Katie’s Gluten-free Chocolate Almond Cherry Cookies

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The lovely Katie Williams (pictured above) brought these delicious cookies to our September Supper Club. Below, she demonstrates how she made them more healthy and vegan! It’s a great example of how easy it is to transition recipes. Thank you, Katie!

Katie’s Gluten-free Chocolate Almond Cherry Cookies
• 1 1/4 cups almond meal
• 1/4 cup chopped dark chocolate (I used cacao nibs)
• 1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
• 1/2 tsp baking powder
• 1/4 teaspoon salt (I used sea salt)
• 1/3 cup brown sugar (I used Raw Coconut Sugar)
• 1 egg (I used 1 Flax egg; 1 Tbsp flax meal + 3 Tbsp water)
• 3 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
• 1/2 tsp vanilla
• Handful of dried cranberries (optional)

1. In a large mixing bowl, stir together almond meal, dark chocolate
chips, coconut, baking powder (raw coconut sugar), salt and sugar.
2. In a separate bowl, beat egg (flax egg) until uniform in color and
doubled in volume.
3. Whisk in the coconut oil and vanilla, then add to dry ingredients and
mix until just combined.
4. Chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or even overnight.
5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
6. Shape dough into 1-inch balls, place on baking sheet with 1-1/2 inch
space in between each. Press down slightly to flatten a bit.
7. Bake until edges begin to brown, 7-10 minutes.
8. Remove from oven and let cool before serving.


Gluten-free Potluck Cookies

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Do you want to make some new friends? Bring some plant-based, gluten-free cookies to your next potluck. There are bound to be people who are either choosing or must eat gluten and/or dairy or egg-free. And you’re going to be their new best friend. Especially if they are four years old. For me, the occasion was the farewell party for Treehuggers in Grand Rapids. This progressive vegan, package-free grocery was the brainchild of Angela Topp, who worked tirelessly to bring us inventive recycling and packaging solutions, in addition to beautiful recycled gifts and products.

I wanted to make Terry Walters’ peanut butter teff cookies, but sadly I didn’t have many of the ingredients. So I used her basic proportions and took it off-road. The cookies don’t look anything like the ones pictured (I didn’t photograph them…and I call myself a food blogger). They are more mounded and craggy, but they are surely delicious. And very easy to whip up. All the fans of these cookies should try Terry’s version, too.

Make Some Friends Potluck Cookies
Makes 2 dozen cookies

2 1/4 cup super fine brown rice flour
1 1/4 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. fine sea salt

1 cup smooth raw almond butter
1 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup brown rice syrup
2/3 cup plain soymilk

3/4 cup vegan mini chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Stir together the raw almond butter, soy (or other dairy alternative milk), maple syrup and brown syrup in a small bowl. Whisk the superfine brown rice flour, baking soda and sea salt in a larger bowl. Make sure that baking soda is nicely distributed, then form a well in the center and pour the liquid ingredients into the dry, stirring carefully until just combined. Stir in the vegan chocolate chips. Scoop onto cookie sheet in rounded teaspoon-fulls. Bake for 12 minutes.

German Chocolate Cake


Happy Vegan Month of Food! Let’s start with some cake.

This cake is so good and so easy.  There are a million recipes for the cake.  Those Depression-era recipe testers have given us great egg-less, dairy-free chocolate cakes.  I have lots of variations, but for the base of this cake, please refer to either this one given to me by friend, Caitlin,  Or this one that I modified from a recipe in Bon Appetit.

I love making this cake for birthdays–and it is also my birthday cake of choice.  I made it for our last supper club to celebrate friend Beth Leeson’s birthday, and I got several requests for the recipe.  After you make and bake your chocolate cake of choice, here’s the topping (which I have modified slightly) from the Chicago Diner cookbook to use less Earth Balance and more other ingredients than called for.  If you don’t have barley malt (which I didn’t recently), see the substitution below.

The big trick here is to quickly spread this on your cake.  It really does firm up quickly, so have everything ready.  You can use the chocolate frosting provided in Caitlin’s recipe on the outside of the cake, or you can choose to be more authentic and just use the coconut-pecan topping.  Either way it is delicious.

German Chocolate Cake Topping (adapted from Chicago Diner)

3 T soy margarine (or coconut oil)
1/2 cup Sucanat (or other raw sugar)
1/2 cup barley malt (or 1/3 cup brown rice syrup and 1/4 cup molasses)
1 cup unsweetened coconut
1 cup chopped pecans
2 eight (or nine) inch chocolate layer cakes, cooled

In an iron pan, dry toast the coconut by placing it in the pan and stirring over medium heat. Stay around and watch it. When it begins to turn brown and you smell a nice nutty aroma, remove from pan and set aside.
Melt margarine in a small heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add sugar and barley malt and stir until incorporated and sugar is melted.
Add other ingredients and stir until well mixed. Divide in half and smooth half over each cake layer. Start by mounding in the middle and spreading outward. This requires a delicate touch so you don’t tear your cake, but it’s the only challenging part. You can do it! Especially for this delicious result.

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Thank you, Chicago Diner! We love you!


Springtime in May!

During that brief hot spell (between snow and freezing rain), we had a beautiful night for our May supper club. Our special guest was Bea Jokusch, owner of Baked by B. Her authentic pretzel rolls and bread speak for themselves. Delicious and affordable, you you can order by emailing her at jockusch@comcast.net or calling 676-8752.

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Everyone was interested to hear about my trip to New York with my literacy project Wireman.  You can see wonderful (short!) videos of kids and teachers on my youtube channel.


While in New York, I ate at 3 well-established and famous-for-their-delicious vegan food restaurants: Candle 79, Blossom NYC and Angelica’s Kitchen. While there I sampled dishes like the Morrocan-spiced chickpea cake at Candle 79. It was served on a bed of sauteed kale, broccoli, onions and jalapenos with a red pepper coconut curry sauce and date-apricot-ginger chutney and sprinkled with toasted almonds. It was good–no doubt about it–but it wasn’t more flavorful than entrees like Dave Ogren’s roasted vegetable and chickpea patties with cucumber mango relish and coconut curry sauce.

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Or Melissa’s Hot & Cold Thai Salad or my spicy black bean cakes with guajillo rojo sauce, roasted tomatillos and cilantro-lime sour cream.

May supper club 007And that’s just for starters, we had delicious roasted vegetables, homemade bread…well, here’s the rest of the photo gallery–we’re saving the desserts for last!

May supper club 022Above K.C.’s roasted veggies, below Nancy’s amazing sweet potato salad.

May supper club 021My mizuna salad, adapted from this one in the NYTimes (a little smoked paprika and jicama stood in for the smoked turkey)

May supper club 013Marilyn’s Herb Vegetable and Orzo Salad

May supper club 020And Shawn’s fried green tomatoes–stop!

May supper club 023I don’t have lovely pics of the garlic sauce, the arugula pesto, the bok choy salad, the double pea stew or the marinated salad.  It was such a bounty.  Thank you everyone.  Please note that there are simple and elaborate dishes.  The most inventive dish (he always wins!) went to Geoff Fields who, admittedly, had to handsell his Thai tasting vinegar.  Geoff made a rhubarb, grapefruit, lemon and mint simple syrup infusion and paired it with balsamic vinegar.  What a palate cleanser. Plus, it looked just like a glass of red wine!

May supper club 037And we needed to cleanse our palates for the amazing array of desserts.  Fortunately, for all of you I have recipes or links to many of these.

First up, Christina’s ginger-spice cupcakes, made famous by Chloe Coscarelli, the first vegan baker to win Cupcake Wars.May supper club 027Here’s Christina with her husband, Dave.


Vegan Banana Bread made for us by Liddy and Ruth’s Heart-Healthiest Chocolate Chip Cookies in the World

May supper club 030Here are Ruth and Terry.  It was their first time at the supper club!


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Kris Siegel brought her son Bennett and this lovely chocolate cake.  Find the recipe at the end of the post.*

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Last but not least, here are Cindy’s beautiful mini banana splits

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Because it was spring! some of us opted to sit outside…

May supper club 046Melissa and I took the opportunity to snap some photos.

May supper club 045 sp2Appreciative diners, Ryan and Dorothy.

May supper club 050And clean-up helpers spearheaded by Molly made the evening fly by.


We hope you will be encouraged to join us if you, too, are interested in healthy (and sometimes indulgent) plant-based food, good conversation and nice people!

We’re especially hoping to see Marie Catrib as our special guest next month.  As you may have noticed from last month’s post, Marie cooks a lot of our dishes….

shoes and name cards 003But she never gets to sit down and enjoy herself. So we made her a big invitation and are hoping–fingers crossed–she can come with some of her staff to be served by us. Even if she’s not able to come, we wanted her to know how much we appreciate her food.  Thank you, Marie!

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Last but not least, thanks to Melissa and Marilyn for helping me with the photos and a big thank you to Christine who supplied us with re-usable name badges!

*Deep Chocolate Vegan Cake & Chocolate-Peanut Butter Frosting
(with Kris’s notes in parentheses)

Chocolate Cake: (This recipe makes an 8” square cake-not nearly enough, in my opinion. Double it to make a 2 layer cake, or a 9”x 13”)
1 ½ c. all-purpose flour
1/3 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 c. sugar
½ c. canola oil
1 c. cold coffee (or water)
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 T. cider vinegar
Chocolate-Peanut Butter Frosting: (I tripled this recipe to frost 2 layer cake & had some frosting left over.)
1/3 c. semisweet chocolate chips
¼ c. smooth peanut butter
3-4 T. water
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. powdered sugar
Directions for Cake:
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease and flour your baking pans.
2. Whisk together flour, cocoa, salt and sugar. In another bowl, combine oil, coffee or water, and vanilla. Pour liquid into dry, and mix until smooth. Add vinegar and stir briefly. Pour into prepared pan(s).
3. Bake 25-30 minutes.
Directions for Frosting:
1. In heavy saucepan, melt chocolate chips over medium-low heat. Beat together peanut butter, water, and vanilla until smooth. Beat in powdered sugar, add melted chocolate, mixing until blended. (My frosting was too thick, so I added a few tablespoons of soy creamer.)
2. Spread frosting onto cooled cake.

Out of this world–chocolate chocolate chip cookies & a free class

Kris Siegel is a local librarian for KDL who loves to bake. That’s why she offered to leave her cookies at the supper club when she had to take off early. I was pretty excited at the prospect of having a few cookies around the house, but when I checked a half hour later, they were all gone! This was a ‘most-requested recipe.’ Thank you, Kris, for writing it up for us.

In addition, Kris is teaching a free class on veganism at three local libraries. Here are the details.

Vegan in Grand Rapids – What? Why? How?
“Curious about the vegan diet? Explore what it means to exclude meat, eggs, dairy, and animal-derived ingredients, why people eat this way, and how to shop, cook, and dine out as a vegan in Grand Rapids.” Kris plans to keep students happy by bringing food samples. Um, maybe I should repeat that. Food Samples!

The schedule: Walker Public Library on Tuesday, Oct. 9 at 6:30 pm; Alpine Township Public Library on Wednesday, October 17 at 6:30 pm; and Comstock Park Public Library on Thursday, October 18 at 7:00 pm

This is a great opportunity to go and ask questions–baking and otherwise–to explore this way of cooking and living.

Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies
This recipe is adapted from the one in Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook, by Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero. It’s one of my favorite vegan cookbooks. Here goes:

2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
2/3 cup canola oil
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup white sugar
4 tsp. ground flaxseeds
½ cup soy milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup vegan semisweet choc. chips
1 cup chopped walnuts

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt.
2. In the bowl of your mixer, whisk together the oil and sugars. Add the flaxseeds, soymilk, and vanilla, and mix well.
3. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet. Add chocolate chips and walnuts. Don’t over mix.
4. Drop teaspoonfuls onto cookie sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes. Let cookies cool on cookie sheet for a few moments before you remove them to a wire rack.

Tip from cookbook: If you don’t have flaxseeds, you can leave them out. The cookies will be a bit less chewy but still yummy! (I never tried this)

White Chocolate Chip-Cherry-Chocolate Cookies: Replace the choc. chips with white choc. chips and replace the walnuts with dried cherries.
Orange-Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Cookies: Omit the walnuts. Add 3 tsp. of finely grated orange zest to the liquid ingreds.
Chocolate-Hazelnut Cookies: Omit the choc. chips. Replace ¼ cup of the soy milk with hazelnut liqueur. Replace the walnuts with chopped, toasted hazelnuts.

Here they are close up!

Grandma’s Vegan Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

No, Grandma wasn’t vegan. She never even heard the word. However, that doesn’t mean her pie can’t decide to be. This strawberry rhubarb pie, adapted from an old-timey recipe, is the perfect evocation of sweet and sour. To make it easier on you, find a vegan pie crust. Don’t get me wrong…this isn’t health food. The Marie Callander crust I used has hydrogenated vegetable oil and healthy living advocates would not approve of the refined sugar; but hey, you gotta relax the rules a little in June.

Grandma’s Vegan Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

3 ½ cups fresh strawberries, de-stemmed and cut in large pieces
1 ½ cups rhubarb, chopped in ½ inch pieces
1 cup sugar
2T minute tapioca (I further ground mine in a spice grinder–I have a thing about tapioca bubbles)
2T arrowroot powder
1T flour
1 tsp. lemon zest
½ tsp. fresh lemon juice
½ tsp. cinnamon
1 ½ T margarine (I use Earth Balance)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine all ingredients (except the Earth Balance) in a large bowl. Pour into frozen 9 inch pie crust. Chop the margarine into small pieces and dot the top of the pie. You can cover the edge of the pie crust with a shield or some Reynolds wrap, if you like. Bake at 400 for 15 minutes. Then reduce the heat to 375 degrees and bake for another 45 to 50 minutes, or until the pie is bubbling and the crust is golden. Remove and let stand for 15 minutes. Serve with coconut vanilla bean ice cream.

You could also make this as a topping for yogurt or ice cream by baking it alone without the crust. Or you can make it as the innards to a crumble, using the earth balance to mix with some chopped nuts, oats and—surprise, surprise—a couple more tablespoons of brown sugar.

I’m not sure, but it might make a good facial, too. Just eat it afterward. Letting this dish go uneaten is a crime against nature. The point here is that you will love it. It’s the poster child of a Michigan late spring, with its tangy lemon-zesty sweet and sourness and you should savor every moment of it!

Be Still My Heart Farinata

Behold my new love! A chickpea frittata-like concoction that makes my heart go pitter-patter. I’ve been trying to do more gluten-free things for my friends—with limited success. This is naturally gluten-free and easy! And adaptable! The inspiration for this is from the luscious blog Lucullian Delights. I’ve removed most of the oil. It’s not really necessary.

Chickpea Farinata

1 1/2 cup garbanzo flour
1 ½ cup filtered water
½ tsp. salt
2 tsp olive oil

½ can diced tomatoes (squeezed until dry and chopped even further)
10-15 pitted kalamata olives (squeezed until dry and chopped further)
1/3 cup onion, diced fine
1-2 T fresh herbs, minced (I used oregano and basil) Feel free to use 2 tsp. dried

Whisk together the flour, water and salt and set aside for twenty minutes to thicken.

After the batter has been sitting for ten minutes, place an iron pan in the middle rack of the oven and set the temperature at 425.

Prepare the vegetables.

Here they are just before chopping further. When I say dry, I mean dry!

As soon as the oven’s ready timer goes off, remove hot pan from oven, pour in olive oil and swirl to coat. Follow with the batter. It will sizzle a bit.

Sprinkle veggies and herbs on top and place back in oven. Set timer for 25 minutes. Pull the pan out of the oven and let it cool. Run a spatula beneath the farinata to loosen and slip it onto a serving plate. Ta da! Serve warm or cold, topped with marinara or to accompany soup or salad. You can make a Mexican version with diced green chiles, salsa and black olives or an Indian version with bell peppers, chili peppers and cumin seeds, chili powder and turmeric. Really, it’s genius!