Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Final Stateside Post- Chocolate!

Weather permitting, I board a 6 am flight to Washington DC on Sunday and begin my heavily publicized adventure. With the GMAT out of the way, I am now day-dreaming about lush green landscapes and speaking Spanish. The Peace Corps has connected me with a mentor, a young woman who has been in Costa Rica for a year now, to guide me through my first year. I've been lucky enough to chat with her a few times and gain some valuable tips for the upcoming 27 months.

First, hiking boots and Birkenstocks are essentials...and second, good dark chocolate isn't as abundant as one might think.

And so my boots and Birkenstocks lay waiting to be packed, while I present you with the first ingredient of Beyond Rice and Beans...chocolate.

With this blog's official 'first ingredient'. I made a delicious banana coconut chocolate chip cookie in an attempt to evoke the tastes of my future tropical home. I know in some places, like London, chocolate chips are very hard to come by, so please feel free to post any recipe that uses chocolate in anyway-(yes even unwrapping a candy bar counts)!

I made these the day before I took my exam, and didn't want to sugar load, so anyone not on the health food train will find these very...interesting. The recipe is adapted from Heidi Swanson's blog 101cookbooks.

Tropical Chocolate Chip Cookies

Note: The almond meal can be made by pulsing the almonds in a (clean) coffee grinder or food processor, but be careful not to go too far or you'll end up with almond butter. Also coconut oil can be softened by running under warm water.

3 large ripe bananas
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup coconut oil, barely warm (or olive oil works)
2 cups rolled oats
2/3 cup almond meal
1/2 cup coconut, finely shredded & unsweetened
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
6-7 ounces chocolate chips or slivers of a dark chocolate bar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, racks on the top third.

In a large bowl stir together the mashed bananas, vanilla extract, and coconut oil. In another bowl combine the oats, almond meal, shredded coconut, cinnamon, salt, and baking powder. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until combined. Fold in the chocolate slivers/chips. The dough will be different than standard cookie dough (and won't taste as delicious from the bowl)- but don't worry! Drop spoonfuls of the dough, about an inch apart, onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for (around) 14 minutes- I like them when the oats and coconut are a bit toasty and the banana is warm... I can just taste Costa Rica!

And now your turn, what is your favorite recipe or favorite way to eat chocolate?!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Concept

With friends and family all over the world it is getting rather difficult to stay connected. San Francisco, London, Washington D.C., Buenos Aires, New York, Taiwan, Los Angeles, Beijing, Providence, Barcelona, Boston...even constant twittering cannot bring us all together.

Enter: "Beyond Rice and Beans", a blog created to connect individuals through ingredients (thanks Isis).

While I will write anecdotes about my work/life in the Peace Corps in Costa Rica, I will also be including one ingredient a post and creating a dish with the item. Those inclined to participate can cook a recipe using the same ingredient. Once you have also experimented with the ingredient, please share for all to read! This way we can connect over tastes, and perhaps one day enjoy the dishes together.

If you happen to be the type with a fridge filled with nothing more than ketchup and a half-full liter of soda, feel free to find a dish in a restaurant that includes the ingredient. Do not fear if your cooking skills stop at boiling water, even the simplest dishes will be exciting to read about. Just be sure to share a little bit about where you are, bringing the reader with you.