In the thick of joy and the slow drain of heartache, I bake. I've mentioned this before. Baking is my way. I tie on my apron and rustle up my inner domestic goddess and cope with the world. Because joy tastes sweeter shared with those you love, gathered around a clatter of plates and clinking glasses and spoons licked clean. And heartache...
Well, heartache may not be soothed or tamed by a cookie or slice of cake.
But it doesn't hurt to try.
As for me, I've been reading several (new to me) books this summer. And I suppose, if you were to analyze the connecting themes, you might discern a search not only for meaning in a sticky, complicated post 9/11 world, but also for release. Release from the grip of societal expectations, collective assumptions, and the yoke of consumerism (I am, after all, post estrogen dependence; priorities do not include miracle-push-up bras, nail polish decals, waxed nether regions or upper lip injections).
I am more interested in keeping my mind agile than my thighs firm.
Hence the books I'm reading. Newest (to me) is Buddha's Brain. I'm learning about the amazing plasticity of the mind, and the neuro-scientific practice of creating new "wiring" (especially as we age) by gently training our mind to release ancient, habitual (so often, negative and critical) thought patterns (what the PhDs call neural pathways but what I like to refer to as my teeth-grinding mental squirrel in a cage wearing my grandmother's wig) and cultivate more self compassion. Which in turn makes everyone happier, apparently.
I guess if you're feeling at peace with the energy ebb and sometimes tumultuous flow of your days and nights, and baking brownies with those surplus zucchinis, and watching the magical late afternoon sunlight dappling the backs of a pair of wild turkeys guiding their brood of nine into the blackberries below the kitchen window, you can feel pretty blissed out.
Or maybe it's the chocolate talking.
Karina's Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Zucchini Brownies RecipeRecipe posted August 2011.
These fudgy chocolate beauties are chock full of zucchini. Not that you'd ever know it. The taste is pure brownie. The texture is moist and dense.
1 cup almond meal or hazelnut meal
1 cup organic light brown sugar
3/4 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup unsweetened organic cocoa powder
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 organic free-range eggs, beaten
1/4 cup organic coconut oil
1 tablespoon Bourbon Vanilla Extract
1 cup packed shredded zucchini, patted dry
3/4 cup vegan dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup rough chopped pecans or hazelnuts
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line the bottom of a 9-inch square baking pan with a piece of parchment paper.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the almond meal, brown sugar, sorghum flour, cocoa powder, xanthan gum, baking powder, and salt.
Add in the eggs, coconut oil, and vanilla extract. Beat till smooth. Add in the shredded zucchini, dark chocolate chips (and chopped nuts, if adding).
Stir well to combine.
Using a flexible spatula-spoon scrape the brownie batter into the baking pan and spread it evenly.
Bake in the center of a preheated oven for 23 to 25 minutes until firm and set in the center. Do not over-bake if you like your brownies fudgy.
Cool the pan on a wire rack until it is cool enough to handle. Using a thin knife loosen the edges of the brownies from the sides of the pan and carefully remove the baked brownies to a wire rack to continue to cool.
Melty chocolate heaven, served warm from the oven.
Wrap and freeze leftover squares to preserve texture. Lovely chilled.
Cook time: 25 minutes
Yield: 16 brownies
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