Chili And A Baby

Man, the clouds roll in and it’s time for chili.  Now, you say turkey chili and my mind rolls back twenty years ago to a hot, steamy August Sunday when I was 8 months pregnant.  Lord, I was fat.  All I wanted to eat during my pregnancy was eggs scrambled soft in butter for breakfast then for all my other meals I had to have any of the following: orange juice with ice, sautéed spinach in garlic and olive oil, sharp cheddar cheese sandwich on whole wheat with mayo or petite filet mignon.  That’s all I wanted.  It’s no surprise I gained 52 pounds!  52 pounds!   Anyway, I had been cooking and baking up a storm and then freezing individual portions so we would have homemade food at the ready when the baby came.  Jimmy had been traveling like a mad man and was often gone so I had a little time to prepare.  The baby was due the first or second week of September and by cramming in all his trips beforehand he would be home for the birth and then for a few weeks after that.  Next on my list of foods to prepare was Turkey Chili.  I had been cooking all day when Jim and Dana came over to share a few laughs and a bowl of the red stuff.  Having known Dana just about all my life I did not feel it was necessary to clean myself up or even bathe.  Cooking with onions and garlic you can only imagine how I smelled.  Like a cheap diner.  They were in the study laughing and eating and calling for me to join them.  On my way out of the kitchen I ducked into the bathroom for a quick winkytink.  When I finished I stood up and while buttoning up I tinkled.  Again.  All over myself and my clothing.  Ohmygosh!!  I felt faint.  What if it WASN’T tinkle?  What if my water had broken?? It hit me like a thunderbolt what I had read in every pregnant girl’s bible, “What To Expect When You’re Expecting”.  It was really quite lovely the way it was put.  The book said that the water, when your water breaks, smells like “freshly cut hay”.  Crazy, huh?  I smelled my panties.  Ohmygosh!! Could that be freshly cut hay?  I screamed for Dana through the locked door, “MIIIIIISSSSSSSY!!! MIIIIISSSSSY!”.  She came running. “What? What?”, she asked as I DRAGGED her into the bathroom, half naked.  “Missy”, I said.  “I don’t think I’ve ever really asked anything from you but I am now.  Look.  I KNOW this sounds ridiculous but I think my water just broke and I need you to smell this and tell me if it smells like freshly cut hay. MISSY!!!! PLEASE!!”.  I thrust the panties in her face.  She looked at me long.  And she looked at me hard.  And then she said, “OK.”  As she took a whiff her eyes got big and with an ecstatic smile on her face made her pronouncement, “Oh my gosh, Missy!  It smells like freshly cut hay!”.  That’s my girl!  I was weak with fear.  “JIIMMYYY!  It’s time!  It’s time!”,  I called.  “What do you mean?”, he asked since the baby wasn’t due for another three to four weeks.  I quickly explained and started making preparations to leave the house while my words slowly sank in.  It was about one or two o’clock in the afternoon.  With a towel shoved up between my legs off I waddled to the car.  I remember what I wore.  A pink sleeveless Laura Ashley sundress with tiny flowers on it and hot pink flats.  The ride to hospital was absolutely surreal.  Like the ride to the church the day you marry.  It is life altering.  At Holy Cross the nurses went through what I guessed to be the usual child-birth preparations.  There was weigh in… OOOLAWD!!!  An IV was started and then came a thousand questions.  Here are my favorites.  “Have you eaten today?”  “Yes.”  “When?”  “About and hour ago.”  “Okay.  And what did you have?”  ” Uh, a big bowl of chili.”  All of the nurses, assistants and techs stopped mid-task.  In unison they ALL yelled “Eeeeeww!! Chili!!  She had chili!  It’ll be everywhere!! Oh, Christ!”  Apparently many women have bad reactions to some of the anesthetics etc. given to them and barf uncontrollably.  But I didn’t!  I never did.  My doctor arrived and after a quick exam made the determination that not only was the baby breach but a dangling breach. (One leg pointing north and one pointing south.)  I would have to have an emergency C-section.  The baby would not live without one.  I didn’t care long as long as I got my baby.  They wheeled me into the operating room where all manner of machines and lights, cords and beeping things were already assembled for the performance of my life.  A tall blue cloth screen was set up on my chest to block my view of the surgery.  Jimmy was right there with me.  All along he said he wasn’t going in, that that just wasn’t for him, that he had NO desire to cut the umbilical cord or anything else for that matter.  Jimmy don’t do blood and guts.  He doesn’t even do splinters. He’s a candy-ass.  I felt nothing but knew my team was “down there” cutting and snipping away.  All of a sudden my doctor said “I’ve got ‘im.  Jim, would you like to cut the cord?”  The umbilical cord is really nasty looking.  Blue and red and thick and white.  Nasty.  I knew my man would be white as a sheet at the sight of that and ready to faint.  But that man ponied right up and cut that thing right through!  Just as calm and cool as if it was the fourth child.  They whisked the baby off to some sort of holding table and I could see by straining my head to one side that they were working frantically.  Something seemed to be going wrong.  And there was no sound.  I remember looking at Jimmy giving him the look that said, “Please!  Please!  Tell me it’s okay!! What’s wrong?  What is it?” And then I heard it.  That newborn “Wah! Wah!”!! I was thrilled!  A boy!!  A beautiful baby boy!  They placed him way on my chest wearing a little Carolina blue (how did they know?!) knit hat.  My first words to my precious angel were something to the effect of, “Hey, Buddy!  Well, don’t you just look like you held up the 7-11?  Hmm?”.  It was the hat.  He looked like a little robber.  He was so perfect.  He blinked at me.  He recognized my voice!  And he was mine.  I was the luckiest girl in the world!!

This chili is super good.  I have a special ingredient that just makes it rock!  Chipotle peppers in adobo.  They’re sold in all supermarkets in the Hispanic, (AKA “taco”) section.  And like all dishes with tomato involved, it’s better the next day and freezes well.  And can be pretty low in fat.  I wouldn’t say the chipotles are screaming hot but they’re considerably spicy and that’s from someone who likes really spicy, hot food.  So hold back a little bit and taste as you go along.  You can always add more but if you add too much…well, good luck getting it out!

Turkey Chili (or Beef)

yield: one big pot

  • 2 20 ounce packages ground turkey or the equivalent for beef.  I use Jennie-O ground turkey.
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 3 cubanelle peppers or two green bell peppers, chopped
  • 7-8 finely chopped fresh garlic cloves
  • 2-3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 7 ounce can chipotle peppers in adobo
  • 1 6 ounce can tomato paste
  • 2 28 ounce cans whole tomatoes, I use San Marzano
  • 3 15 ounce cans red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. In a large pot spray insides with nonstick spray.
  2. Heat pot to medium high and add ground turkey.  DO NOT break up the pieces!  You want the turkey to brown and stay chunky so don’t mix the turkey yet.  If using ground beef if can be broken up as it keeps its shape better.
  3. After 4-5 minutes gently turn the meat over to brown the other side.
  4. When the turkey or beef has cooked through add the onion, chopped peppers and garlic. Lower heat to medium and stir as needed.
  5. Empty chipotle peppers and sauce into a deep vessel or deep bowl.  Using the empty chipotle can, pour 2 cans of water into the bowl and puree very, VERY carefully.  I use an immersion blender but a regular blender or food processor is just fine.  Be very careful not to get the mixture on your fingers and please don’t touch your eyes!  This stuff is hot and you’ll cry for days.  Well, maybe not days but for a while anyway.
  6. To the pot add 1/4 of the chipotle mixture.  You can eyeball it.
  7. Add the whole tomatoes with juices and break up the tomatoes with your mixing spoon.
  8. Add kidney beans and tomato paste.  Break up the tomato paste, mixing well.
  9. Taste for any salt or pepper needed and add any chipotle mixture needed, again tasting as you go.
  10. Add water if you want it thinner.  Add 1-2 tablespoons of cornmeal if you’d like it thicker.
  11. Simmer on low for 30-45 minutes or until flavors have melded.

Easy Frozen Blender Drinks

Oh, we had such a good time this morning!! Dad and I have been going to Sedano’s every Saturday as of late instead of the Swap Shop. Sedano’s is an enormous hispanic grocery store. We find all manner of treasures there. Today we found wild caught snapper and wild caught mahi for $6.99 A POUND!!!!! And gorgeous watermelons at 99¢ EACH!!! It’s a bit of a drive but it allows us the opportunity to small talk or reveal past adventures.  Never one to disappoint, Dad shared another adventure.  All the while I racked my culinary memory bank to put together a Memorial Day/send off menu. James is leaving for a summer internship on Tuesday and my goal was to serve the dishes he loved that he would most probably not have while he was away. On we cruised down Federal Highway when Dad turned to me and said , “Yeah, that’s like when I was working in Panama right before Pearl harbor and after having eaten chicken sandwiches for over a month they told me, “Jack!!! What are you doin’?? Don’t eat that stuff!! It ain’t chicken, that’s iguana you been eating’!!!!” Haha!! We laughed and I started asking questions. “Dad, I thought you went to Panama AFTER Pearl Harbor”. Apparently not. That man’s parents let him go to Panama at 18 straight out of high school!!! They knew no one down there, he had no work lined up and hadn’t even arranged lodging!! Can you imagine??!! But all those details fell into place and soon there was a routine set.  He told me of sailors and passengers he met on freighters.  He shared the details of virtual strangers who had shown him such kindnesses, taking him in or offering him a meal.  He told me about fights he saw one where a man and woman were on the street corner using KNIVES on each other, screaming and pulling hair.  He said no one intervened, no one even watched!  But Dad did.  He said the woman was down and the man was kicking her.  Then she jumped up and whaled on the man!  He said she really held her own.  Nice.  It was one rough town.  Dad was in Panama to work on the railroad for a couple of months and when his time there was coming to an end he said he was more than ready to go.  Then he said without thinking, “It was okay. I had made friends with a girl who was a hooker and she was really nice to me” and my response was, “DAAAAAD!!!!! What was her name?”. Sheepishly he replied “Hell, I don’t know!!” We laughed and laughed and drove on. Past the casinos and discount cigarette stores we continued on our journey.  I still didn’t know what I’d be serving the family. I thought maybe fried chicken, but quite frankly that’s a lot of work. Nothing was gelling. Jimmy can’t be out on the grill, it’s just too hot and again, a lot of work. We arrived at Sedano’s, parked the car and strolled into the store. Salsa was playing in the parking lot, men of all ages were chatting and smoking cigars. I started getting excited. Dad perused the beans and soups in the hot case and that’s when it came to me. Pernil al horno! Roast pork Puerto Rican style! And you can’t have roast pork without rice and beans. Green beans are on sale. I’ll make them stewed, Greek style with feta on top.  Plus zucchini casserole. I’m  liking this! We always stop at Delaware Chicken Farm and besides supplies for the week I can pick up some really good smoked fish dip. Oh, yeah! With saltine crackers? It’s the only way to have it!  Aaaaah!  Frozen rum drinks!  I had a hunch Sedano’s would have frozen  tropical fruit pulp and passing the frozen cases I saw I was right. Guava, soursop and passion fruit.  Nothing says PARTAY on a hot, steamy day than a frozen rum drink! Or two!  The minute I got home I dressed the pork shoulder, stuck it in the refrigerator to marinate overnight and topped and tailed the green beans.  The following morning I put my red beans in a bowl of cold water to soak and grated the zucchini for the casserole.  What an easy menu and I knew it would be enjoyed by all!  I will admit I had been getting increasingly emotional at the thought of James leaving again.  Right before the family started arriving he turned to me in the kitchen and, in a somewhat reproachful tone asked, “You’re not going to be sad while I’m gone are you?”.  And right at that moment I resolved that I would NOT be sad while he was away.  This is a magnificent opportunity, possibly life changing, so, no, I’m not going to be sad.  And I haven’t been either!  I thought that was the appropriate moment to get the blender cranked and start churning out some frosty rum treats.  Virgin frozen drinks for the kids.  So, so good!  We all agreed that the best was Parcha, Passion Fruit.  It’s like the best tasting fruit perfume you’ll ever have!  Anyway, we laughed and told stories.   We teased each other and laughed some more.  The Tinies, who are no longer tiny, took pictures of each other, everybody, and anyone who would accommodate them by making a funny face!!  The house sang with the relaxed happiness of people who love each other and know how to party.  Happy, happy, happy!  So I give you Easy Frozen Blender Drinks!  It’s one more way to keep cool in the tropics!

The beauty of this drink is it’s so versatile plus not only is it easy on the eyes but easy going down!  Vodka can be used but I prefer rum.  The mixes can be any mixture of frozen fruits and fruit juices.  If your frozen fruit mix is exceptionally sweet then a few squeezes of fresh lime or orange juice is great.  Citrus keeps the final drink from becoming cloying.  Tamarind, pineapple, guava, mango all of them are great.  And don’t forget frozen limeade and lemonade.  They’re delicious and readily available.  So start up the blender and cool down for summer.  It’s hot!!

Easy Frozen Blender Drinks

yield: one blender full, pour at will!

  • 1 12 ounce can frozen fruit pulp or juice
  • 1/2 to 1 juiced lime, if fruit is really sweet
  • 1/2 can Rum
  • ice, and lots of it!

  1. To blender add can of fruit drink, citrus juice if using.
  2. Fill the empty fruit juice can with Rum up to the halfway mark.
  3. Pack blender to the top with ice and secure lid firmly.
  4. Pulse blender until mixture is smooth enough to blend without the drink freezing up.
  5. Serve immediately.

Whole Wheat Coconut Ginger Scones


This morning on my walk I had my iPod cranked as usual when a medley of songs came on.  Puerto Rican salsa.  I love it. It makes me so happy I want to dance in the street and I sometimes do if no one’s around.  It made me think of the time I spent in Puerto Rico when I was working with Delta and one of my dearest friends, Rita.  Rita was born and raised in Puerto Rico, also started with Delta and, from the moment we met, we clicked.  She was the person who kept me roaring with laughter and almost always in trouble.   She was part of the Delta group who would go out dancing at all the fancy clubs in Old San Juan.  We had a blast.  We were all in our early twenties, gorgeous, happy, and looks for days.  When we’d tumble out of the last club, hot from dancing and slightly tipsy from one too many rum drinks, we’d all make a beeline for the churro cart.  It was parked in front of the cathedral, always, always, always, and the little churro man would start serving up the sweet, steaming pastry.  There would predictably be seven or eight of us, all chattering away a mile a minute.  “Oh, my gosh! Did you all see who I danced with? He is so cute!” or “I can’t believe he didn’t come here tonight!  What if I don’t ever see him again?” and then ALWAYS “Yeah, you know that guy I danced with all night?  Well, guess what?  He’s married.  Yep.  Pendejo.”  We’d laugh and tease each other, “Oye, nena.  Yo te vi!  Aha.  Yo te vi con ese papito!!”  We’d each finish our churros and made-by-hand hot chocolate and, one by one, slowly make our goodnights.  Monday would be here soon enough and we would all be back at work.  And it was one of those workdays that Rita and I came tearing back from lunch and cut through the front of the ticket office.  It must have been a Friday because she and I were flying out for the weekend, she to visit friends and I was headed home.  Anyway, we tore through the ticket office to get to the reservations office, where we worked.  And there, sitting all slouched and bad boy, was the Prince of Cute.  I would say our eyes met, but that was not the case.  He slowly took me in, eyes clearly enjoying what they saw, lazily looking up and down with a most naughty grin on his face.  I have to admit, I did the same.  His body language screamed privilege and indulgence.  The kind of boy who could, and would, play tennis at the club all day then drink and gamble all night.  My kinda guy.  I flashed him my best “I’m better looking than you” smile.  Who cares?  I’d never see him again.  Oh, man, but he was so darned cute.  I glanced down at the ticket  that my co-worker, Ketti, was issuing him… Toten Bacardi.  Yes.  Of the Bacardi dynasty.  Damn.  Rita whispered, “Hurry up, conyo! We’re late!” and we quickly disappeared into the reservation cave.  At the end of the day, we split a cab to the airport, and after catching up with our airport friends, settled into our seats.  As airline employees we had to dress well and be discreet.  After all, our travel was essentially free.  We traveled just about anytime we wanted, and almost always in first class.  We were seated in the very last two seats of first.  “Thank you.  I’d love a glass of champagne!” and that’s when I saw him.  My noontime ne’er-do-well.   Senor Sardonic.  This time our eyes met. He gave me an “Ah ha!” smile and I responded with a “Helloooo” smile, with that, he dropped down into his seat five or six rows in front of me.  Wheels down and we’re off.  I told Rita everything.  We laughed and giggled far into the flight, when I mentioned to her I was going to the restroom.  I was making my move.  Rita, in her true-to-form crazy way issued a dare… a double-dog dare.  She threw down the devil-may-care, all or nothing challenge.  “Fleje,” she said to me.  That was our nickname for each other, it’s slang for a little piece of dead cuticle.  “Fleje, I dare you, no, I double-dog dare you to do something cafre, tacky, really tacky.”  Jeeez.  Back then a dare to me was like waving a red cape in front of a bull.  I truly gave no thought to repercussions or consequences.   I had absolutely no guilt what so ever.  And neither did she.  Maybe we were a little too foolish.  But I wanted to date him.  I wanted to run with the big boys.  At least for a little while.  Only now I couldn’t.  Because of the dare.  Rising out of my seat, and to the occasion, I made my way down the aisle to the restroom.  I fluffed my hair and checked my lipstick.  I admired my outfit.  I remember what I had on.  It came from “the store”, my father’s clothing store.  Size 4, cotton, Christian Dior, 2-piece top with skirt, in a pale blue print.  Seriously feminine.  With 4-inch, cafe con leche colored leather heels.  Tres, tres sexy.  I shook my head with regret.  I knew what I had to do.  As I opened the door to the restroom, my gaze swept the first class section.  There he was, aisle seat, of course.  I made my way down the aisle, and as I approached him, our eyes met.  Closer and closer I approached and when I was almost a mere breath away, I did it.  I met the challenge.  I sucked my teeth.  Loudly.  Tongue to the upper right canine, slurping as though I had the world’s largest piece of mango string stuck up there.  And that closed the deal.  At once he looked away with distaste and revulsion.  He was lost forever.  Rita, however, observing it ALL,  applauded and toasted my inventiveness and creativity.  After all, boys were like buses.  Miss one, there’s another right around the corner.  So, for my querida Rita, I bring to the table Whole Wheat Coconut Ginger Scones.  Not exactly churros, but for a couple of ex-It girls, they’ll do just fine!

These scones are so great. Easy and not that bad for you. I swapped out for coconut cream, a thick coconut paste, for the oil that I couldn’t find.  Most Caribbean or Indian markets will carry several forms of coconut creams.  I found it at my neighborhood Publix grocery store in the island section.  A little six-ounce box.  These scones call for no dairy products but the coconut cream will give you the same result as butter, a rich and flaky texture. And if you’ve never baked with whole wheat pastry flour, try it. Unlike whole wheat all-purpose flour, whole wheat pastry flour yields a light, tender product.  I’m crazy about it.  The recipe originally came from the New York Times, I made a few small adjustments.  You’re welcome to do the same.  Ginger butter, spiced cream cheese and hot chocolate all go really well with these.


Whole Wheat Coconut Ginger Scones

  • Servings: 12
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar, I use light brown
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons coconut cream or oil, not the stuff in the can, the cream is a super thick paste
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 cup finely diced candied ginger


  1. Pre-heat oven to 400°.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Sift together, I use a whisk, flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda.  Stir in the sugar breaking any lumps.
  3. Place in your food processor the plastic blade.  The metal blade can heat up your dough, never good.  Add your flour mixture then the coconut cream.
  4. Pulse until the flour has the consistency of coarse cornmeal.
  5. Beat together the buttermilk and honey and add to the food processor.
  6. Add the ginger and process all until the dough just comes together.
  7. Place dough on a very lightly floured work surface and shape into a 3/4″ thick rectangle.
  8. Cut into six squares then cut each square diagonally into triangles.
  9. Place the 12 scones onto the parchment paper and bake 15 minutes.
  10. Cool on a rack.

Double Chocolate Pistachio Biscotti for my Chocolate Queen

I love those special days, Mother’s Day being one, when everyone’s nice to you and you get to do anything you want.  I got out of bed this morning when I wanted to, got dressed and left the house to work out.  What a gorgeous day!!  The sun was out and stiff breezes kept me cool.  An hour later I returned home red-faced, wet and happy knowing I won’t have to do this again until tomorrow!  I prepared my breakfast while listening to Rick Steve’s travel program on NPR.  It was a predictable Mother’s Day program but I almost lost it when he spoke of his mother who had passed away a few days after this past Christmas.  It was quite touching.  He spoke of the gifts his mother had given him and credited her with giving him the gift of travel.  Made me think of our Cookie.  She was so cool, we just didn’t know it!   She gave us the gift of language when she insisted we speak Spanish.  Keep in mind, when I was growing up, there were really no Hispanics in Fort Lauderdale.  Granted, we traveled often to Puerto Rico and would stay for long periods of time, but we also had to write our thank you notes and letters in Spanish and her frequent calls to the family meant WE had to actively participate in those conversations.  I’d always try to sneak out of the house when I heard her speaking in Spanish on the telephone.  And I’d always get caught.  Mama would pull me to the phone, hissing in my ear “YOU GET ON THE PHONE RIGHT NOW AND SAY HELLO TO EVERYONE.  DO NOT EMBARRASS ME!”.  I hated it.  With a dark and sullen look on my face I would brightly say, “Hi, Madrinita!  It’s Alicia.  How are you?”.  I could feel my tongue getting thick and tangled up and self-consciousness would creep in.  Well, guess what?  At 56 years old I still speak Spanish.  Relatively well, and without an accent.  I can thank Mama for the gift of language.  That just staggers me.  She gave us ANOTHER LANGUAGE.  Mama also gave us the gift of faith.  We were all raised Catholic and we WERE at church every Sunday morning.  And we went to catechism.  Holy days of obligation were always observed and confession was said every week.  I don’t talk about it much because religion is extremely intimate to me.  Faith was not a big deal until I hit a rough patch.  Loneliness and fear struck debilitating blows at 3:00 in the morning.  Anger, pain and confusion played dominant roles in my pathetic, crumbling life.  What did I do?  More importantly, where did I turn?  My church.   Mama had given us the foundation and solace of religion.  Without it, I would not be here today.  ‘Nuff said.  On a more shallow note, she taught us to appreciate….JEWELS!!!  Pearls, gold, rubies, emeralds, it matters not which stone.  If you love it, it CAN be yours!  Anything!  A car.  That $800.00 bag you just can’t live without.  Save.  Just save.  She taught me that even 10 bucks a week will one day become seven thousand dollars and, you TOO, can be the proud owner of the fillintheblank!  She taught us no matter how little money you have, you can always save.  You girls out there need to pay attention to this.  Open your own account and keep it.  Maintain it.  You don’t have to tell anybody, either.  It’s MORE than humiliating to have to ask.  It’s contemptible to have to ask a man.  Get it yourself and you’ll enjoy whatever it is way more!  Mama taught us, in NO uncertain terms, your name is one of the few things you always have.  You represent your entire family…in my case, the Puerto Rican, the French, the English, and the more recent Greek.  Anytime we’d leave the house, especially after nightfall, she would call out to us, “Fly your banner high!”.  I have to admit, I made more wrong choices than I would have liked, but there WERE times when her words would ring in my ears and I did the right thing.  “Fly your banner high.”  I really do believe we all did.  Well, at least we tried!

My birthday, 2006

Mama loved chocolate.  One could safely say she loved chocolate as she would have a fifth child!  It mattered not if it was a Snickers bar or the finest chocolates of Europe.  She loved them all.  And you could never, EVER, have too much.  She and Daddy never really fussed much but one time, when Dad came home from a speaking trip abroad, he mentioned to her that he had been given boxes and boxes of fine Swiss and French chocolates, gifts from his clients.  He didn’t want to be weighted down or inconvenienced by carrying them on the flight home so he just left them unopened in the hotel room for the chambermaid.  Mama was furious.  She just BLEW UP.  “But, Jackson, you KNOW how I love chocolate!  How could you!! How could you!!”.  It wasn’t pretty.  So, itty bitty precious Mama, I give you CHOCOLATE CHOCOLATE CHIP PISTACHIO BISCOTTI.  And Happy Mother’s Day!  You duh Mama!!!!

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Pistachio Biscotti

yield: 13-14 biscotti not including the end pieces, (they’re the baker’s treat!)

  • 7 tablespoons of softened butter, one is for the baking sheet
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup shelled pistachios
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Line a standard size baking sheet with parchment paper and, using on tablespoon of butter, spread evenly on parchment, down the middle, covering approximately 13 X 5 inches.  Just eyeball it.
  3. In a medium bowl whisk flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.
  4. Using a stand-up mixer if you have one, otherwise use an electric mixer or arm power, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  5. Add eggs and beat until well combined.
  6. Add flour mixture and stir to form a stiff dough.
  7. Add pistachios and chocolate chips.  I stir this addition in by hand.
  8. Transfer dough to prepared parchment paper and form into a 12″ X 4″ flat log.  Smooth and shape where needed.
  9. Bake until slightly firm, roughly 25 minutes.
  10. Remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes.
  11. Reduce oven temperature to 300°.
  12. Transfer log to a cutting board and cut diagonally into 1″ thick slices.  I always use a serrated knife.
  13. Return to baking sheet, cut side down, and bake until crisp but still slightly soft in the center, about 8-10 minutes.
  14. Cool completely before storing.

An Unexpected Friend

Banging around the kitchen this evening, I heard an interview on NPR of Greece’s ex-PM, George Papandreou.  I had just gotten home, still had to change my clothes but first let me just straighten this, wait, let me put that away… Y’all know what I mean.  As I wiped down the counters, or did something equally significant, I stopped to listen.  There were no surprises in his comments but they DID turn my cerebral energies towards my island, my heaven, one of the most beautiful places on this planet.  Lesvos, Greece.  I thought of our daily activities and all the people we’ve gotten to know…and really like.  Not just family, but shop owners, hotel staff, restaurant owners, waiters, locals, dogs, donkeys, horses, farmers, our tastes run the gamut!

We try to go for at least two or three weeks every summer but last year, when the temperature in the house soared to the high eighty-somethings, we took the envelope marked VACATION 2011 and handed it to the AC man.  Yes, we needed an entire new central air system.  So it’s been two years this summer since we’ve been to Greece.  I miss it.  And I worry about it.  We’re going this August.  What will we find? Thankfully, the island of Lesvos is not dependant on tourism.  We’re usually about the only Americans there!  None the less, I’m sure the island, like the entire country, is reeling from this hideous financial quagmire.  I thought of my early morning runs,

never starting later than 6:30  in the morning because of the crushing heat.  The sun would start coming up at 5:30, I would see it peeking through the hotel curtains.  It felt soooo good in that bed, especially since we had usually been drinking the night before!  Sunscreen on, contacts in, hair back, shades, cap, music and I was off!  The resort where we stay is terraced and there must be 7 gazillion steps from top to bottom.  Each terrace has vines with velvety, deep orange flowers growing and I would always stop and just look out.  It’s unbelievably magnificent!  The swath of brilliant orange, the ancient, gnarled olive trees and then… the Aegean.

I’d trot down the steps figuring that would be a sufficient warm up, there really isn’t any place to sit and stretch, and, on my way down, decide which direction I would go.  But each morning I would always start in the same direction!  Off I’d go with my walk-man, then in later years, an iPod, music blaring just way too loud for my poor eardrums but I felt incredibly happy and free.  Leaving the Sunrise, that’s where we stay, I ALWAYS turned left and headed towards the hot springs.  I would race-walk on the winding road and my unbreakable rule was any hill, you gotta run.  Up AND down.  Those are the rules.  And you can’t stop unless you come across something really cool or pretty or dead.  My favorites tunes would come on, maybe Bob Seger’s “Katmando” and I would jam!  I would find the most darling little dogs sitting at the end of the driveway of their hotels or family’s summer home every morning. They’d watch, loyally guarding their homestead, and at attention, too!  It took a few years for us to become friends, but we did.  There was a pack of wild dogs that lived on the beach but they didn’t look feral.  They were small and cute, however, as I’m not one to temp the fates, mutual respect was observed by all.  They lived close to the guy who would be homeless except HE INHERITED A SHACK ON THE BEACH AND THE SAND IT SITS ON.  I have a photo of it somewhere, I had to kind of sneak up on it and quickly take the picture before the dogs alerted the man.  Things like that just scare me to death!

Continuing on, I passed older, sprawling hotels, newly renovated with flowers everywhere, lemon and orange trees jumping out from around every corner and majestic swimming pools all lined with local marble.  Old school meets new school.  Up and down the hills I welcomed the gusty winds as I would begin to feel the morning heat.  I’d still be riding on happy, it’s just so incredibly gorgeous.  The Aegean was right next to me, waves gently lapping at the stone beach!!  Can you stand it??!!  When I heard fast, hard music, I’d look around, not that there would ever be anybody out, and play MY version of air guitar.  I love my classic rock and, in years past, would carefully pack my fave CD’s, Allman Brothers, Bob Seger, Lynyrd Skynyrd, ZZ Top.  “Southbound”, “Done Somebody Wrong” or “Tush” would come on and I was in another world.  I ran in some kind of reverie and, when my most loved chorus would come on, I’d burst into a blistering air guitar riff.  And that’s when the sound of a deafening horn BLEW me off the road.  Scared the life out of me!!!  A chain of foul and ugly words spewed forth from my mouth as I was harshly jolted out of La-La land.  Almost falling, I spun around to see who was the dolt, the dunderhead, the ASS who was fixin’ to feel my wrath TAKE.HIM.DOWN.  I turned to see a mammoth tractor, dressed with a flowered wreath and finished with a smokestack train whistle. Seated on the very top was a man with THE biggest handlebar mustache I had ever, EVER seen.  And he was laughing at me.  Yes, laughing.  He had on one of those black and white checked headscarves like Yasser Arafat used to wear.  I spoke no Greek, none, except for my food vocabulary and what was I going to call him?  You freakin’ loser stuffed grape leaf?  Well, I showed him!  I gave him my haughtiest, scathing look and off he chugged, laughing all the way down the road.  In the following days I’d hear him coming and, you bet I made it a point, I would just stand out of the way until he passed.  A full year passed, we’re on vacation, YAY!, and I’m back to working out.  I heard the familiar chug-chug-chug.  As he passed I didn’t reward him with a smile but I did, ever so imperceptibly, give him a polite nod.  That’s it… that’s all he got that year.  Now we’re into the following summer.  Back on the road, hot, sweaty, winding down with Freebird, and I hear it.  Chug-chug-chug.  I was elated!!  By then I had been taking Greek for a few years.  Every so often I would think of this man, almost fondly, during the year especially during winter when the days would get dark early and I longed for a 9:00 p.m. sunset.  Jimmy, Selene and I gave him a name, “My Friend”.  He tooted his horn, still laughing at me, but this time I managed to sputter my name and my nationality as my face lit up with a smile to match his.  I saw him at least every other morning, we’d laugh and wave, I have no idea where he was going or where he’d been.  On my last day I took my camera.  This is before cell phones with cameras.  I’d run, take a few photos, run, take a few photos and then I heard that familiar engine cough.  I turned, smiled and waved.  I gestured with my camera, was it okay?  He just laughed and kept smiling but brought the tractor to a halt giving me enough time to snap a few shots. The sun had just come up and was just blazing away behind him.  It was too, too bright, the photos would NEVER come out!  And I knew he wouldn’t turn the tractor around just so I could take his picture, he seemed to be a real man’s man.  What I had would just have to do.  The following year I never saw him on the road but, one day, driving through some village, in the corner of my eye, I saw him, headdress on, sitting outside a taverna with his cronies flipping his worry beads.  I felt SO much better that I knew my friend was all right!  I hope he’s well.  I hope I see my friend.  And I hope he’s on his tractor.  I’ll keep you posted!

My Friend.

I want to give you a quintessential Greek dish, Baklava.  It’s easy.  You just need a little time.  The nuts are interchangeable so you can combine them any way you’d like.  A syrup is made to pour over the Baklava in the final stages of preparation and either fresh orange or lemon juice and peel can be used.  The spices in the syrup call for cinnamon, but as of late, I’ve also been adding a spice called Mahlep.  Mahlep is the kernel of a kind of wild cherry.  Its flavor is extremely subtle, its addition adds another layer of flavor.  If you don’t have an international market close to you, don’t fret.  It will be still be fabulous!  But if you DO, grab some.  It’s not expensive at all.  The kernels look like enormous sesame seeds.  When I make the syrup, I toss a tablespoon of the mahlep into a ziplock bag and pound it with a pestle, of the mortar and pestle combo, on the counter.  Enough to break it up.

The syrup will later be strained so there’s no right or wrong here.  Butter is now used more frequently between the sheets of phyllo whereas in the past, the fat of choice was high-grade, local olive oil.  As I mentioned, different combinations of nuts can, and are, used.  Walnuts, pistachios, hazelnuts, almonds, even pecans can be gently layered in the sheets of dough, and all taste great!  I hope you won’t let phyllo intimidate or torture you.  Just follow a couple of simple rules and you’ll be golden!  Like the Baklava I’m sure you’ll make!  Oh, and let me be so bold to add, it’s better the next day!


yield: 1 13X9 pan

  • 2-2 1/2 cups finely chopped walnuts, or 1 cup walnuts, the other cup your nut of choice, but finely chopped not ground
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 pound phyllo dough, opened and covered with a clean, damp linen towel.  Turn your ceiling fan off.  It’ll dry out the dough.
  • 1 cup butter, melted
  • 2 cups syrup, at room temp, recipe follows


  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup honey
  • 2-3 wide strips of lemon or orange rind
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon juice if using. 3 tablespoons of juice if using fresh orange.
  • 2 teaspoons of smashed Mahlep, if you can find it.  Greek markets carry it.
  1. Combine all the syrup ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.
  2. Simmer until thickened, maybe 10 to 15 minutes.
  3. Strain into a bowl and let come to room temperature.


  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Mix nuts, cinnamon and 2 tablespoons of butter together in a small bowl and set aside.
  3. Spray the bottom and sides of pan with nonstick spray.
  4. With a pastry brush, butter one sheet of phyllo and place on bottom of pan, taking care to fit into corners.  Don’t worry if any sheets tear, you’ll never know looking at the final product. Butter and stack 9 or 10 sheets.  Ends can hang over as long as they’re buttered.
  5. Scatter 1/3 of the nut mixture over the buttered phyllo.
  6. Butter and layer another 9 or 10 sheets of phyllo and scatter another third of the nut mixture over that.
  7. Repeat once more and finish with the last sheets of buttered phyllo.  Any remaining butter can be liberally brushed all over phyllo.
  8. Using a sharp knife, cut through all the layers, making diamond or square-shaped serving pieces, being careful not to scratch the bottom of your pan.
  9. Holding the pan in one hand, use your other hand to sprinkle water from your faucet aaaaaaallllll over the baklava.  But be careful to only sprinkle, if you drench it it’ll be soggy.  It takes a minute or two but keeps the phyllo edges from curling up.
  10. Bake 40-45 minutes until the top is light gold  and crisp to the touch.
  11. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
  12. When the liquids in the dish no longer sizzle, carefully spoon the syrup in the cuts in between the pieces and around the edges of the baklava.  Try not to pour the syrup over the phyllo because it will make it soggy.
  13. Let it cool completely and when completely cooled, but only then, cover.  Let it sit all day or over night to soak up the syrup.

Derby Day, Y’all! Celebrate with Cheese Straws

Hey, y’all!  It’s Derby Day!  So pull out your Jack Roger’s and Lilly’s, get that hair shiny and big, and let’s gamble!  And drink!  When James was growing up, we always had such a good time at our own Kentucky Derby party.  A couple of hours before the race, we’d start mixing our drinks.  Jimmy and I would have juleps and James would have Sprite with a couple of cherries.  Jimmy would measure from my grandfather’s silver jigger.  Drinks just tasted so much better out of that thing!  And the mint, without fail, came from the garden.  I had juleps for the longest time until the year Jimmy made them with confectioners sugar instead of granulated sugar.  No simple syrup, just powdered sugar.  No muddling, just powdered sugar.  Lordy!  After that I thought, “Why ruin perfectly good bourbon by adding anything to it other than ice??”  And y’all know, I LOOOVE my bourbon!  While I prepared a little pick-up food, James and Jimmy would be cutting out of the newspaper all the names of the horses in the running.  James would then fold them into teeny-tiny bits and into a pretty little bowl they would go.  The pre-race highlights would always be on early and whenever one of us would walk by the television set we’d stop and catch some pretty filly prancing about, tossing her mane, sometimes of the four-legged variety, sometimes of the two.  We’d each carve out our little space in the study and get down to business.  Serious business.

Picking our horses.  Jimmy and I would graciously let James choose first.  After all, he is our child.  He should be awarded first pick in the gambling game!  Round and round we would go until the little bowl was empty and we had our prospective winners before us.  We’d each settle back, leisurely going over each horse, the odds, and it’s stats.  The beauty of our competition was that after randomly picking the horses, you didn’t have to pick the winner, you didn’t have to commit.  All you had to do was hold the name of the winning horse!  As the race would grow closer and closer, I would bring whatever I had prepared, just a little something pretty to nibble on with your drink, something civilized, to the study.  We so enjoyed ourselves!  Then, all of a sudden, we’d hear the first strains of “My Old Kentucky Home”.  Just to mess with James I would insist we ALL stand up while the song played.  I’m mean that way.  The last few years we got together on Derby Day, James just flat out refused to stand up!  “Sorry, Mama. Just ain’t happenin'”.  It was alright because, by then, I had had a couple of cocktails and the song would just about move me to tears!  It is just the saddest!  I mean really!  “…then my old Kentucky Home, good night!”  I’m not alluding to other parts of the song, I recognize they’re controversial, only that it’s a really sad anthem.  However, I am fickle and childlike, so after a few more sips and maybe a bite or two, I was back to my wicked, happy self!  And then came the race!!!  All three of us would start out leaning forward, calling out to our best performers, “C’mon, Easy Grades!”  “Awright, Proud Citizen!” “Do it, War Emblem! Woo hoo!”  Actually, I was the only one that yelled “Woo hoo!”.  The race was over and to the winner went the spoils!  All $27.00!  (Or whatever Jimmy had in his pocket that day!)  If Jimmy won, he’d just put the money back in his wallet and I’d just steal it the following day for groceries!!  If either James or I won, we’d squirrel it away in some top-secret hiding place.  And since we had good food and drink, there were never hurt feelings when the race was over.  Who says gambling isn’t a wholesome family activity?

Cheese straws are one of the many classic Southern foods served at get togethers, big and small.  They are served at parties, luncheons, weddings, funerals, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year and they are served with cocktails.  So, you won’t see too many of them at a church’s Sunday dinner! They’re easy on the eye, uncomplicated and effortless.  Many, and I’m one of them, maintain rolls of cheese straw dough in their refrigerator, especially during holiday times.  It’s as simple as pulling a portioned roll out of the freezer, as it softens, slice and bake!  I’m sure more than a few of you have looked at the photo above and thought, “pecans?”.  Well, I make my cheese straws a little differently thus ratcheting up the flavor just a little bit more.  The pecan takes first place in the South and I am a HUGE fan.  I place the finished dough on a sheet of plastic wrap, fold the plastic over and form the dough into logs.  Tightly wrapped, they chill in the refrigerator to rest and firm up.  When I’m ready to bake I take them out, cut the logs into 1/4″ thick rounds and brush lightly with just a  touch of egg white. To that is crowned a gorgeous, sweet, mahogany pecan half.  Heaven!  Put a pretty glass packed with ice and some really smooth bourbon next to a cunning little plate of these cheese straws… and well, it’s better than cookies and crack!!!


Cheese Straws

  • Servings: approximately 50
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

yield: approx. 50 (but remember you can portion the dough and freeze it for up to 3 months)

  • 1/2 pound extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated and at room temperature
  • 1 stick soft butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper, you can cut back if you like, we like ours with a little kick
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • Whole pecan halves, you’ll need one for each round of dough
  • 1 egg white

Preheat oven to 325°.

  1. Mix all dry ingredients together then add the moist, mixing well. mix into a dough that is somewhat soft and pliable.
  2. Tear sheets of plastic wrap to your desired lengths and drop dough onto plastic wrap.  Fold to cover, shape into logs, wrap well and chill in refrigerator until hard and stiff.
  3. Line a baking pan with parchment paper or tin foil.
  4. Cut dough into rounds no more than 1/4″ thick.
  5. Place rounds on prepared baking sheet, they can be close but leave a quarter-inch between them.
  6. With a brush or your finger, dab a little egg white into the middle of each round and gently but firmly press a pecan half into dough.
  7. Bake 15 to 20 minutes.

Less Time in the Kitchen?

Yesterday I saw the title of an article in a cooking magazine.  “We’ll Show You How to Spend LESS Time in the Kitchen!”, it barked.  Are you kidding?  Thanks but no thanks.  I KNOW how to spend less time in the kitchen; my quest is how to make my time in the kitchen MORE enjoyable. Because I ALREADY take pleasure in it. I finally went to The Fresh Market, which recently opened in our neighborhood, to see if all the hubbub was justified.  I liked it.  It’s extremely well laid out, and tres, TRES jolie.  And y’all know, pretty is very important in my kingdom.  I gauge a good market by whether or not they carry two items.  Mahlep, in seed form or ground, and nigella seeds.  Fresh Market carries neither.  But I DID like it.  I took my time, working my way through produce, and I’ve got to say it looked good.  I was happily surprised by some pretty decent pricing.  As we’re eating less and less meat, organic has become, well, more important.  We eat salad for dinner at least four times a week so when a green, leafy is on sale I give thanks and then I buy a couple!  But then I found myself smack dab in the middle of the bakery section thinking, “I don’t WANT to work anymore.  I want to create.  I want to fiddle with doughs and flavors.  I want to play with fruits and scents.  And textures.”  Mentally stamping my Delman encased foot while changing a line from one of my favorite movies, I thought, “But cha can’t, Blanche.  But cha can’t!”  Well, a girl can dream.  So, to make myself feel better, I bought some big, fat, shiny dried cherries.  And some sweet sunflower seeds.  I bought lavender, pistachios and raspberry honey.  Now I’ll be happier in the kitchen.  I’m playing with homemade granola.  This past Christmas Jimmy made me VERY happy by researching and giving me a spectacular serrated chef’s knife.  He researched it by asking Selene, “Hey, tell me about that knife you’ve got that Alicia wants?” It doesn’t get any easier!!  For all involved!  And makes my time in the kitchen more pleasurable.  Years ago we redid the kitchen and Jimmy suggested since I spend a ridiculous amount of time in there that we bite the financial bullet and get the sink of my dreams.  And, boy howdy, did I!!!  You could bathe two large babies in it with room for toys!  It’s black, matte and sleek.  And STILL gives me a swell of pleasure when I turn around from anywhere in that room and see that spectacular inky hole.  Money well, well spent.  I have five or six cutting boards, and love them all.  Hardwood, bamboo, small to large, each gives me pleasure just by being supremely functional.  A kitchen should be a place of enjoyment, free of anger and tension.  We have the rest of the house for that!!  Truthfully, a bit of thought and planning in the kitchen can turn things around.  It adds to the contentment.  Think of how much nicer it looks when, in June, you get rid of that tall stack of Christmas cards.  You know it’s true!  It’s hard to toss them when they’re the Yuletide photos of family and friends so I take the special ones and use them as bookmarks in my cookbooks.  There must be at least three or four of the Schloss’ in my “The Olive and the Caper” volume.  Megan, Emily and Zach will forever be in grade school in MY kitchen!  And my aunt in Puerto Rico, Titi Myrna, sent us a gorgeous card some years back of a typical Puerto Rican Christmas feast.  It lives happily in “The Art of Caribbean Cookery”, presented to me in 1970 by another aunt, affectionately named “Madrinita”.  Engagement announcements, precious thank you notes, Christmas cards, class pictures, baptism invitations, they ALL make me happy!  And they make terrific bookmarks for those favorite recipes.

Years ago we brought back bottles of Metaxa, a beautiful, Greek brandy-like spirit from one of our summer trips. Lots of memories THERE!  Metaxa is distilled twice, wed with aged muscat wine from Samos and Lemnos, blended and aged in handmade oak casks.  It’s a real sipper and poli divine!  (Poli – the word for “very” in Greek, poh-lee, accent on the second syllable.)  We also brought back bottles of Ouzo, specifically Barbayannis, an aniseed liquor which many people mistakenly shoot, but which is also a sipper.  The bottles we brought back are gorgeous!  Absolutely splendid labels, rich in color AND happy memories.  I kept the empties, then and now, filling them with liquid dishwashing detergent.  I don’t want some mass-produced-made-for-the-masses cheap piece of crap gracing my sink.  I don’t want mediocrity in my kitchen.  It looks poli splendid, gives me such pleasure, and don’t nobody else have it!!!  Rum, wine, champagne, it will all look crazy good!  When I was in college, my friend BL, AKA Betty Lou, had a gorgeous, deep red runner in her kitchen.  That is brilliant.  You ain’t got no little ones?  Put something outstanding on the floor.  It will make your heart sing and make that small space welcoming yet add that surprise wink of sophistication.  I always have music playing, always, classic rock, salsa, whatever helps me prepare a dish and enjoy the color of the food, the sound of chopping, or the scents of aromatics.  I love my time in the kitchen and look forward to Saturday afternoons when the weekly demands have been met and now I owe no one anything.  This is MY time.  I pull out my good flours or chocolates.  My good vanilla or the Greek oregano I THOUGHT I was smuggling back.  Whatever floats my boat that day.  Even if you’re not crazy about cooking, a good-looking kitchen will make that first cup of coffee you pressed even better.  At 6:00 in the morning it’s dark out and utterly still in my house. I look around me and don’t pretend my house is sumptuous or lavish but I love it and think it’s pretty terrific. And most splendid.  I WILL make that olive foccacia, some chocolate chocolate-chip pistachio biscotti or whole wheat coconut ginger scones.

Yesterday Jimmy brought home some stunning irises.  I put them, yeah, you guessed it, in the kitchen.  I look forward to my time in the kitchen.  I L.O.V.E my time in the kitchen.  Oh, hell yeah, it’s time well spent, and I want more.  This is kind of a base granola recipe that I’m crazy about.  I don’t keep any sweets in the house with the exception of baking chocolates, so it can get a little sketchy and tense here when I have a craving and am not quite ready to pluck out an eye to sacrifice to the diet devil.  Thankfully, this is just sweet enough to talk me down.  There is a little bit of brown sugar and a bit o’ honey, just the right amount.  I’m on a dried cherry kick right now along with raw, unsalted pumpkin seeds.  They’re both rich and gorgeous, most pleasing to the eye and the palate.  You can use any seeds or berries as well as mix up the spices.  I think lavender and orange zest would be wonderful together.  Or  pear with dried raspberries and almonds.  To add more flavor and brightness, add fresh citrus zest to the dry ingredients and the juice of the fruit to the wet ingredients.  Try this cinnamon, cardamom, coriander mix.. it’s quite the exotic blend.  Really, the combination is endless.  These are soft bars, I’m just not crazy about that break-your-teeth hard stuff.  So, I use some egg whites to bind the granola together and help it hold its shape.  (It still kind of falls apart.)  So, so good, though.  So, so good!

Soft Granola Bars

  • 3 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup dried cherries, or dried fruit of your choice
  • 1 cup chopped or sliced almonds, or nut of your choice
  • 1 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2-1 cup wheat germ
  • 1/2-3/4 cup honey or maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 3 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  1. Preheat oven to 325°.
  2. Line a 12 X 17 jelly roll pan with tin foil leaving an excess of a few inches to hang over each end of the two short sides.
  3. Spray tin foil with non-stick spray.
  4. In a large bowl combine all the dry ingredients, including the brown sugar and mix well.
  5. In another bowl combine all the wet ingredients, mixing well.
  6. Pour the wet into the dry, stirring until all the dry ingredients are well coated with the honey, oil, egg mixture.
  7. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan and, using wet hands, press the mixture firmly into the pan, making sure it’s reasonably level, and pressed into all corners.
  8. Bake about 35-45 minutes or until a dark golden color.  The baking time varies depending on your humidity level.
  9. Cool on a wire rack but still in the pan.
  10. When cool use the foil as handles and transfer to a counter.  Using a sharp knife, a pizza cutter will not work, cut lengthwise into six strips then crosswise into four strips.
  11. Store in an airtight container or, as in our house, a gallon size freezer bag.

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