Mississippi Mud Cookies

You know that family member who makes that one dish that’s always perfect? The thing everybody requests, season after season?

In my family, it was my grandmother, with her ooey-gooey Mississippi Mud cake. She’d make it for only very special occasions, and how did my family crow for it! A layer of thick chocolate cake covered with marshmallows, chocolate chips, walnuts, drenched in a divinity-sweet cocoa topping? Why, you’d’a crowed, too.

My grandmother, who we called Mawmaw, passed away last fall. To my knowledge she didn’t leave a recipe behind, but I think I came pretty close with these cookies.


Mawmaw’s Wide-as-the-Mississippi Mud Cookies


  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 1/2 cup best-quality, fair-trade cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 generous tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup vanilla or plain almondmilk (can use soy if you have nut allergies)
  • 2 tablespoons ground flax seeds
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup apple sauce
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon chocolate extract
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup Dandies mini marshmallows, plus extra for decorating
  • Baking sheets with parchment paper
    • I used a greased Silpat, here, but that’s unnecessary unless you have one. I was simply out of parchment paper.


In a large mixing bowl or stand mixer, combine almond milk, flax seeds, canola oil, apple sauce, sugar, vanilla, and chocolate extract. Mix thoroughly until smooth.

In another bowl, sift flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Use a dry whisk to aerate the mixture after sifting.

Pour dry into wet and combine well.

Add chocolate chips, walnuts, and mini marshmallows. Stir well.

Drop big spoonfuls of cookies on the sheet, leaving an inch or two of space between them. They will spread! You’ll be able to get about six cookies on an 18″ x 13″ half sheet. Dot with additional marshmallows.

Bake a sheet at a time for 10 minutes at 350. Let cool on baking sheet, on rack, for a few minutes before removing to rack to complete cooling.

Kitchen notes

If you love to bake, I recommend leveling up in the following ways:

  • Equipment. Head on over to a Restaurant Supply Store (or Webstaurant Store, if you don’t have one local) and buy:
    • 2 stainless steel 18″ x 13″ half sheet pans
    • 2 16″ x 24″ full size footed cooling racks
      • I’ve had mine for over a decade, used commercially as well as at home, and they still cook like I just got them.
  • Ingredients.
    • The best-quality, fair-trade, organic cocoa powder you can find. One, because you don’t want to use chocolate produced by slave labor. And two, you can truly taste a difference. Real cocoa is deeper, cleaner, more purely chocolate. I’ll say more on this in another post, but yes, home bakers, I can always tell when you used Hershey’s.
    • Chocolate extract. My little secret for brownies, chocolate frosting, and the like is a half a teaspoon of chocolate extract, added along with the vanilla. You’ll be surprised at the flavor boost.

Summer greens

Do you associate greens like collards, mustard, and kale with cooler weather? For a long time, I did. I leave my collards simmering on the stove for hours, steam cozying up the kitchen and doubling as a heating bill hero. I like to serve them alongside hearty casseroles and cornbread. And for as long as I can remember, I’ve heard brassicas taste best after bitten by a frost.

Just as Cookie Monster remains unconvinced that cookies are a sometimes food, so do I that we should confine greens to the bookends of the year. Let’s have greens in the summertime, too!

Here’s a light, colorful recipe that incorporates familiar summer flavors and gets us out of that hot kitchen fast.

Savory mustard greens with peppers and pintos


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 16oz bag washed and chopped of Mustard Greens* (I used Nature’s Greens)
  • 1 large red, orange, or yellow bell pepper, or a combination, chopped
  • 2 cups double-strength vegetable broth (this stuff is amazing!)
  • 1/2 – 1 cup cooked pinto beans, drained, and rinsed (canned is fine!)
  • 1/2 tsp ground white pepper
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • juice of half a lemon


  • Heat a large soup pot on medium/medium-high and add oil
  • Add onions and sauté 5-7 minutes, til soft, stirring often
  • Add garlic, sauté 30 seconds
  • Add peppers, sauté 1 minute
  • Pour in broth and bring to a strong simmer (just short of boiling)
  • Pour bag of mustard greens on top.
    • Note: Pot will be very full. It’s okay. Just put the lid on and leave at medium heat for 5-6 minutes. The greens will cook down to less than half their original volume.
  • Toss pintos on top. Stir thoroughly.
  • Let cook, covered, 10 minutes.
  • Season with pepper and sugar. Stir thoroughly.
  • Let cook two more minutes, simmering.
  • Turn off the heat and add the lemon juice. Stir well again. Serve!

Cool story: A serving of mustard greens has 180% of your daily vitamin A, 100% of your vitamin C, and 530% of your vitamin K. 😎

*You could also use collards, but I would recommend chopping them up a bit more finely before adding them to the pot, and simmering longer. Kale would work fine, too.



A soup for October

Friends, I have a pumpkin soup recipe for you that’s so good, it might make you forget the bread. It happened to me!

A picture of pumpkin soup with two small pumpkins, a spoon and a napkin.

Let me explain: I love bread. I especially love the carefully-made, artisan bread from the bakery around the corner. I like to toast it and slather it with spreads and enjoy it with coffee and tea.

And doesn’t it also go so well with soup? The firmness and crunch makes toast perfect for dipping; a crispy edge becomes meltingly tender when it kisses a creamy soup.

I popped a slice in my toaster, fully intending to enjoy it alongside. But then I made the mistake of sitting down and having a spoonful… and then another… and another… andanotherandanotherandanother until the bowl was nearly empty! My lonely slice languished in the toaster.

I guess the short version is: this perfect friend for fall is so good, you won’t miss the bread! Curried pumpkin and sweet potato join real maple syrup and peanut butter with just the right amount of spice from fresh jalapeño. It’s everything you want in a bowl of creamy comfort. I hope you love it!

Curried pumpkin and sweet potato soup
Serves 4 – 8, depending on appetite!



  • 2 tablespoons coconut, vegetable, or canola oil
  • One extra-large (or two medium) yellow or sweet onion, diced small (2 cups)
  • 2 cups carrots, chopped
  • 6 cups sweet potatoes, chopped (about 1 1/2 pounds)
  • 2 tbsp minced jalapeño (from one good-sized fresh jalapeño)
  • 1 tbsp freshly-minced ginger
  • 2 tbsp good-quality curry powder
  • 6 cups of flavorful, salted vegetable stock
    • (if unsalted, add 1 tsp salt to recipe, and more to taste)
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 15 ounce can pumpkin (no seasonings/holiday spices added! ingredients should be “pumpkin”)
  • 1 14 ounce can coconut milk, full-fat
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce (recipe can be made gluten-free if you use gluten-free tamari)
  • 2 tbsp freshly-squeezed lemon juice, from one medium lemon
  • optional: toppings: I used minced fresh chives and chopped peanuts in the picture above

Summary of some of the tools needed

A sharp knife; cutting board; gloves to wear while chopping jalapeño (trust me…); measuring cups and spoons; bowls for your mise en place (remember exercise zero?); a large pot; cooking spoon; a hand/immersion blender OR a blender


Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat.
Add onions and allow to cook over medium for about 5 minutes.
Add carrots and cook 5 more minutes.
Add sweet potatoes, mix well, cover, and cook 6 minutes.
Add jalapeño, ginger, and curry powder to the vegetables. Toss well to coat. Cook, covered, 1 minute.
Add six cups of stock to this mixture. Stir to make sure anything that might have stuck to the pan is scraped into the soup.
Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, and simmer 10 minutes.
In a measuring cup or bowl, combine the 1/2 cup of peanut butter with about a cup of hot broth from the soup. Mix vigorously with a fork or whisk. At first, the mixture may seem to separate – this is normal! But after thirty seconds or so, it should become creamy. Whisk or mix with a fork until the mixture is creamy.
Add peanut butter mixture, maple syrup, pumpkin, coconut milk, and soy sauce to the pot. Mix well.
Use an immersion (hand) blender* to carefully purée the soup until it is silky.
Add fresh lemon juice and stir to combine.
Allow soup to sit for about 10 minutes so flavors can combine. Serve!

*If you don’t have an immersion blender, wait until the soup has cooled and then carefully transfer, in batches, to a blender to be pureed. You’ll have to be careful and you’ll have to do several batches, but it is totally doable. Once everything is pureed, return to a pot and add the lemon juice. Return soup to warm serving temperature and serve!

It’s great served fresh, but if you can believe it, it tastes even better the next day!


Saturday mornings are for homemade waffles

So yesterday I made what feels like the weightiest career decision of my adult life. I’ll be ready to share the specifics on Tuesday afternoon, but for now, please know that your kind thoughts are very appreciated. I’m not intentionally trying to keep you in the dark, either – just waiting on things to be finalized. ❤️

To prepare for the big things to come, I got up early and set up my laptop, journal, and to-do list book. Right now I’m more anxious and scared than excited. When I feel this way, it’s helpful to remember all the many good things I have in my life: friends who care, a safe and comfortable home, food to eat, and so on. Writing it out makes it real.

Also, I just looked out to my porch to see two teensy black-capped chickadees enjoying some of the sunflower seeds I put out. They sang a little song and fluttered off. Nothing like a happy birdsong to make you feel like things are gonna be okay.

Or waffles, right?

A decent breakfast can go a long way with nerves.

Yesterday I was in a hurry and relied on some tasty boxed waffles, but Saturday mornings are for the real thing. Here’s a recipe. It feeds one extremely hungry person (even then, they’ll have leftovers) or two people happily. Since I’m flying solo this morning, I ate well.

Note: this recipe requires the use of a waffle maker. If you don’t already have one, I highly recommend it. An investment of $25 will feed you many, many, many brunches. And since waffles only take about a half hour to make, you’ll be inclined to make them more often than not. Just think about how many times you’ve gone out and spent $25 on a single brunch – once you count the mimosa, the sides, the fancy coffee. Treat yourself to a gift that will keep giving!

I have a cheapo Proctor Silex “My Morning Baker” that I bought off Amazon. The name makes me giggle.

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cornmeal
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 tablespoons sugar

1 cup soy milk
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp neutral oil (canola, veg)
1 tsp vanilla extract
Optional but recommended, if you have it: 2 drops maple extract


Preheat waffle iron.

In a small bowl, combine soymilk and apple cider vinegar. Whisk with a fork.

Place a sifter atop a mixing bowl and add dry ingredients. Sift well. If all ingredients do not totally sift, dump remnants into bowl from sifter. Use a wire whisk to aerate mixture.

Return to soymilk mixture. Add oil and extracts. Mix vigorously with fork.

Pour wet into dry and whisk to combine.

Cook according to your waffle maker’s instructions. I just spray canola oil on mine, pour in batter, close, and wait till the light clicks off.

Top per your preference, noting that it has a sweet and, if you use the maple extract, a gentle maple flavor as is. You may find it needs less than you expect! This one is also good for sandwiching things – a little veggie sausage, some tofu scramble… you get the idea.

Go forth and waffle!


Super quick creamy coconut chickpea curry

Recently I had some friends over for the first time for dinner and board games.


Ticket to Ride, in fact. Have you played? It’s one of the best!

I was pretty short on time, having worked that day, so I put together one of my favorite quick recipes: creamy coconut chickpea curry. I felt super guilty as they heaped praise upon me, because this is one of the quickest and easiest things I make! So quick and easy, in fact, that I threw it together on my lunch break today when I ran home to grab a few things I’d forgotten and needed at the office.


It’s also quite pretty!

I think it’s about time that I share this magic with you. You need only a handful of ingredients to eat well:


  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil (you can also use vegetable or canola)
  • 2 medium to large onions, chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small knob ginger, minced (optional but great)
  • 1.5 tablespoons spices – curry powder, chana/chhole mix, or your own blend (see below)
  • 3 cups of chickpeas
  • 1 28 oz can organic chopped tomatoes, partially drained
  • 1 14oz can organic full-fat coconut milk
  • salt to taste
  • juice of one lemon, or chaat masala (per instructions)
  • optional: squeeze of agave nectar or teaspoon of sugar for sweetness
  • optional: fresh methi (fenugreek) or cilantro, chopped
  • optional: a couple of pinches of red pepper flakes, for extra spice


You have three choices for the spice mix. If you have a standard curry powder on hand, feel free to use it. If you have an Indian market nearby, you can search the spice aisle for a packaged chana/chhole mix and use that, making sure to follow package instructions. Or you could make your own blend – I previously shared a nice spice mix from PPK in this post.

I usually make my own blend, but recently I picked up my first box of packaged spice mix and wanted to give it a try. Regardless of your choice, the instructions that follow will be the same. It’ll taste slightly different, of course, but still great!

To start, soften the onion in a large skillet, with a pinch of salt. Be sure to warm your pan first, then add the oil, then add the onions.



Next, Add the garlic and ginger (if using) and mix well, cooking over medium about a minute.

Now add the spices and toss well to coat:


Add the can of tomatoes, partially drained, and increase heat:


Add the chickpeas:


I used chickpeas that I’d prepared from dry. If you’re using canned, you’ll want two cans, drained and rinsed. If from a can, expect your chickpeas to be a little softer.

Add the can of coconut milk and mix well to thoroughly incorporate.


Let simmer on medium-high for about 10 minutes to reduce and thicken.

Add salt to taste. Start with a half of a teaspoon and go up in quarter-teaspoon increments til you get to a place you like. Taste, taste, taste!!

Add the juice of a whole lemon or, if you have it on hand, the chaat masala. It’s a blend of salts and spices that will give your dish a tangy taste. Ingredients are listed below to the right:


If you find you need a little sweetness, add in a bit of agave nectar. You could also use a teaspoon of organic sugar or coconut palm sugar. Again, very flexible!


For a little something extra, add chopped fenugreek (fresh methi leaves) or chopped cilantro.

Play around with the finished dish adding this or that to your taste: a little more salt, sweet, spicy, sour. This is a great way to learn more about your taste and the way flavors play together. Don’t be afraid to be a little adventurous.


This dish keeps very well in the fridge for about a week. Some say it even tastes better the next day!

Instructions re-cap (so easy!!):

  • Warm the pan
  • Warm the oil
  • Add onions and a pinch of salt
  • Soften/brown the onions (about 10 minutes)
  • Add the garlic and ginger
  • Add the spices, stir to coat onions
  • Add the tomatoes
  • Add the chickpeas
  • Add the can of coconut milk
  • Simmer 10mins to thicken
  • Add salt, taste for salt
  • Add the lemon or chaat masala
  • Taste of salty, sweet, spicy, sour and adjust as needed by adding more salt, sugar or agave, cayenne or red pepper flakes, lemon, etc.
  • Optional: add fresh fenugreek leaves or cilantro

Serve on rice! Play a board game! Be happy.


LPTHW: Exercise 3: Numbers and Math and caramelized onions

I use math a lot in my daily life. I’ve managed complicated budgets for several businesses (including my current job) and have been doing my own taxes (accurately!) for over a decade. Most of the time I’m in the grocery store I’m running numbers, determining sale prices, calculating total costs. Same goes for the kitchen — frequently I’m altering recipes, which requires an ability to do conversions on the fly.

Yet, when I saw that this exercise was about “numbers and math”, I froze. Numbers and math! It must be some basic, primal fear coming out. I’m glad I didn’t let it stop me:


Not so scary!

In the extra credit, Zed asks us to go back and comment out each line, explaining what is happening:


The only thing that tripped me up was modulus. In Zed’s words: “Another way to say it is, ‘X divided by Y with J remaining.’ For example, ‘100 divided by 16 with 4 remaining.’ The result of % is the J part, or the remaining part.” Okay.

He also has us start Python and use it as a calculator. I didn’t do anything too fancy:


Next up, he has us write another little .py file that does some math. I couldn’t figure out anything I needed to determine, so I just made something up.


I counted some hypothetical fruit. I’m looking forward to covering variables because I think it would have made my little example easier to write.

Finally, he stressed the importance of using “floating numbers” so I went back and re-wrote my little program to use them. Accuracy wasn’t an issue with this example, but it might be in the future, so floating point numbers seem like a good idea.

For today’s cooking basics lesson, I’m covering caramelized onions. Yesterday I made a pot of my favorite fordhook lima beans. The secret to their deliciousness is a generous base of caramelized onions.


Caramelizing means cooking over low-ish heat for a long time in order to brown the naturally-occurring sugars in the onions. The formerly pearly-white cubes are transformed into a rich golden-brown (or deeper!) color with a rich, savory-sweet flavor.


Start by uniformly chopping onions. A lot of folks go for long thin slices, but I wanted cubes. The small pieces look better than strands in the finished dish.

Warm or melt your fat of choice over medium heat. I used Earth Balance margarine, but you could also use coconut oil or olive oil.

Add the onions.

Stir to thoroughly coat onions with fat.

After 10 minutes on medium heat. Use a stiff, well-made spatula to scrape up the bits of browning goodness.

After 20 minutes on medium heat.

Scrape scrape. After thirty minutes on medium. I turned it down to medium low.

Forty minutes…

One hour.

What a difference a little time and heat makes! I did not add any salt, sugar, or liquids to enhance the caramelization process.

If you’re making a soup or a pot of beans, at this point you simply add other ingredients and simmer until fully cooked. As I mentioned above, I used fordhook lima beans and simmered them until the broth formed a kind of rich oniony gravy. A perfect dinner!


LPTHW: Exercise 2: Comments and Chana Masala

Exercise two is about comments. I already knew how to comment out code, so this was an easy one.


Zed explains that comments are important because they give you a way to explain, in plain English, what something does. Comments help future readers of your code understand what’s going on. They also permit you to disable parts of your program if you need to.

Comments in Python use the hash character (#, octothorpe), but today I learned that other languages use other symbols. I noticed this while reading Erik Dietrich’s post “Rapid Fire Craftsmanship Tips“. He gives a very specific example of when a certain type of comment is not so helpful.

Taking time to document what I’m doing helps with the learning process — it makes things “stick”. This is exactly why Zed often suggests that we go back and write comments around seemingly easy exercises. It can feel tedious, but I still do it.

In related news, “Very” Early Bird tickets for PyTennessee opened today and I got one! $50 for an earlybird ticket for a two-day conference is a steal, especially if I can find a couch to sleep on for the weekend. Hopefully I’ll be pretty far along in my journey by next February and will learn a lot from the experience.

Today is October first and in the spirit of my favorite month of the year I want to share one of my favorite recipes: chole (chana) masala. It’s one I love to make for crowds and dinner parties because it always pleases. I also enjoy preparing it for sick friends as it keeps exceptionally well, actually improving the longer it sits in the fridge (up to a point!). It is a variation of the recipe shared here. Let me know if you have any questions.Chana masalaIngredients:

  • 1/4 cup coconut oil (unrefined works)
  • 1 very large yellow onion, thinly sliced (sweet onions also work — I’ve had great luck with giant vidalias)
  • 1 small jalapeno or other hot pepper, seeded and minced (wear gloves!)
  • 1 1/2 heaping tablespoons minced fresh garlic
  • 1 heaping tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1/4 – 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro (omit if averse)
  • 2 28 oz cans diced organic tomatoes in juice, undrained (no basil or seasonings added)
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt (add more to taste if your tomatoes are unsalted, but most are salted)
  • 3 1/2 – 4 cups cooked chickpeas
  • 1 tablespoon agave nectar
  • Juice of one small lime or 2 teaspoons tamarind concentrate
  • 1/2 cup coconut cream
  • Post Punk Kitchen spice blend
    • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon ground cumin
    • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
    • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
    • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, chopped
    • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
    • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne (add more or less to taste)

Please note that in this and any recipe, it’s incredibly important to use fresh, fragrant spices for the best-possible dish. I’ll cover proper storage of spices in a later post, but for now: if your spices smell like sawdust, they’ll probably taste that way, too. Toss ’em and invest in something new.


Preheat one of your largest pans or pots over medium heat. I use a large, heavy-bottomed pan because I have one and it helps the tomatoes cook down faster, but if you don’t, you can use a large pot.

Make your spice blend by combining spices in a bowl and whisking with a fork or small whisk.

When the pan is hot, add coconut oil. Allow it to warm. Add the onion (you should hear it sizzle) and cook about ten minutes. Onion will become soft and golden, and depending on how hot your pan is, may brown some. You may elect to leave the onions mostly undisturbed, or give them a good toss every few minutes or so. Just don’t burn them!

After about ten minutes, add the hot pepper, garlic, and ginger all at once, and stir constantly for about 30 seconds to a minute. Add the spice blend and stir constantly for about another minute. Make sure the onion-pepper-garlic-ginger mixture is thoroughly coated.

Add the tomatoes and mix well, scraping the bottom of the pan to get all that sauteed goodness. Add salt and chickpeas. Cover the pan and raise heat to medium-high, but once it has reached a strong simmer, uncover. Reduce heat to medium. Allow to simmer enthusiastically for about twenty minutes, stirring every few minutes or so. Be mindful of the heat – you don’t want anything to burn. The point is to get the tomatoes to cook down so that the dish is thick and saucy rather than watery.

Once it’s reached a good consistency, stir in about a half a cup of coconut cream. You can use more. Creaminess is wonderfulness.

Adding my secret ingredient - the coconut cream!

Adding my secret ingredient – the coconut cream!


Adding the tamarind

Add the lime or tamarind and agave nectar. Taste for seasonings and adjust as necessary. Add cilantro if using. Remove from heat and allow to sit for about ten minutes.

Thanks to Isa and Terry at the Post Punk Kitchen for inspiring me with this recipe.