This Lady Bakes

Lessons Learned (Or, Piecing Together a Pie Crust)

Daily life in a new place is a good way to learn new ways to be. Fresh starts, a new perspective, hopefully incites new motivation to be patient, open-minded and kind. I am trying to teach myself the lessons I want to learn, how to be caring, how to be in community, and how to know what I need and desire. And on top of all of those things goes communication, how to express your intentions and your thoughts and your feelings.

Cooking and eating has been difficult for me recently. Not in any worrisome way, and to be clear I am very grateful to have never needed to worry about having enough food; about going hungry. But it is something that normally brings me great joy and calm. Lately its been difficult to enjoy. My life has been turned upside down, dumped all over the floor and shattered into a million pieces. I am trying to sort it all out and build something again. I am trying to get a solid footing.

In the past I have taken on too much when the holidays come around. I have tried to make elaborate and numerous desserts, trying so hard to please everyone. This year I made one pie, and it was enough. Our meal at my aunt and uncle’s house on Marrowstone Island was simple and decadent: homemade salmon chowder and a fresh salad topped with avocado and dressed simply with good olive oil. Dessert was my pear pie and another, pumpkin, plus freshly whipped cream and vanilla ice cream. It was perfect, it all made me so happy and so sad at the same time. Everything is different, and I am to blame. People have told me not to think of it as a mistake, but that is constantly on my mind.

Making this pie was good practice with patience, and finding new ways to do and see things. The beautiful fruit brought me joy to see in the afternoon light. I was not optimistic about my oatmeal crust (I ground up some oats in a food processor and used that for flour), it would not hold together but I patched it together in the pan and hoped for the best. The filling was watery, and I pictured a big sloppy mess as we tried to cut into it. It held together just fine, and was a delicious end to our Thanksgiving on the island. I am practicing experiencing joy.

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I used Grant Achatz’ recipe for pear pie, which can be found here.  Some changes that I made: using 6 pears instead of 8 (8 would have made  a mountain of pear slices!), switching the fat in the crust to 1/2 cup vegetable oil, and grinding up old-fashioned oats to use as the flour in the crust. I also omitted the top crust since the aforementioned bottom crust had to be patched together in the pan.

Happy holiday pie eating!


Chewy Chocolate Coconut Cookies


Hello there.  It’s been awhile. I’ve typed those words too many times into a blog post, and yet, there they are again.  It’s been several months since I’ve been blogging regularly.  Honestly, I just haven’t felt like blogging, or even cooking or baking much for that matter. I’ve had some other things to attend to, and I decided I wasn’t going to blog if I wasn’t enjoying it. Sharing food should include some element of excitement, of passion, of anticipation for the other person to experience the enjoyment from it that you yourself found in the first place. I wasn’t feeling those things about food or blogging for awhile, so I took a break.

My inspiration seems to be seeping back slowly, and today I bring you a humble recipe.  We’re in the thick of it right now in New England, that January stretch of desperately cold temperatures, not enough sunshine, no holidays, and no mercy. I needed some comfort.

I almost made macaroons, dipped in dark chocolate, then at the last minute I came to terms with the fact that I was really craving a cookie with some substance. Some density, weight and measure. Macaroons are lovely but they don’t warm my soul on a day with a high of 13. Degrees. Fahrenheit. That’s right, folks.

So my macaroon turned into a dense, fudgy, cocoa-flavored cookie with a healthy dose of shredded coconut folded into the batter. Since January is not really the time when I want to go for extra-rich treats (except on my birthday, of course), I health-ified this recipe with oats and ground flax. I often try to do this to cookie recipes. Then I can feel completely justified when eating them for breakfast. These actually turned out tasting like chocolate cake batter. Imagine: cake batter for breakfast! I say yes.


Chewy Chocolate Coconut Cookies


Makes 20 cookies

Prep time: 15 minutes/Bake time: 15 minutes


1 1/4 cup oats

3/4 cup flour

1/2 cup cocoa

1/2 tsp. soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 cup coconut oil (or neutral-tasting oil, like grapeseed or canola)

3/4 cup sugar*

1 Tablespoon flax meal

3 Tablespoons warm water

3/4 cup almond milk

1 tsp. vanilla

1 cup shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 400.

Mix together flax meal and water in a small cup. Set aside so it can gel- this is your “egg”.

Combine oats, flour, cocoa, soda, and salt in a large bowl.

In a smaller bowl, mix together oil, sugar, milk, and vanilla. Add in your flax egg and stir until everything is incorporated.

Add wet ingredients to dry and stir until combined.

Fold in your coconut.

Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto parchment-lined baking sheets.

Bake for 15 minutes. These cookies will still seem soft when you take them out of the oven, and will retain a chewy texture. I like them, as I enjoy most cookies, straight out of the freezer.

Adapted from Betty Crocker

* I decreased the amount of sugar in this recipe because I ended up using sweetened coconut. Normally I would use unsweetened coconut, and would increase the sugar to 1 cup.