Sierra’s learned how to say ‘cookie’ – and knows what the word means – so all I can think is: I’m in for it now. Still, as her current favorite thing seems to be bananas (‘nana!’) and she had lentils and cauliflower for dinner tonight, I think she can indulge in a nibble or two of the occasional sweet treat. Especially when the temperature here in the Kingdom is pushing 100 degrees F in March; we could all use a little reward for getting through the day. In other non-news, I’ve been oddly craving pancakes for dinner the past few days but have ‘settled’ for quinoa with beets and greens and tahini sauce with a chaser of a plate of flourless chocolate chip cookies. Pancakes tomorrow maybe.
[Riyadh from the trail/Post-sunrise miles, March 2015.]
I’ve been getting up early to run and it’s wonderfully quiet and calm during those post-sunrise miles along the trail. Last week there was a fairly big rainstorm that tamped down the dust and blew out all the sand haze long enough for me to take that photo above. Seeing the city rising out of the dunes gives me a new appreciation for the intrepid human desire to create — after all, if you think about it, it’s rather improbable that people should be living permanently in a desert. And this is definitely desert, despite the lovely trees and green spaces in our neighborhood watered by a combination of aquifer and desalination — I rarely forget they don’t grow naturally and require cultivation. North Africa’s jumble of riotous and overgrown plants that spilled over walls and broke up sidewalks seemingly overnight is a distant memory. Gone is the humidity that caused the paint to fall in great chunks from the unseaworthy walls of our house in Casablanca. Here, I’ve finally relented and turned on the air conditioning and have become the water pusher of the household to make sure we all stay hydrated.
When in Saudi Arabia …
Tonight I have the Kate Rusby itunes station playing, my girlie went to bed early (allowing me a few stolen hours to use as I please), I’ve set my alarm for 6:20 tomorrow morning so I can hit the trail, somehow my cavernous house has reached the perfect temperature of just-cool-enough, and I have a cup of rooibos tea lightened a bit with soy milk plus a few cookies to keep me company ’til DW returns from a business trip. Underneath the celtic fiddle is the echo of the final call to prayer of the final day of March and if you’d asked me two years ago if I’d ever become used to that sound I’d never have believed it. But things change; not only do I not mind it I almost look forward to the sounds that serve as little markers of the day and which let me know about what time it is without my having to look at a watch.
I baked these chocolate chip cookies in February and photographed them on the lovely old marble(ish) counters in my Casa kitchen. I miss those counters (though not the ants). I am nostalgic looking at these images tonight because my new kitchen is much less picturesque – alas! – though still quite functional, which is the main thing. Instead of waving to Missy the white horse and Rachid her nice driver as we eat breakfast we say ‘hi’ to the nice gardener who comes by daily to sweep up the leaves and water the scraggly grass outside the kitchen window. Some things I miss and some things I don’t and that’s how life goes.
These cookies, by the way, disappear quickly. They’re based on my standard chocolate chip cookie recipe, which owes its deep and delicious flavor to a combination of melted butter and brown sugar. For this flourless version I’ve done a blend of oat, brown and white rice, and almond flours with a touch of flaxseed to update them to be naturally gluten-free. That they’re loaded with whole grains is an extra bonus.
If/when my air shipment comes I’m going to try using 50 percent (or maybe even 100 percent) maple syrup in place of the brown sugar and tinker with the recipe a bit more to accommodate. But really these need no changes; they are pretty perfect as-is.
Gluten-free Whole Grain Chocolate Chip Cookies
If you don’t need to keep gluten-free, substitute 2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour or 2 cups a-p flour and 2/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour for the gluten-free flours and omit the flax seed, which works as a binder for the more delicate flours.
Makes about 3 doz. cookies
1 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 cups (packed) light or dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups (gluten-free) oat flour
2/3 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup sweet white rice flour
1/4 almond meal
1 teaspoon ground flax seeds
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
Heat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk and stir together the melted butter and brown sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Add the vanilla and stir well to combine. In another large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and gradually stir into the sugar mixture. Fold in the chocolate chips. Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto the prepared cookie sheets.
Place in the oven and bake for 8 to 10 minutes until slightly browned. Remove from oven and allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
Note: I use a whisk to mix together first the butter, sugar, and eggs, and it really helps make that batter nice and smooth. I also use it when I add the dry ingredients but after that, just a wooden spoon is needed. I think you can make the batter in about six minutes, tops.