My mind is distracted and I feel paralyzed to do anything productive. It is only the end of March and we are already in high fire danger, which is incredible considering we’ve had over 8 feet of snow in our area since October (remember we were sledding through the snow on our property in January?). I find myself checking the weather and news reports frequently and I gaze out our front windows to see if the fire plumes have flared up again. On Monday a fire developed in the Lower North Fork area of Conifer, a neighboring community. We had powerful wind gusts up to 40 mph that fueled the fire in this beautiful area of Colorado. It started as a few acres, grew to 100 acres, and by the end of the day the fire had engulfed an astonishing 3,800 acres.
This was the view from our front deck on Monday afternoon; the white on the ground at the bottom right is snow! As of this afternoon, the fire is 15% contained and over 20 homes have been lost, as well as 2 people. My stomach is in knots and I feel the devastation in my soul. I can’t help but think of my neighbor’s loss, the animals and wildlife that have been displaced – or lost – and the stunning mountainsides that have been forever altered. My worry is all-consuming yet I cannot control Mother Nature. My mind is reeling from the what if questions: what if the winds pick up (they are supposed to this evening) and the embers start a new fire, what if WE have to evacuate – aside from the financial documents, computers, pictures and limited personal effects, how do we choose what to save, what if we experience more fires later in the season…..WHAT IF?!! So to calm my nerves, I turned to chocolate hoping to provide my troubled mind with some respite. Chocolate makes everything better, right?
For something chocolate, I decided to modify my whoopie pie recipe for an easy, sweet treat. They are moist and cake-like, and the perfect companion for some pistachios and chocolate chips. There is no filling as with the whoopie pies and they are pure comfort for the mind and soul, if only for a bit. I cut the recipe in half, used coconut oil instead of shortening and made smaller cookies. The chocolate chips add a gooey goodness and the pistachios offer a nutty crunch with some bright color on top. Delicious and just what I needed!
Thanks to everyone who has called to check in on our safety, we appreciate it! For now, life goes on and we hope that the heroic fire fighters can protect our neighborhoods and quickly get this fire under control. We are in for a long fire season, which forces us to face reality and prepare ourselves and our home with an evacuation plan. Our thoughts are with the families who have been affected by this tragic fire.
On a much lighter note: I’ve been nominated!
Saveur magazine is currently accepting nominations for the best food blog awards. Nominate your favorite blog today (click here) – Hurry, the deadline for entries is March 29 and the winners will be announced April 5!
If you need it, my blog URL is: https://foodiefortwo.wordpress.com/
Eat well and share the love!
Chocolate Pistachio Cookies (print recipe)
Melissa Schenker/Foodie for Two
Serves two foodies: makes about 12 cookies
½ cup flour
1 tablespoon Dutch cocoa
1 ½ teaspoons black onyx cocoa
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 egg yolk
¼ cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons coconut oil (naturally refined, organic)
¼ teaspoon vanilla
¼ cup milk
3 tablespoons chopped pistachios, reserve 1 tablespoon for topping
1 tablespoon semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon 60% cacao chocolate chips
Dry Ingredients: Sift the flour, cocoa powders, baking soda and baking powder into a medium bowl or glass measuring cup and add the salt. If you don’t have a sifter, just use a wire whisk and whisk all ingredients together until well incorporated and no lumps remain. Set aside.
Batter: Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Add the egg yolk to a large glass bowl and mix with a hand-mixer on low setting until yolk is fluffy and light yellow, about 30 seconds. Add in sugar, coconut oil and vanilla and mix on low until well blended. Turn mixer off and add in the flour mixture and milk. Blend on low until just mixed; if needed at the end, scrape down sides with a rubber spatula and gently fold batter together. Add 2 tablespoons pistachios and the chocolate chips and fold in with the spatula.
Heat the oven to 375º and let the batter sit for 10 minutes – this helps the cookies have a fluffier interior and hold their lift.
Using a small cookie scoop (OXO #60, 2 teaspoons) or a tablespoon, add 6 scoops of batter to the sheet pan, at least 2 inches apart, and sprinkle some chopped pistachios on top; cook for 9 minutes. Transfer cookies to a rack to cool and repeat with remaining batter.
- If you don’t have black onyx cocoa (rich and intense flavor, lower fat) substitute Dutch cocoa