Tuesday, December 23, 2008

the comfort of curry and other reasons it's all in your head

As the holidays crash down on us with the same force as the economy, I have decided to declare December National Hangover Month in the UK. It seems everywhere people are complaining about the day-after-blues before heading out to their next “do” where they lusciously intend to partake in another lovely round of more of the same.

In my kitchen, there’s a lot going on: a lot of brainstorming, preparation, much chopping, a taste here, a spoonful there. I’m so full and Christmas is still a couple of days away…

Somehow, in my mini microcosm, there is a myth that I don’t indulge or succumb to the same weaknesses as others... People are forever telling me that they feel bad, that their bodies must be intolerant to some food or another, but that they can’t be bothered to figure it out.
“I don’t have your willpower” is what I hear most often.

I disagree. Mostly because when it comes to willpower, almost anything can make me lose control -- from roast chicken to chocolate cake – I’ve been known to eat myself silly on foods that are considered good, safe, allowed, like hummus or almonds or raspberries. Because as I have too often been reminded from personal experience:even so-called healthy foods transform into damaging ones when overeaten.

In the end it’s about what makes us feel good. And if something makes you feel bad enough, you’ll stop loving it as much. Do I miss bread? Oh God yes. Do I yearn for cheese? Mmmm -- the stinkier, the better. Am I willing to put up with being in bed for three days afterwards, my eyes swollen to the size of golf balls, my stomach cramping and unbearably hard, my head throbbing like a never-ending whiskey hangover?

Nothing is worth losing that much time over, not even the greatest of Stinking Bishops.

A few days ago, we went round to friends for tea. They had baked sweet, gorgeous walnut banana bread – a beautiful blond loaf of goodness that smelled divine and, judging from D’s three slices, tasted even better. (As I eat vicariously through him at times like these, three slices sound about right). Even though our friends apologized for not having baked something I could eat, and even though I honestly assured them that I expected nothing of the sort and that it was fine – which it really and truly was – by the time we got home, I was in the mood to indulge.

So we ordered curry.

I love curry.

Honestly, London has many faults, but it almost makes up for them with its curries. This specific place is South Indian, so most cooking is done with coconut rather than Ghee*. In my opinion, there’s nothing like the creamy, pungent spice of a great curry on a cold, dark night. I usually get mine with a paper dosha, a very thin, flat, savoury pancake made of rice flour. It sops up the curry sauce like paper towel does spilled milk. Though I haven’t yet perfected the left-handed mop as is customary in Kerala, with the help of a spoon, the combination of spicy coconut chutney and sambar, a lentil and vegetable side masala, are divine.

Since we returned from the wedding, I have put on one stone. A whole stone, fourteen pounds, almost six-and-a-half kilograms. Sure, there’s the fact that I ate a cupcake a day in New York, and then there’s the whole hypothyroid thing. But come on, a couple of weeks of baked goods and a little T4 slo-mo can’t possibly be that bad, can it? Still, it seems those extra bulges want to stay put. As the holidays approach, I have gone from acceptance to desperation and back again; with the hiccups of the purchase and sale of abodes kicking my comfort-eating mechanisms into high gear.

I have never dieted in my life. I have spent my entire life on a diet.

Both of those sentences are completely correct. In translation: while I have never followed any of the fads – Atkins, The Zone, etc – I don’t think I have ever put a bite of food in my mouth without attempting to calculate the calories and / or effect said morsel would have on the scales.

So what to do?

Last week, I figured out that the only ingredient I have added back since the wedding has been flour. Not the usual whole wheat versus white flour. In my life, it’s brown rice flour, chickpea flour, sometimes (rarely) corn flour – which is why I had been eating it every single day: since it wasn’t wheat, I had somehow decided that it didn’t count.

But I have discovered this week that flour is flour is flour. The way I did it was to remove it from my diet. Not forever, not even for a week. I did not eat flour for five days. Tuesday to Saturday. Just to see what would happen.

The change was remarkable.

I should be used to this by now, having banished and reinstated so many foods over the years. But I’m not, and I don’t think I’ll ever be. Doing such a simple test is like taking a black pen to a clear, white board, and drawing an endless loop right smack in the middle, starting small and going bigger and bigger – the repercussions of one small decision reverberating into so many others -- or the opposite, going from large, loopy lines and ending up in a single, simple point.

Which is what this is: a single, very simple point.

Within about forty-eight hours of removing flour, I felt as if someone had stuck a pin in me, let out the bloat, like air from a balloon. The doughy feeling was gone, as was the sag in my face. I woke up in the morning with enough energy to do the basic yoga stretches that I had become too lazy to do over the past couple of months.

Again, I’m surprised at how surprised I am. But mostly, I’m surprised at how quickly I forgot.

In the past, this would have been cause to strictly remove all flour, dough, batter from my life forever. But not this time.

Last night, nothing could have warmed my belly, or comforted my aching soul as much as that curry. This morning, I’m feeling the weight of the paper dosha, heavy with aromatic herbs and coconut milk. The stretches didn’t happen when I woke up around eleven – an inconceivable hour when I’m at my usual energy levels.

I feel it in every part of me, from my fingers, which are bloated and stiff (of course the salt-content didn’t do me any favours), to my distended belly, to my cheeks and neck, slackened like my brain.

Does this mean I’ll never eat curry again, that the paper dosha will be relegated to my already overextended list of foods I don’t eat in an attempt to feel, look and live better?


Even with all the after-effects, it was still a wonderful meal. I felt happy and sated afterwards, and I enjoyed watching a movie with my wonderful husband. The truth is that although it didn’t help in the long run, the curry didn’t hurt so much either. I’m up and about today, and almost, if not fully functioning. And it served a whole other purpose, nourished many different parts of my being, parts that aren’t any less important than my grumbling belly.

Next time, however, I’ll go into it with more information, open eyes, ready to complain the next day even before I place my order.

How I love a good curry.

* Ghee is clarified butter so out of bounds.

Chicken Masala:
(serves 2 good eaters with leftovers)
* 1 T chicken masala (this is a mixture of herbs including chili, turmeric, cumin, cinnamon, star anise, nutmeg, clove, mace and fenugreek. I brought half a kilo back with me from India)
* 1 T coconut butter
* coconut milk
* 3 small onions or 1 -2 large ones chopped coarsely
* 2 T sugar-free tomato sauce (preferably one that is comprised of just tomatoes)
* 1 t orange blossom water
* Small handful of raisins
* 3 tomatoes
* 2 chicken breasts, cut into roughly even chunks

In a pot, melt the coconut butter.
Once it is melted, add 1 T chicken masala mix (add more or less, depending on level of spice desired - this mixture is quite spicy)
When the spices start to rise to the surface of the hot oil, add the onions.
Lower the heat and allow to simmer for a few minutes (add a little coconut milk if needed). Then add the tomato sauce, the rest of the coconut milk and then the orange blossom water.
Raise the flame and bring to a boil.
Lower the flame to a simmer.
As the mixture is simmering, add the tomatoes and the raisins -- this is to taste: tomatoes help make the dish less spicy and raisins add a touch of sweetness.
Throw the chicken pieces in. Stir them in well and raise the heat a touch if necessary so the mixture is properly boiling again. The chicken should be ready within 10-12 minutes.
(would probably be great with a little chive yoghurt to counter the spice, but very much optional)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Something For Everyone

I love Christmas, mostly, I think, because I didn’t grow up with it. I have no bad memories, no traumas of tedious neighbours with terrible carolling voices or trees catching fire. Christmas, for me, has no traditions that require upholding, no Things We Do despite the fact that everyone has outgrown them.

No, all of those sentiments in my life are reserved for the customs practiced by the “Chosen People,” of which I am one. The Jewish Holidays are numerous and filled to bursting with generations of baggage strapped to my back like the memory-mule I sometimes feel I am.

Passover, with the endless wait to eat cardboard-like “bread” (Matzo) and then, finally, the gritty dumplings in tasteless broth; Rosh Hashana with its fish-head staring at you to remind you to start the year at the front, not the back (as if we need reminding to start at the beginning!); Yom Kippur, the day we supposedly atone for our sins but which we instead spend dreaming of food.

For me, Christmas has none of that.

Though I did grow up in a Catholic country (Belgium), I was for the most part unaware of St Nick et al, other than the very basics that is - the white beard, etc. - which are hard to miss. I have no recollection of any of the things I have come to look forward to as a newly minted, Christmas-celebrating adult. Our little ten-block Jewish microcosm was instead inundated with potato pancakes, dreidels and songs about another miracle for the Jews (Superpower, 0, Poor Little Minority, 1 more). Hanukkah was better than Christmas, we were told each December, because at Hanukkah children received one present every night for eight days, while Christmas was only one.

Now that I have had a couple of decades to reflect on this, it has become apparent that, environmental and waste issues aside, while it is factually true that Hanukkah lasts longer, often one well-considered prezzie is so much more enjoyable than eight throwaway trinkets. D and I have been breaking our heads for weeks now about what to buy for our loved ones. The goal is quite straightforward: budget, appropriate, something they wouldn’t necessarily get for themselves but would like to if they had extra cash lying around. Because what’s the point of purchasing unwanted, superfluous crap? I have to admit, the whole process can a bit nerve-wracking.

A year ago, at the penultimate minute, it was decided that we would be hosting Christmas. The only thing we had done in advance was put up fairy lights (the English and their sparkly little bulbs - D goes mad for them). We ordered the very last goose the farmer had in stock, and bought our tree when there were only a few left. The ornaments came from the final reductions bowl at the tree place, fifty-cent snowmen scavenged and saved in the moments before Christmas truly descended and the country shut down.

D’s parents flew down to London. We cooked (of course), we stuffed stockings, we ate too much and drank great wine. We went to a musical on Boxing Day and made plans for how wonderful the coming year was going to be, how often we would be getting together - last year, a lot of our conversations were also focused on the wedding... At that point it still seemed miles away.

Now here we are again, the wedding has passed and we’re back to where we were at this time twelve months ago: preparing to stuff – birds, oversized socks, and ourselves – tear open gifts, profusely thank one another and revel in options like midnight mass and mulled wine.

For me, it’s all fun. None of it means much, no matter how hard I try to attach some kind of symbolism to it. It’s merely another excuse to all get together, whomever all is that day, week, occasion. But there are no potato latkes, no candles in our window – unless you count those horrible bloody fairy-lights. I am unfamiliar with the songs people sing, and, unlike in my heritage, there is no chocolate money to be made from spinning a four-sided-spinning-top. Christmas is completely void of history for me. Still, I go along with it; I allow myself to get swept up in the frenzy and the plans, the must-dos, must-haves, the must-remembers. It is all part of my life now; and what I have been too lazy to do in terms of my own heritage – celebrate the Jewish Holidays -- I instead do for my husband’s (how I love saying that word and mentally superimposing D’s head above it!).

Once upon a time, traditions, rituals, celebrations held much more meaning. Winter solstice marked the true beginning of hibernation season, while summer solstice indicated the time for crops and coming out of our caves had arrived. We lived by the seasons, and cornerstone moments were observed – the ascent into adulthood, the naming of newborns – by well-known, well-worn traditions, celebrations and rituals that marked a next phase or a big change. What have, too often, become little more than another excuse to spend money, were once filled with meanings that we have, by now, long-since forgotten.

While organizing the wedding, I came across so many of those: for example, the question of whether to splash out on a traditional wedding cake, is one that has caused many a tense moment between couples. Let’s, for now, forget that the mere mention of the word wedding is enough to add at least one zero to any price tag; how many of us actually know why a “REAL” wedding cake is tiered? Costing hundreds if not thousands, the difference between a regular cake and a wedding cake is usually little more than height-related. The reason, I discovered, is that way back when, the layering symbolized the happy couple’s wealth. Rich people would often have to climb ladders to get to the top of their cake, proof that they (or whomever had paid for the do) had no money concerns. A few years ago, a friend of mine on an extremely tight budget actually calculated that it would be at least one-third cheaper to purchase different sized cakes and stack them herself (not to mention that if you are the one making the icing, you’ll also be the one who gets to lick the bowl!). Relatively speaking, the wedding cake is often one of the major expenses. Still, so many couples go for it so they can be photographed slicing that first piece together, both newlywed hands on the same knife, feeding one another a misaimed glob, the icing deposited on their noses. While money may be a factor in the decision about whether the cake should have three tiers or seventeen, I’m pretty sure nobody thinks about it as an indication of prosperity anymore.

For the past four years, every September, I have announced that next year I will celebrate Rosh Hashana, I will fast for Yom Kippur. Every spring, I have regretted not having attended a Seder, dull as they can be. Hanukkah I can take or leave; it’s a children’s holiday and we don’t have any yet. Still, I remember the candles in the windowsills fondly, and hope to one day light my own, adding one every night, singing about the “big miracle that took place over there”, in Israel.

Instead, for the past four years, we have celebrated Christmas, and it has been a big deal. Every year has been different – we have been in Canada and Bristol, amidst snow-covered valleys and under pouring rain -- with a few, recurring threads reminding us that it’s Christmas again: a tree, lights, sales, presents, food, complaints about the cold, non-sarcastic mentions of Santa. Throughout December, we have agonized over what to get each member of the family, and which friends we should include on that list. We have sat in a hotel room watching D’s niece tearing open her two suitcases of prezzies, and woken up in my brother’s home to exchange gifts in our pyjamas. Last year, when I decided to start taking this crazy blogging adventure seriously, it was with a post about our first Christmas held at home.

But how do you create, recreate, instigate traditions?

D and I went through those questions before the wedding, and we continue to do so. There’s the Jewish customs versus the Scottish ones, the Latin and the English, the Shabbat dinners and the baptisms, the Hebrew songs and the eighties ballads. When discussing our options, we do our best to avoid the dramatic declarations -- “no child of mine…” or “not in my house!” D is better at holding back than I am. I blame the fear mentality of being born into a minority (and a historically persecuted one at that).

How do you create your own traditions when there are so many in existence already – some that you would like to incorporate, others that you would prefer to ignore? How do you decide which to keep and which to skip? How do you choose? How do you separate those you feel guilted into from those you actually desire?

D and I have learned that with us, it’s better to start small. He doesn’t like new things, and I’m obsessed with not getting stuck in old ones just because they’re old.

Food is a good middle ground for us: I cook, he critiques, I wash up, he dries. We take comfort in dishes that start out as meals and become symbols; new parts of the unspoken language two people create when they choose to mesh their lives; something for the two of us, and the new family we are creating. Sometimes it’s about giving in, other times we accept and support – with a look, an inside joke, dinner prepared just so.

Last Wednesday afternoon, the sound of his voice tipped me off about what I would be making that night.
“Sweet potato fries,” he sighed, when I handed him the plate, “I can’t think of anything I would rather put in my body right now.”
It had been a rough day amidst a cluster of especially taxing ones. The personal was heaped on to the professional, which was trying its damndest to stifle the inspirational. My baked sweet potato wedges, slow-roasted with fresh herbs offer more comfort than chocolate cake in these dark, wet months, and I have found myself making them more often than my ever-conscious calorie-counting self would normally permit. But right now, their benefits outweigh their status as high-starch - read: fattening and therefore better to avoid - vegetables. As roots, sweet potatoes ground us; their sweetness satisfies our cravings, and the warm, baked slices, are perfect to make us feel just a bit naughty, like children allowed French fries.
Sometimes there is nothing I can say to make things better. But it’s great to discover small gestures that can make a big difference, if only for the duration of dinner.

And then there are the accidental traditions, created like a great piece of improvisational theatre. A couple of Fridays ago, we were having some friends over for Shabbat dinner and I wanted them to get a proper taste of my food -- the kind that I eat -- which is so far removed from their customary fare. I made chickpea flatbreads. They came out wonderfully crunchy on the outside, warm and chewy in the centre, infused with rich, black olives, peppery fresh sage and pungent garlic. D pronounced them “Oh My God” delicious and I made sure there would be enough of them left over to really pamper him. Because he rarely indulges in pizza, I decided to recreate this favourite of his in my own, gluten-free way.

The thing about inventing new versions of beloved staples is that we have to accept that they will never be the same: different ingredients produce different results. With enough of an open mind, however, chickpea pizza night can be as delicious and feel as decadent as the versions we all grew up with.

OK, so it wasn’t exactly “Check the door, it’s dominoes!”, but judging from the silent man chewing next to me, shaking his head with his eyes closed, I think I did a decent job. I had mine, he had his – each pizza topped with ingredients as close to the ones we would have ordered. I would have wanted cheese and tomato; he loves pepperoni and cheese. Instead, he got Spanish chorizo and Camembert, I heaped thick fresh tomato with cashew "cheese" dill and lemon juice on one half, and chunky avocado on the other.

And so pizza night was born. For those days when we wish we didn’t have so many responsibilities on our shoulders, when we want to be more silly than adult, when things would be so much easier if they were about getting a bike for Christmas rather than mortgage payments.

Chickpea Flatbreads:

4 Finely chopped fresh sage leaves
10 Chilli black olives chopped into small pieces
+ 10 more olives, kept separate, chopped.
4 Cloves of fresh garlic minced

olive oil (1 – 2 tablespoons)

1 ½ cup chickpea flour
½ cup brown rice flour
salt to taste

The night before (if possible. This can also be done the same day, if time is short):
Mix the sage, olives and garlic. Immerse in barely enough olive oil to cover. Store overnight in a glass jar with a lid.

On the day itself:
Mix the flour in a large bowl.
Add salt to taste and enough water to start mixing it all together. Blend the olive, garlic, and sage into a paste and add to the flour along with the rest of the olives, chopped into little pieces. Keep adding water and kneading until you have a dough that doesn’t run or stick to your fingers.

Heat a pan until water spatters off the surface. (do not use oil)

I would recommend using a soup ladle to create more or less even shapes and sizes (I would like to stress the more or less part here).
After scooping one ladleful into the hot pan, flatten the batter to create even and thin bread.
Allow to cook until the mixture starts to dry up and the edges start to brown slightly (you can also test this by very carefully inserting a spatula underneath – it is starting to be ready once the bread does not fall apart and is easily flippable as one entity).
Flip the bread and cook on the other side. You will have to do this a few times until the outside is crunchy and lightly brown.

These breads become doughy and less pleasant when cold, so make sure to keep them warm in the oven until ready to serve.

Will keep in the fridge for a couple of days.

To make pizza with leftovers, layer the flatbreads with your choice of topping, and heat up in the oven as you would a pizza.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


I have written two posts since my last one. Somehow, however, by the time I get round to posting them, they feel soooo last week.

By now, Obama has gone from “Yes We Can!” to “can he really?” though most everyone I speak to is still excited that – criticism and cynicism aside -- he will have a chance to give it a shot anyway.

Life is finally returning to some sort of normalcy. After the wedding had become a sort of catch-all, and by the time we came home in October, there was container parked out front with a long long long list of everything we could no longer put off.

But we did it. The end of the year was back to feeling relatively simple: finish up, polish up, get ready for 2009. Then we bought a house.

Wait, WHAT?

Well, we’re trying to. Nothing has been finalized yet so I won’t go into too many details, but yes, we took the leap into serious, four-bedroom (“for the kids”) homeownership.

Our last foray into the world of real estate ended with a woman who had voluntarily changed her human name to that of a reptile screaming down the phone that she was a “fucking peace-loving Buddhist who didn’t fucking judge anyone!”

(While hindsight has gifted me with a sense of humour about it all, I’m going to let dead lizards lie and focus on the present.)

Our current situation unfolded as follows: last week, D was engaged in his favourite form of procrastination, a little hobby I like to call real estate porn. I was sitting over at my desk rewriting a short story when he asked me to come look at a house. As he tends to engage in this perfectly harmless though potentially expensive pastime quite regularly, I have requested that he only show me homes he truly considers an option for us. (In my defence, I sometimes remind him of the time we went to see a house with an asking price about double what we could afford. D then spent the rest of the afternoon calculating how we could scrape the money together for a deposit. It went something like “if we sell our first three children and then you harvest all of your remaining eggs; if I ghost-write a few autobiographies by extremely rich, really dumb people…” While I really loved the house, I prefer a sane husband as well as intact ovaries.)

There is absolutely nothing wrong with our wonderful flat, but we’re busting out of it. Both D and I are also very much looking forward to the day we each have our own office, space, privacy -- at the moment, we share a tiny room behind the refrigerator.

Anyway… I was rewriting my short story when D called me over to look at a charming little house. We both liked the look of the place and it fell somewhat within our price-range. It did tick every box we had decided on in terms of what our deal-breakers were: there was outside space, an eat-in kitchen and enough bedrooms to fit us all (separate offices and future projected offspring included). Best of all, it was only three streets away and almost directly en route to our favourite neighbourhood hangout. D emailed the real estate agent and the next day, as the sun set behind the eternally grey London sky, we sauntered over …

Three days later our offer was accepted.

Now we’re dealing with mortgage brokers, real estate lawyers, selling and letting agents (for our flat), roofers, plumbers, electricians, etc. I think I’ve heard the phrase “the current market being what it is…” more often this week than “hello”.

Until this decision to consciously buy into our next step, D and I have calmly been assessing this past year and everything that has happened. I suspect that, like every year since we’ve been together, on December 31st we’ll look at each other and say “It’s been a year!”

Every year since we’ve been together (this year will make five), D and I have taken an afternoon to sit down and go over the coming year. We’ll talk about plans and agree on dates for holidays. We’ll decide where we want to go, professionally, individually, as a couple. It’s quite a fun way to pass an afternoon, all tangled up in projections and fantasies but once it’s done, we’ve forgotten about it and have gotten on with our lives.

Last Christmas, we shared our little tradition with a friend who, it turns out, does exactly the same. His reaction was way more enthusiastic than we had intended: “Isn’t it great,” he said, “when you set yourself a goal and then actually achieve it? I love that feeling of ticking things off my list.”
D and I looked at one another. We burst out laughing. Neither of us had thought of following through enough to tick anything off anywhere. They were ideas, things we bantered back and forth and then actually wrote or didn’t. Never had it occurred to us to actually keep track.

By August our friend had accomplished every goal he’d set for himself in 2008. My goal is ultimately still the same: make a living as a writer, be a great partner, don’t let life get too depressing. Other than that, in my life everything changes by the hour.

I truly wish I could dwell on this past year, and as this month progresses, I probably will. However, before I give myself over to reminiscing, there’s Christmas. For the first time, my mother will be with us as well as D’s parents. During the wedding, they referred to themselves as “the three bears.” I’m way too obsessed with the pressure of all of these firsts being memorable -- making sure our shared meals aren’t too hot or too cold; I need everything to be just right. Does that make me Goldilocks?

“What do you think?” I’ll ask D at any time of the day or night, “Should we have curry roast pumpkin or garlic kale?”
“I’m in the loo, sweetheart,” he’ll say from behind the closed door. “Can we talk about this later?”
I’ll count my in-breaths, turn on the television only to turn it back off again, I’ll type random ingredients like pomegranate molasses and mace into search engines, but soon enough I’ll be back at it with a hesitant “sweetheart…?”

Me (stirring a pot that I’ve been standing over for some indeterminate length of time):
“Sweetheart, can you try this?”

D (happily popping his head round the doorframe that separates our shared office from the kitchen): “SURE!”

I spoon a taste out of the pot, blow on it some: “careful, it’s hot.”

D (blowing a few times): “mmmm”

Me: “You haven’t tried it yet!”

D: “But it smells good”

Me (still holding the spoon): “are you gonna?”

D: “what?”

Me: “taste it!”

D opens his mouth and closes his eyes. He pulls back involuntarily when the spoon touches his lips.

D (breathing hard, his hand waving in front of his face): “Hoh-Hoh”

Me: “I told you it was hot.”

Then there is a whole rating system, another spider’s web of pitfalls and sticky bits. At fist I thought D was being dishonest, that he didn’t want to tell me how he really felt. Then I realized that he wasn’t being insincere, he was being British.

I find nuance impossible to read. I don’t do between the lines very well. Unfortunately for me, inflection is what this country was built on, and how it continues to thrive (although with the recession and all, maybe they’ll get the hint?)

In our house, food critique goes something like this:

D’s Determination: It’s good, sweetheart.
My Translation: could be much better, there’s something in there that doesn’t quite work for me.
Example: haphazard attempts at breads and baked sweets of various descriptions that, being gluten, dairy, yeast and sugar-free sometimes taste like the prototypical health food – the kind that gives good, healthy food a bad name.

D’s Determination: mmm, I like it!
My Translation: It’s fine, not spectacular. I probably wouldn’t finish an entire meal of this, but it’ll do.
Example: various kitchen sink soups where I used what I had, but what was available didn’t necessarily mesh.

D’s Determination: Sweetheart!
My Translation: I was expecting something different. This is much better than what I expected. It doesn’t look as good as it tastes which is a bit of a put-off and why I tried this slightly under duress.
Example: a sweet potato, kale and wakame mush that looked like green baby food but was, in fact, delicious.

D’s Determination: This is Great!
My Translation: I really like it, but people who don’t usually eat your kind of food, sweetheart, might not be so into this.
Example: raw chocolate balls – very chocolaty.

D’s Determination: “Oh My God!”
My Translation: This is great.
Example: the dough of last weeks’ chocolate-banana protein balls, Sunday night’s chicken curry.

Two exclamations to God in the space of one week… I should have known something was up.

It seems every time I blink, a whole part of my life has gone by. (Sidney Sheldon was definitely on to something!)

Blink – I’m in Thailand – Blink – I’ve gotten married – Blink – we’ve bought a house…

The house was one of those “Oh My God” moments – across the board, no translation necessary.

Blink –


Oh My God Chocolate Banana Globes
(I would call them "balls" although men, no matter what their age, giggle by which point the delectable aspect is all but lost)

-- 1 cup brown rice flakes
- Around 1 cup of almond or Brazil nut meal (I used the pulp leftover from making nut milk and it worked great)
-- 1/2 cup unsweetened grated coconut / coconut flakes chopped
-- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
-- 100 grams chocolate (I chopped up a bar of 100% cacao -- the original recipe calls for bittersweet chocolate)
-- 2 - 4 bananas to taste (I like things a little less sweet so I used 2)
-- 1/2 t vanilla extract
-- 1/4 cup hemp butter (almond butter can also be used)
-- 1/4 cup melted coconut butter
(I also added about 1/2 cup of ground gogi berries to the second batch, but that's definitely optional)

Preheat the oven to 180C / 350F

Use a dabble of the melted coconut oil to grease a pan

Mash all the ingredients together very very well with your hands (it's a really fun sensation. Children would enjoy participating as well, especially with the gloopiness of the bananas) -- have fun creating the dough.

Roll into little globes and set gently on the tray.

Bake for about 20 - 25 minutes (depending on the oven)

(Note: I think they would make excellent cookies as well. Just flatten -- shape and texture are a matter of taste)

Adapted from a recipe found on chocolate and zucchini by Clotilde Dusoulier.