OmniMount Combo Kit (Giveaway!) + Grandma’s Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

the omnimount ipad combo

In the time since we last spoke, Tim and I have gone to our first baby shower together (and it was thrown for us) (!!), hosted our first overnight house guests in our halfway-renovated home, spent time with my side of the family and Tim’s side of the family and been showered with unbelievable future-grandparents-uncles-aunts generosity from both, spent a weekend in Asheville being fed homemade croissants and trying to explain einkorn to total strangers at a giant fair, paid our taxes (ooooouch) and gotten pretty addicted to a new kitchen gadget we’re excited to share here today. In this post, I used it to bake a version of my grandma’s oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, and at the end of the post, the folks who make it are going to give one away to one of you. So let’s talk a little about these cookies and about this gadget, the OmniMount iPad Combo Kit.

how to make oatmeal chocolate chip cookies
Making oatmeal chocolate chip cookies
oatmeal chocolate chip cookie dough
batter for oatmeal chocolate chip cookies
chocolate chips in oatmeal cookies
scoop of oatmeal chocolate chip cookie dough batter
looking up a recipe with the omnimount ipad combo

First the gadget: so what we essentially have here is a much easier way to look up recipes and research information while you’re in the kitchen, from a mounted stand that can hang beneath a cabinet, be folded up when you’re not using it and keep information out and accessible while you’re mixing ingredients for dinner or dessert. This combo kit includes a stand, a case and a wall mount with a magnetic mount for your iPad, and, from the first day we installed it, I’ve been using it all the time. So convenient! So much better for keeping food off the iPad! Learn more about it at OmniMount’s site.

grandma's oatmeal chocolate chip cookies

Second thing: the cookies. If you’ve been around here since the beginning, you’ll recognize these as my grandma’s original recipe, which have been one of my favorites since I was small. The entire mixture is stirred together in a bowl, by hand, with a big wooden spoon, and the ingredients list is fairly simple, even with fancier, nutrient-rich ingredients like coconut sugar and coconut oil mixed in. Rather than my grandma’s margarine, I combine butter and oil; rather than half white sugar and half brown sugar, I use all coconut sugar; and rather than 1 1/2 cups of chocolate chips, I hand-chop a 70% dark bar and throw it inside. Just like in childhood, they’re still one of my all-time favorites—I think I ate five straight out of the oven—as they’re both sweet and filling, crisp and soft.

thin and crisp oatmeal chocolate chip cookies

So now for the giveaway! Win your own OmniMount case–for either iPad generation 2, 3 or 4; mini; or Air—and adjustable stand by using the Rafflecopter here. US entries only. Giveaway runs until Thursday, April 30, 2015.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Grandma’s Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from the recipe in this 2008 old post, where it was adapted from my grandma // also, there’s a similar recipe in our book
Makes about two dozen (or a little more) cookies

This cookie recipe is incredibly changeable if you alter one of three things: the temperature of the fats (butter, coconut oil), the amount of flour (here we’re using just a cup of einkorn to make a crisp, thin cookie) and the way you chop the chocolate (big chunks = more reminiscent of traditional cookie; tiny pieces = more chocolatey flavor mixed into dough). Feel free to play around, but the one thing you need to know is that for this version your butter and coconut oil must be soft enough to smoosh with a spoon (another option would be to use cold butter and oil but combine everything in the food processor where it will be appropriately dispersed). No matter what, you do not want big chunks of fat in the batter when you’re scooping it, because when they melt in the oven, you’ll get little pools of liquid and that will make the cookies weird. Hope that makes sense. Comment with questions!

Ingredients:
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) softened (!!) unsalted butter
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 cup (or just under) coconut sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup all-purpose einkorn flour (What is einkorn? Simple answer: ancient wheat. Check out our book!)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1 3.5-ounce dark chocolate bar, chopped

Directions:
Preheat oven to 325F degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, use a big wooden spoon and some strong stirring to combine all the ingredients except the oatmeal and the chocolate chips. (See headnote about butter and coconut oil.) After well-mixed, with all the fats evenly smooshed and distributed especially, stir in the oatmeal and see a bowl of cookie dough that takes me right back to my grandma’s kitchen. Add the chopped chocolate last and stir everything together well.

Drop by rounded tablespoon (I like to use this) onto prepared baking sheets. Baked for 12 to 15 minutes, until firm and a little browned around the edges. Repeat with remaining dough. Enjoy!

disclaimer: we were sent a combo kit from OmniMount to include in this post, and OmniMount is generously giving away one identical kit to the winner of this giveaway. we were not paid in any other way and all opinions expressed are our own.

Classic Einkorn Chocolate Chip Cookies

chocolate-chip-cookies-3

I know today is the first of the year and the time for resolutions and healthy recipe searches, but while we were in Ohio last week, Tim got talking about some chocolate chip cookies his mom used to make, crisp around the edges and soft on the inside. It turned out his sister, Gina, had his mom’s original recipe book on hand, one of those spiral-bound church club versions where Myrtle shares her meatloaf and Veera provides her famous recipe for banana cream pie. That’s how I found out the cookies from Tim’s memories came from the kitchen of one Marcia Maki and were marked with a handwritten “very good” in his mom’s red pen. I love when people write in their cookbooks, almost as much as I love the way that food lets us remember people who cooked for us once they’re gone. It’s a way of making a cookbook more personal, more your own. It’s also a great reference for posterity 20 or 30 years down the line, when they want to know if Mom liked the cherry pie and see a big “NO” written on top.

chocolate-chip-cookies
chocolate-chip-cookies-6

In keeping with our eating habits, we’ve swapped in some einkorn flour, coconut sugar and coconut oil in our version here, so if you’re in the mood to move your baking towards the nutrient-dense in 2015, here you go. I’m not big on resolutions—all I wanted was to be on my knees this past year, which is exactly what God gave me—but in 2015 especially I am yearning to open my hands without expectation. Tim and I are facing some big career questions and life changes in the coming months, not the least of which is the very big change at the end of June, and it is in this season of uncertainty I am comforted with the fact that I am not the one calling the shots. Like my blog friend Natalie So said today in her New Year’s newsletter, “No matter how daunting & unknown, the wilderness is rich in beauty & hidden glories; don’t dismiss the possibility of miracles.”

Einkorn Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes about 2 dozen

Changing ingredients often means changing textures and tastes, and that’s definitely the case with these cookies, which Tim says reminded him of his mom’s but are yet another thing entirely. We played around with the bake times to discover that letting them go too long moves the soft and gooey center towards a hard hockey puck, so definitely err on the side of undercooking if you can. Note that the cookies are also on the softer side, so while we kept ours in a tupperware container on the counter, they’d also be good candidates for chilling in the freezer if you’re of the mind to do that sort of thing.

In terms of results, they are not like any other chocolate chip cookie I’ve had—both cakey and not, both firm and soft—and notably, ridiculously easy to whip together, which is always something I love about a good cookie. We got talking in the kitchen about how many different ways there are to make a chocolate chip cookie—the large and firm, the thin and crisp, the oatmeal, the nutty, the ones that you have to whack with a spatula when they come fluffy from the oven. These are definitely a new version we’re adding to our collection, partly because they are classic and chocolately and partly because of the place from which they came. Happy New Year!

Ingredients:
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup organic coconut oil
1 1/2 cups organic coconut sugar
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 1/3 cups all-purpose einkorn flour (want to know more about einkorn flour? check out our book)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped dark chocolate

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350F degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. In a large bowl, cream together butter, coconut oil and coconut sugar. Add eggs and vanilla and mix together. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt; then add this mixture to the bigger bowl. Mix well and stir in the chocolate chips.

Scoop out tablespoon-sized scoops of cookie dough onto prepared baking sheets. Bake for 10 minutes, or until cooked through but not browned. With these cookies, it’s best to undercook rather than overcook. Repeat until all the dough is used up! Enjoy.

Einkorn Spelt Homemade Graham Crackers + Little Gems USA (Giveaway)

My friend Leslie runs a Chicago-based jewelry business called LittleGemsUSA, from which 50 percent of all proceeds go straight to charity. Today it is our pure honor to feature that business here, alongside a recipe for the homemade graham crackers I am obsessed with, and accompanied by a giveaway for the sweet little bracelet I’m wearing in the pictures. I love Leslie and I love what she’s doing, so it was my idea that she do an interview/giveaway (UPDATE: congratulations, Katrina!) here. When she sent me the answers to her questions, I cried, because, in case you’re wondering, she actually is as kind and humble as she sounds. After the Q/A and photos below, you’ll find more information about these graham crackers and more information about Leslie’s business, including how to win the bracelet and you can go purchase jewelry that will support women and children in need. This is one of those posts that I feel really proud of and thankful for, so please do scroll all the way to the end.

homemade-graham-crackers-40

Q: Tell us the short 60-second version of what LittleGemsUSA does. What is it? Why should people know about it?

A: LittleGemsUSA is a jewelry company I started so that women can look stylish and also make a positive impact in the lives of women and children in need. 50% of profits are given to charities that help women and children. Currently we have fashion jewelry as well as gemstones set in sterling silver.

Q: What made you want to start this company?

A: A couple years ago I had my eyes opened to the fact that so many people around me are experiencing immense pain. Just meeting physical needs of food and housing for some people is almost impossible. I looked around and thought, “Why isn’t somebody doing something about this?” I wanted to see big corporations that have big money help fix the problems. I justified myself in thinking I can’t change the world. I’m only me. At some point though, I thought, “What if I helped just one person?” If I was the person praying in desperation, wouldn’t I want someone to at least try? If I fail, at least I fail while trying.

So I started LittleGemsUSA. Crazy as it sounds, I feel it is my worship, whatever happens or doesn’t happen is for God’s Glory. You’ll find these words on the bottom right of every page on my site – Soli Deo Gloria…to God Alone be the Glory.

graham cracker ingredients
making-graham-crackers-in-food-processor
shanna at counter

Q: What has been the most exciting part of working with this business?

A: I don’t know if I would say it’s exciting to me as much as moving. I recall earlier this year when we raised money for women in Rwanda that don’t have work or a way to provide for their family. At the end of the campaign we were able to buy two sewing machines. Going to bed that night it was the first time I knew exactly what this meant for these women. I was moved to tears. For all the struggles to tag inventory and lug it to shows, untangling necklaces and recordkeeping, it was worth it to know that I have helped change the lives of two women. In effect I helped get them a job or a career. Earlier I said what if I just helped one person, but now I knew I had helped two. It was exciting, yes, but I’m prone to water works so, crying it out brought joy, if that makes sense. A childhood friend is in Rwanda (single, young woman) so her charity, Love Alive International, is near to my heart.

Through charities, we have helped victims of trafficking here in Chicago, helped keep girls off the streets in India, bought Christmas gifts for kids, bought two sewing machines for two women in Rwanda, supported a sports program in Chicago that keeps kids safe from gangs, raised funds for school supplies for underprivileged children and also funds to send six children to school in Rwanda. Now we are raising money for Angel Tree to purchase Christmas gifts for children whose parents are incarcerated. These are kids that most of us are not thinking about.

rectangle graham crackers
flower graham crackers

Q: What are some of your biggest challenges?

A: My biggest challenge is getting the word out about LittleGemsUSA.com. I am not the person that wants to ask favors of friends. I’m an independent single woman and I want to get it done myself. I want to be the one helping others, but the fact is that I can’t do this alone. You start a business and realize you have to know something about everything….impossible. I have to depend on my sisters (they help me constantly) and people I’ve met online to help spread the word. I work full-time so my lunch hours and evenings are spent trying to learn about marketing or websites. It’s like you’re drinking from a fire hose. But most of all I need help of people like me that think they are just “one person” [because] that one person has a voice. Follow us and share our posts and you’ll be putting your hand out and pulling a person up who is praying for that hand of help.

homemade einkorn spelt graham crackers with molasses

Q: How can we help?

A: Please join our email list [scroll to the bottom of the homepage for the signup form]. Other than [this giveaway at Food Loves Writing], the giveaways that I do are only for those who are on my list. Also, follow us on Instagram or Facebook. We put most of our content there.

Q: If someone wants to buy a Christmas gift through LG, what would he or she need to do? How does it work?

Go to our website and select the Store menu option. You’ll see categories on the side, or [you can] browse through everything. We accept credit cards, and orders over $50 receive free shipping. After you purchase, the order comes in to me. I get home from work, first make myself a cup of Shanna’s hot chocolate [haha!], then wrap the LittleGem and get it out to the post office the next day on my lunch hour. I collect the money throughout the campaign, subtract out expenses and then give half the profit to charity.

einkorn spelt graham crackers kissed with molasses

For more information about LittleGemsUSA, go straight to its website and shop now! Oh! And every commenter on this post will be automatically entered in the giveaway, which ends next Saturday, December 20. For a bonus entry, let us know you subscribed to the LittleGems newsletter!

Now for the graham crackers!

Einkorn Spelt Homemade Graham Crackers Kissed with Molasses
About 3 dozen, give or take, depending on the size of your crackers

One day last week I was mega craving homemade crackers and went on Instagram, where I found a pretty picture of molasses crackers that sent me straight to experiment. While I never found that user’s recipe, I did find scores of graham cracker recipes online that used molasses, and playing around with those formulas, using einkorn and spelt flours we had on hand, this is what resulted. They are crazy good. I mean, I-ate-a-batch-in-two-days good. Sweet and molasses-y and perfect for eating with a little chocolate on top. Another bonus: you mix everything in the food processor, roll out the dough, slice it and bake it, that’s it. The whole thing is not a long process, and that means faster crackers to enjoy!

A few quick notes:
— The thinner you roll the dough, the crisper crackers you’ll be able to achieve. I found that 1/16″ thickness was ideal, using a dough scraper (like this one!) to pull up the sliced cracker dough from the counter onto parchment. If you go thicker, the dough is easier to work with, but you’ll have more cookie-like crackers, also good, but different. Leave them uncovered for a few days and they’ll get a little firmer, however.

— The smaller you cut the dough, the faster the crackers will cook. We did little fluted rounds and some large and small rectangles. The smallest crackers baked up in 10 to 11 minutes, the largest in more like 13 to 15.

Ingredients:
dry ingredients:
2 cups (plus more for working with dough) all-purpose einkorn flour (want to know more about einkorn flour? check out our book)
1 cup whole-grain spelt flour (or whole-grain einkorn would also work)
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
butter:
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cubed
liquid ingredients:
1/4 cup molasses
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 to 1/2 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Place einkorn and spelt flours, coconut sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in a food processor; pulse to combine. Next, add the cubed butter, and pulse until distributed throughout (i.e., you don’t see huge butter chunks anymore). Last, add the liquids (molasses, honey, 1/4 cup milk and vanilla extract), whirring the food processor until everything is combined. If the dough won’t come together, you can add a little more milk; if you overdo it and the dough is too moist, you can just work in more flour in the next step.

Form into large mass of dough and plop onto floured counter. Split in half, setting unused half in plastic in fridge. Working with remaining dough, roll out to 1/16” thickness or as thin as you can get it. Cut out shapes with a knife or cookie cutters, and place them on your prepared baking sheets. Fork. Bake 10 to 15 minutes, until firm but not burned (watch carefully). Repeat process with second half of dough until all dough has been baked.

If your crackers were a little thick, they may be soft coming out of the oven, but they’ll firm up in a few days if you leave them uncovered on the counter.

Suggested serving ideas:
Dipped in tea
Eaten with squares of chocolate on top
Paired with homemade marshmallows (I want to try these with maple syrup and coconut sugar) and melted chocolate for homemade s’mores
Ground up for homemade graham cracker crusts in pies

*LittleGemsUSA provided the bracelet for the giveaway, but we were not compensated in any other way. All opinions express (other than interview question answers!) are our own.

Tricolor Christmas Cookies

Tricolor Cookies / FoodLovesWriting.com

A few Wednesdays ago, sitting at our weekly dinner with Tim and his brother, Nate, I quizzed them about their favorite Christmas memories. Tim and Nate are two of three children, their older sister still in Ohio with her husband and three kids, and, as two boys only 13 months apart, they shared a room until the day she left home, when they were ages 16 and 17. They stayed housemates, first in Ohio, then in Tennessee, until the day Tim and I got married and he moved out to live with me. So I like asking them together about their childhood because, in the way that your best friend remembers things about that summer road trip that you forget, the two of them round out each other’s stories. “What were some of your favorite Christmas foods?” I was asking the two men that people still call by each other’s name. Tim said pasta. Nate tried to think. But before long they were telling me about the piles of cookies their mom made every year, from cathedral cookies (marshmallows peek out between layers of cookies, creating what looks like stained glass) to kolachkys (a favorite in my childhood, too) to what Tim referred to as “color cookies,” something I’d never heard of before.

“You remember them, Nate, the ones that had food coloring in them? Red and blue and gold and green?”
[Read more…]

Thin & Chewy Einkorn Spice Cookies

Thin & Chewy Spice Cookies

When Tim and I came home from Maine, it was with three or four local publications in tow. Between the food festival, our hotel, and a few Portland kiosks, we’d managed to wind up carting around copies of The Portland Press Herald, Down East MagazineGreen & Healthy Maine, and, amongst some other pamphlets, information packets, and a city map, the source of today’s recipe: Northeast Flavor Magazine. This was partly because people kept giving us the content and partly because I can’t turn a glossy magazine or fresh newspaper down. I’m a sucker for pretty packaging, I’m not ashamed to say it, which is at least part of what’s drawn me so deep into the blogging world, as well as why walking through Anthropologie is my idea of a good time.
[Read more…]

Coconut Sugar Lemon Curd on Gluten-Free Basil Shortbread

Tim and I woke up screaming in the middle of the night last week. I didn’t check the clock when it happened, but it must have been 2 or 3 AM, the only noise the hum of our air filter, the only light our neighbor’s driveway flood lamp. Even with our blinds closed, the flood light still filters in, our unavoidable night-light while we sleep; we’ve said many times that we should buy drapes to make the room darker, but, two years in, we haven’t. The first thought I had was, I’m screaming! The second was, Tim’s screaming! He’d been having a nightmare, his explanation came out in a slow mumble. In the midst of it, he was about to fall off the bed, bringing our blue quilt with him, but just before he could, his legs kicked and his eyes opened and he screamed, louder than I knew he could scream, and right in that deep-sleeping moment, my body joined in.

The next day, after we’d replayed the entire experience for each other, right down to the way I nervous-laughed for about seven minutes after waking up, imagining our poor upstairs neighbor wondering what was going on, I finished my work hours and Tim said, Go do something that refreshes you—Go bake! And I made lemon curd.

lemon curd on basil shortbread

I got the idea because someone I follow on Instagram made a lemon curd tart recently, saying how it’s the simplest set of ingredients, just egg yolks, sugar, lemon, and butter, and the day after the Screaming Episode, simple seemed like just the thing. [Read more…]