspoons in size, an inch apart, onto a parchment (or Silpat) lined baking sheet. Bake for 12 - 14 minutes. I baked these as long as possible without burning the bottoms and they were perfect - just shy of 15 minutes seems to be about right in my oven.

Makes about 3 dozen bite-sized cookies.

I hope you enjoy these yummy and tasty treats--as the holidays approach it's nice to find sweets that don't pack too much of a fatty punch.  Mmmmm healthy and tasty, who knew?!

Monday, November 1, 2010

 “We have all known the long loneliness and we have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes with community.” Dorothy Day

I may have mentioned in past posts that my friend and roommate Heather has been preparing to leave NYC for the Peace Corps in Latin America (with a stop in her hometown of San Francisco).   A week ago, she left the city, a place where she has lived for the last 8 years and the environment in which (in her own words) she has grown from a girl to a woman.  I feel so blessed to have had Heather as a roommate over the past two plus years.  She sure is a whirlwind of energy—a force of nature, as I like to say.  You know those people who are full of big dreams and wishes and idealism but never really seem to know how to set out to accomplish them?  Well my dear friend is definitely not one of them!  I’m excited for her to begin this new chapter and I can’t wait to see the adventures and excitement that await her.

My other roommate Danielle and I threw Heather a going away party for friends, but to say goodbye to our little Bronx community, we did something that felt special but not out of the ordinary.  A few days before she left, we hosted Heather’s last community dinner.  As we try to do almost every week, friends from our building and neighborhood gathered together to eat, drink, and talk.  We shared stories from work, commented on politics and issues in the neighborhood, talked about spouses and children and the babies we are waiting to meet (there is a bit of a baby boom in the building).  In short, we were present to each other for a few blissful hours.  A few things we did were a little bit out of the ordinary for community dinner though—we toasted Heather and she toasted us.  

It was very moving and I can’t think of a better way to formally close out Heather’s time at Rochambeau.

For the farewell dinner, we decided to make pizza.  Heather cannot eat gluten and she had some gluten free pizza mix lying around just begging to be made.  For those who can eat gluten, I made the with-gluten dough.  Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I have to say that this was the best dough recipe I’ve ever made!   I’m not the one who stretched it our baked it—we delegated tasks and I was assigned to putting the dough together.  So I can only take credit for finding the recipe and mixing up the ingredients, but this one is a winner that I will use over and over!

I found this recipe on, my old standby site, but I was pleased to read that this is actually based off a recipe in The Breadbaker’s Apprentice, a book my mom got me almost a year ago!  So it comes from my favorite recipe website and a beloved book, all rolled into one!

The recipe via 101cookbooks (from Peter Reinhart's book):

White Whole Wheat Pizza Dough Recipe

This is a very adapted version of Peter Reinhart's dough using white whole wheat flour. There are a few corners that I'm in the habit of cutting with this dough, all reflected in the following recipe instructions.
4 1/2 cups King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1/4 cup olive oil
1 3/4 cups water, ice cold
a few tablespoons chopped herbs (optional)
Semolina flour or cornmeal for dusting

Stir together the flour, salt, and instant yeast in the bowl of an electric mixer. By hand stir in the oil and the cold water until the flour is all absorbed. Add the herbs. Switch to the dough hook and mix on medium speed for 5 to 7 minutes, or as long as it takes to create a smooth, sticky dough. The dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom of the bowl (to me it looks like a tornado). Add a touch of water or flour to reach the desired effect. The finished dough will be springy, elastic, and sticky, not just tacky.
Transfer the dough to a floured countertop. Cut the dough into 6 equal pieces and mold each into a ball. Rub each ball with olive oil and slip into plastic sandwich bags. Refrigerator overnight.
When you are ready to make pizza (anytime in the next few days), remove the desired number of dough balls from the refrigerator at least 1 hour before making the pizza. Keep them covered so they don't dry out.
At the same time place a baking stone on a rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees (you can go hotter, but I like the results I get at 450). If you do not have a baking stone, you can use the back of a sheet pan, but do not preheat the pan.
Generously dust a peel or the back of a sheet pan with semolina flour or cornmeal and get ready to shape your pizza dough. Uncover or unwrap the dough balls and dust them with flour. Working one at a time, gently press a dough round into a disk wide enough that you can bring it up onto your knuckles to thin out - you should be able to pull each round out to 12-inches or so. If the dough is being fussy and keeps springing back, let it rest for another 15-20 minutes. Place the pulled-out dough on the prepared sheet pan, and jerk the pan to make sure the dough will move around on the cornmeal ball-bearings (you don't want it to stick to the pan).
Add your toppings (less is more!) and slide the topped pizza onto the baking stone. Bake until the crust is crisp and nicely colored. Remove from the oven. I always finish with more freshly grate parmesan and a small drizzle of good quality extra-virgin olive oil.
Makes six 6-ounce pizza crusts.

And some pictures!

Monday, October 18, 2010

No Yesterdays on the Road....

“Traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things – air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky – all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it.” Cesare Pavese

“Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life.” Jack Kerouac

 “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” Mark Twain

 “He who does not travel does not know the value of men.” Moorish Proverb

 “To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world.” Freya Stark

“What you’ve done becomes the judge of what you’re going to do – especially in other people’s minds. When you’re traveling, you are what you are right there and then. People don’t have your past to hold against you. No yesterdays on the road.” William Least Heat Moon

"When you travel, remember that a foreign country is not designed to make you comfortable.  It is designed to make its own people comfortable."  Clifton Fadiman

“Adventure is a path. Real adventure – self-determined, self-motivated, often risky – forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world. The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it. Your body will collide with the earth and you will bear witness. In this way you will be compelled to grapple with the limitless kindness and bottomless cruelty of humankind – and perhaps realize that you yourself are capable of both. This will change you. Nothing will ever again be black-and-white.” Mark Jenkins

“Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.” Maya Angelou

To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.” Bill Bryson


Here I am, back on solid ground and just starting to feel reacquainted with my New York life. There is a lot that has been said about traveling, much of it probably more eloquent than any words I can put together at 11 on a Monday night.  Those quotes and the few pictures (of many!) express a lot of the emotions I feel when thinking about the trip I took.

But how can I describe in words that feeling of sitting outside in a cafe in Amsterdam?  The heat of the sun shining on my face, the sounds of the nearby canal, the taste of the cappuccino I'm drinking....haven't I experienced almost all of this before? But somehow it is not the same elsewhere.  Somehow it's more magical, more special.

I kept a journal while we were going from place to place and I can tell you that there were two themes to all my entries. 

One, the people.  Traveling makes you vulnerable and no matter how prepared you are, you will still find yourself in need of help at some point (or many points!) during your trip.  Allowing yourself to be open to the beautiful kindness of strangers (even if you can barely understand one another) has got to be hands down the the most important, and rewarding, skill to cultivate.  The vibrant cast of characters we met along the way is what I will cherish most about the experience.  From the older Romanian man who hung out in my and Heather's train cabin having a very one-sided but lovely conversation in Romanian with us, to the Peace Corps volunteer who let us shower at her apartment because we didn't have a shower at our room in the orphanage, to the fun French, German, Spanish, British people we had dinner with at various guest houses and hostels, to the children and nurses at the orphanage who touched my heart, and the countless kind hearted souls who gave us directions in all different languages, the trip would have been half as wonderful if it weren't for the generosity of so many human beings!

Two, FOOD!  Though Heather and I had a rough few days food-wise while at the orphanage (we had no kitchen and had to eat in odd Romanian restaurants), overall I've never eaten better in my life.  The trip reignited my love for mamaliga--the Romanian staple of corn mush (kind of like polenta), German pretzels (and bread, and beer, and chocolate), and English tea.  Heather and I got to sample real, home cooked Romanian food when we stayed at a guesthouse in the mountains.  We even got to see the farm where lots of the food was produced (and perhaps a cousin to one of the animals we were eating, but I won't go into details!).  In a few of the hostels, Heather and I got to cook together and enjoy all the comforts of a home kitchen.

So there it is--no matter where you go, the two most important things in life truly are people and food. 

One last thing I wanted to note, I've been quite busy lately getting back into the swing of things ( I'd really like to get back into posting on a regular basis) so I missed the opportunity to say........happy first anniversary to the blog!  I can't believe it's been a year.  I've really enjoyed this project of mine, regardless of who continues to follow loyally, I love reflecting back on the fun things I've done and I think it's special to document so that I have it for the future.  And, just in time for the 1 year mark, last week our CSA delivery from the week prior was still hanging around, starting to wilt away in the fridge.  Thinking back to about a year ago, I remembered making a yummy "everything but the kitchen sink" type of soup.  I decided to make it again and then saw that indeed, it was almost a year to the day that I made this soup!

Thanks for taking this blog journey with me, I love having you along for the ride.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Wrapping Up Summer 2010

Although it is 90 degrees at 7:15pm, September is upon us.  I've had a wonderful summer, you won't find any complaints here--ok maybe I'll complain that it was really too hot and that I didn't get enough beach days, but other than that it was spectacular.  From short trips to Maine and Connecticut, to camping by the beach on Long Island, to spending time in my garden and my kitchen, it sure will be difficult to transition from Summer to Fall.

It's not only the seasons that are transitioning, I'm personally at a transition point, with Heather my very dear friend leaving our apartment to move back to San Fransisco and then on to the Peace Corps, Danielle and I are welcoming a new roommate and saying goodbye to another that we've felt grateful to build a home with.  Needless to say, I've felt particularly nostalgic and mushy lately.  At times like these, it's so nice to look back with gratitude and love for what you have in your life.

I'm certainly grateful for these lovely ladies, this picture comes from a benefit for POTS the organization Heather worked at for many years.

On that note, I'd like to do a quick round up of some things I've made and done this summer, things I'm so grateful to be able to do and experience.  There's no time for full recipes as I'm under the gun to get packing for a trip I'm taking (more on that later) so I'll just share some photos with you:

About a month ago, we hosted community dinner in our apartment and it was hot hot hot!  It was too hot to turn on the oven, so I made a lovely icebox cake--so easy and so delicious!!

For another community dinner, I made a yummy cake with molasses and blueberries!  So good if you love molasses and since it requires frozen blueberries, you can use any that you picked during the summer and froze for later, you'll love this--I might post the recipe later because it is just so good.

Also!  Book club turned one!!  That was back in June and we had a celebratory feast and a cake with all the fabulous ladies present.  Danielle and I hosted it here at our apartment and everyone had a great time.

Heather and I explored the entrances to old Native American caves in Inwood Hill Park on one of my vacation days from work, it was so fun!  There are still wild places on the island of Manhattan.

My garden is.....well it's still growing!!  I wish I could get over there more often, but it doesn't seem to mind too much.  Cucumbers are dead and gone but my tomatoes are finally starting to come in and our basil is still bushy!

Last night, neighbors hosted a birthday party for Ena, the woman who runs our community garden.  She turned 80, but you could have fooled me!  She doesn't look a day over 65 and I think it's all that time she spends busy in her garden.  I made chocolate zucchini cake!  It was yummy and moist, wouldn't even know that a vegetable was in it unless you made the cake yourself--a whole 3 cups of shredded zucchini....I wonder if it cancels out the eggs and sugar in there??

Well that's a pretty good recap of summer activities!  I'm on to my next adventure so I won't be writing again until the end of the month.  I'll be heading to Romania for about 10 days with Heather to revisit some places we volunteered during our time at Fordham.  After that we'll be meeting up with my friend Donna in Amsterdam.  Donna lives in Germany so she'll spend time with us in Amsterdam and then the 3 of us will travel together to spend a little time in Augsburg where she lives. 

Have a wonderful September and ease on into the transition to Fall.  The good news is that with any luck, we'll have an equally lovely summer season next year.