Kwanzaa Culinarians 2014: Cacao Benne Cookies

Cacao Benne Cookies

Make a pot of tea or coffee, light a candle, grab a comfortable seat, and plate a few cacao benne (pronounced benny) cookies. How was your year? Since the time I’ve learned 14 isn’t my favorite number, I’ve cautiously waited for the year of 2014. It’s a painfully honest number. And, when the clock turned 2014 in the midnight hour on January first, I said a silent prayer. God help us. And, as I’ve imaged, this year is a roller coaster of emotions. Russia. Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Ebola in West Africa. Mike Brown and other victims of the police. Family members passing. By the time summer arrived, my stomach was jumping to the tune of “War” sung by The Temptations. Since the beginning of human relationships, I’m sure there’s a country or region involved in war somewhere around the globe. Perhaps, due to my sensitivity to 14, this year’s wars and conflicts deeply troubled me. It’s 2014 communicating, “War… What is it good for?… absolutely nothing…”

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Reeling in Summer Memories

Ginger Almond Plum Galette

This summer was beautiful. We went to plays in parks, on broadway, off-broadway and in our community. It wasn’t too hot, and the air conditioner took care of uncomfortable temperatures that didn’t soar high for too long. We hung out with friends, fine-dined and wined our way around New York City.

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A Salty Surprise

Matcha Sea Salt and Cantaloupe

There are few memories of my first trip to Birmingham, Alabama: Joking uncles, watching Spike Lee movies until sunrise with our cousins and eating sugary cantaloupe. The morning we left Birmingham, it was sweltering hot. My uncle joked about the sweat on my nose being a sign of evil. Being too young and believing every comment, I wiped the sweat off. As the final suitcase was packed into the back of Dad’s truck, our Great Aunt handed us a large container of sliced cantaloupe to enjoy on the long drive back to Virginia. My sister and I were overjoyed about eating more cantaloupe. A few hours later, Mom unsealed the container of cantaloupe slices. The first bite was a salty surprise. We’ve never had cantaloupe with salt, and we didn’t like it. Well, Mom and Dad thought the better of the situation, because it was more for them. My sister and I watched our parents gorge on our sweet cantaloupe ruined with salt.

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An Old-Fashioned Fruit makes a Sweet Comeback

Grapefruit Cornmeal Cake

Citrus season has long passed, but it’s never too late for a Grapefruit Coconut Cake. After all, with limes being expensive (Read or listen about this year’s lime shortages in both NPR’s Tell Me More‘s Michel Martin and Carrie Khan’s articles), grapefruit is proving to be a juicy alternative. That’s not too bad of a comeback, considering The New York Times published a story about the decline of grapefruit’s popularity, which cites similar production and growth problems to limes. The article also discusses grapefruit’s competition with seedless and easy to peel citrus varieties. It’s sour taste doesn’t help its popularity. Despite both lime and grapefruit’s production problems, paying more than a dollar for one lime isn’t realistic.

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Easy Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake with Plenty of Nuts

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

When the my boyfriend’s father was asked what type of birthday cake he wanted, he said, “It doesn’t matter, but make it with plenty of nuts.” The boyfriend’s father is health conscious and a martial arts instructor. He looks excellent for his age, because he’s always exercising, reading health-related books and playing music. Ask him any health-related question, and he has an answer. Such as repeatedly telling us how nuts are good for {blush} men’s reproductive health, and he explains why without the crass. The decision to make him a Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake — with plenty of nuts — was easy.
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