Tag Archives: pregnancy cravings

Needs

Cinnamon-Coconut Chocolate Chunk Cookie 4

The word need has a rather bouncy personality. It skip-hops from require to oblige to desire to demand, and slips toward want, that most evil cousin, and back again.

It’s no accident that need is a four-letter word—it’s a dangerous one to use. If I had my way, we’d have as many words for need as the Eskimos have for snow. Because really, the way we have it set up now, need is sorely overworked. There are simply too many kinds of needs.

There are the real ones, of course, the requirements: Children need love. My plants need water.

There are the complaints, superficial and serious: I need a new haircut. We need a new president.

There are the certainties: Our car needs new struts for the back hatch so it doesn’t fall on my head again.

There are the obligations: I need to go to the store; we’re almost out of milk.

Then, there are the dreams: I need a garden that actually gets some sun.

But it seems like the more serious the subject, the more inadequate the word becomes. Talk about real needs, and it gets a lot more useful to skip the four-letter and go for cynicism: I bet all of Gaza could use a good nights’ sleep. Or, Please send my leftovers to Africa. Someone might be hungry there.

Me? I don’t have needs, on that scale. I’ve never known a single one. I put on nice mittens and go from my heated office to my heated car to my heated gym, where I have to make time for exercise because someone else grows my food, finds my fuel, and pumps my water. Then I come home and complain, because I have so many interesting things to think about that I can’t do them all. My lifestyle—and yours, I daresay, if you’re here reading about food instead of outside looking for it—hardly provides an excuse to use that word at all.

But we do, just the same, because there’s only one need.

So please, friends, don’t think I’m ignoring the world’s privations and emergencies when I say that yesterday, in my infinitely small, overly charmed, sometimes completely shallow world, I needed a cookie.

You understand, don’t you? It happens to everyone. In fact, there should be a word for the very needing of a slightly crunchy, chocolaty treat, just as there should be a different word for needing milk when it’s cookie that has been smashed and smeared into all the little crevices in your mouth, and not, say, brownie. Need just doesn’t have enough letters to do the job.

But need I did. And far be it from me to deny anything to the unborn.

Cookies have needs, too; like people, they’re all different. No one likes a soggy cookie. Not many people like them charred, either. But beyond that, it’s all up to interpretation.

My cookies have a very specific needs list: The chocolate must come in chunks, not chips, all the better for smearing across the bottom lip when still just a bit warm. There must be some whole wheat, to present the allusion of a feigned interest in the overall health of the cookie. (There will be no questions asked when others bake, however.) Unless there’s been a particularly cookie-less stretch, they also require more intrigue than just the chocolate—some orange peel, or a bit of some spice or another, and yes, most definitely—okay, always—something just a little crunchy. I also like them high and almost shortbread-ish, rarely flat and spread out.

And for God’s sake, they don’t need to be baked all at once, when you’re likely to move on to a different project and burn one batch. I always bake one sheet at a time, and freeze the rest, in little balls, so that I can bake just a few for days on end, when I need them most, and eat them right after the chocolate has ceased to pose a burn threat, but before it actually solidifies.

Yesterday’s crisis came on fast, but I should have seen it coming. (There’s another word—crisis. In the news, it’s a euphemism for undeclared war. Is there a word for an urgent-yet-peaceful food crisis? Something more serious than just a plain old craving?)

Anyway. My cousin reported eating too much oatmeal cookie batter, and I listened, and wanted some. I made triple chocolate chunk oatmeal cookies with coconut flakes back east, and their memory followed me home. Then, this week, the New York Times reposted a story called The 11 Best Foods You Aren’t Eating, and in fourth position, they printed cinnamon, and something about controlling blood sugar and cholesterol and sprinkling a bit on your oatmeal.

Here, I should point out that maybe Sarah Palin is right about the state of today’s liberal elite media. There was not one mention—not one—of putting cinnamon into chocolate chunk cookies. If that’s not journalistic bias, I don’t know what is.

Some days, you just have to do everything yourself.

So smack-dab in the middle of moving my files downstairs (beware, the nursery prep has started!), I tilted back the KitchenAid’s head, dropped a couple sticks of butter down the hatch (KitchenAids have cravings, too, right?), and got going.

And oh, yes, they hit the spot. In fact, I think today, I need another.

One more thing. If you live in Seattle, and depend regularly on the farmers’ markets (or if you’ve ever bought a piece of Washington produce), take a second to remember that a lot of your favorite farms are under water right now. A bunch of small donations to the Good Farmer Fund might help someone get through the winter. And really. If that’s not a need, what is?

Cinnamon-Coconut Chocolate Chunk Cookie 3

Cinnamon-Coconut Chocolate Chunk Cookies (PDF)

The truth: What makes these cookies great, besides the big hunks chocolate (of course), is the millet, which creates little bursts of crunchiness in the final product. But no one seems to like the sound of “millet cookies.” So keep it a secret, if you must—but I love it. Look for small, yellow millet grains in the bulk foods aisle of a good natural grocer. (If your partner dares say anything about birdseed, simply accuse him or her of a lack of vision and deny future cookies. Worked for me.)

ACTIVE TIME: 25 minutes
MAKES: About 40 2” cookies

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 cups lightly packed sweetened coconut
1/2 cup millet (uncooked)
1/2 pound bittersweet (70%) chocolate, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two heavy baking sheets with parchment paper, and set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or using a hand-held electric mixer), cream the butter and both sugars on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time on low speed, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla, and mix again.

Meanwhile, whisk both flours, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, coconut, and millet together in a medium bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture about a third at a time, mixing on low speed until just combined between additions, and scraping the bottom of the bowl clean when necessary. Fold in the chocolate chunks.

Drop the dough by heaping spoonfuls (a 1 1/2-inch ice cream scoop works perfectly) about 2” apart on the baking sheets. Bake 12 to 15 minutes for cookies the size of a walnut, 14 to 17 minutes for cookies the size of a golf ball, or until the edges are lightly browned and just beginning to crack. (The cookies will not spread much, so roundish dough portions work better than lumpy ones.) Cool the cookies on sheets for 5 minutes, and transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Cinnamon-Coconut Chocolate Chunk Cookie 6

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Filed under Cookies, recipe

The Chickpea Chronicles

Wolf chickpea salad 1

I have news for you:

I am going to give birth to a chickpea.

I’m not actually kidding. I’m pregnant, due in May, and I have blood tests that prove that the person growing inside me will come out with a can opener in his or her tiny little hand, because instead of breast milk, this baby will only be eating chickpea salad. At least, that’s the trend thus far.

I know. I should have told you earlier.

But it was so boring early on, in the food department: Toast. Saltine crackers. Cereal. More toast. More crackers. More cereal. Rice pudding. Saltines in bed. Saltines on the sheets, and in my husband’s hair. Dog jumping on the bed, snorting saltine dust. Toast.

Around here, you’ve seen an awful lot of desserts recently, if you hadn’t noticed. That’s because meat and I have not been friends. In fact, food and I have not been great friends, and for me, that’s sad. I thought I’d never meet a Bolognese I didn’t like, but I did, twice, and I can’t talk about it yet.

But all that nonsense seems to be over, finally. (Whoever said nausea ends at 12 weeks is full of shit. Try 15.)

But back to beans.

If they’re at all gussied up, I can down a can of chickpeas – garbanzo beans, whatever you want to call them – in a single sitting. Like now, at 10:17 a.m, when I’ve already had a piece of toast, an egg, and a smoothie for breakfast. In fact, I’m beginning to consider myself something of a chickpea salad expert.

Let me enlighten you.

The average chickpea salad takes four to six minutes to make. This takes into consideration my simplest version (and the one I make most often), which takes just under one minute, if I can find the can opener quickly – it’s just chickpeas, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper – and the luxe version, which requires boiling water for some sort of grain, chopping herbs, and getting out a proper bowl and perhaps, in a moment of leisure, a napkin.

Chickpea, cucumber, olive, and goat cheese salad

But yes, on average, I’d say four to six minutes. The version that was in the bowl in front of me just moments ago was a good proxy of my typical mid-morning snack. I mixed a can of rinsed, drained chickpeas with chopped cucumber, cilantro, and olives, plus the juice of half a Meyer lemon and some olive oil, salt and pepper. I crumbled in a handful of goat cheese, and stirstirstirred until it melted into a dressing, which meant chickpea salad bound by a silky white sauce that really probably wasn’t meant to fall into the little indentation between the space key and the raised framing on my Mac laptop. (No, silly, that’s for your thumb.)

The most exotic salad, thus far, was very misleading. I went to a party recently where we were all instructed to bring a favorite dish from childhood. Tea brought tuna noodle casserole (with peas, of course). Shauna made tomato soup, updated with chipotle peppers and red lentils. Traca brought homemade salted peanut butter caramel ice cream, and a chocolate version made with coconut milk, which must have been meant as a stand-in for ice cream in general, unless I missed that her mother is related to Martha Stewart. Barbara brought Oreos and milk, and Megan (I think!) brought rice krispy treats. (Just try spelling that with a “c.”)

But me? I brought the chickpea salad I made a couple weeks ago, which was based on the salad at How to Cook a Wolf. Not because I loved chickpeas as a child. (In fact, I refused to try them, because my friend Sari loved them, and how could I possibly have liked something she liked?)

No. I brought the salad because I couldn’t imagine getting through the afternoon without chickpeas.

Brandon's chickpea salad

And what did I find, there on the buffet table? Another chickpea salad. Apparently Brandon really did have a chickpea childhood. His salad seemed plain enough – to the naked eye, why, it was just a bunch of legumes, looking shiny in a bowl. But they were dressed with some combination so close to Caesar salad – with great olive oil, Parmesan cheese, and plenty of garlic – that I stubbornly refused to ask him what he’d put in the mix, lest he dared mention a raw egg out loud, and Hey, aren’t you pregnant? Should you be eating that? squeaked out from someone across the room. I made that one again, too, but (sigh) without the egg he may or may not have used. (I am such a wuss.)

And yes, about about that chickpea salad from Wolf? Oh, people, it gets better. Mix that one with 3/4 cup cooked orzo pasta, juice of another half a lemon, another glug of olive oil, and 1/2 cup crumbled feta, and you’ve got an eat-over-the-sink-til-it’s-gone-able pasta salad.

Chickpeas with olives, sdt, feta, quinoa

Then there are the warm versions, which may take slightly longer: A red quinoa and chickpea salad, with feta, sundried tomatoes, olives, and corn. That one was for a party, too, but by the time my spoon found it, it was only mostly for a party.

Chickpea, broc, bell pepper salad

Then there was a warm one where I sautéed onions, red bell pepper, and broccoli, and added the chickpeas with a touch of cumin and apple cider vinegar. That one was delicious, but not as shovelable as the others. I actually had leftovers, that time.

So yes, thank you for asking, I am especially thankful for something this year. I’m thankful for this little chickpea, even if it does make me cry at Walmart commercials. (Yup, you’re right. I don’t own a television. It happened at my gym, right there on the elliptical machine.)

I’m thankful for you, too, dear reader. It’s nice to have you along.

I can’t promise that hogwash won’t change in the months to come. I’ve always written about life, and if there’s one certain way to make life change, we’ve smack dabbed ourselves into the middle of it.

I will promise, though, that I will eventually move beyond chickpeas.

At least, I do hope so.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Chickpea, Quinoa, and Feta Salad

Red Quinoa, Chickpea, and Feta Salad (PDF)

TIME: 20 minutes
MAKES: 8 to 12 servings

1 1/3 cups red quinoa (white works just as well)
1 cup chopped Kalamata olives
1/4 cup chopped sundried tomatoes (the kind packed in oil)
3/4 cup corn kernels (from a large cob, or cooked frozen corn)
1 1/4 cups crumbled feta cheese (from a 7-ounce brick)
2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/3 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Cook the quinoa in water according to package instructions. (You should have about 3 1/2 cups cooked quinoa.) Transfer to a large mixing bowl, and stir in the remaining ingredients, through parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve at room temperature.

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Filed under gluten-free, recipe, salad, side dish, vegetables