As Easy As Riding A Bike

At the behest of a good friend of mine, I'm posting today even though I don't have a recipe to share. Instead spurred by a recent post of hers I'm going to share a story about our trip to Paris last year.

Back in September, I met my husband in Europe after he had been working overseas for 2 1/2 months. We met in Germany and flew to Paris together for 2 glorious weeks of good food. I could tell you about all the amazing cheese we ate.

Or the amazing manicured gardens we visited.

Or the ridiculous pastries and sweets we ate on a daily basis.

Or even the amazing open air markets we visited and the food we ate from the markets.

Instead, spurred by this same friend and her recounting of a recent bicycle adventure, I'm going to share my own bicycle comedy.

But. Did I mention the cheese?

Like anyone who has watched Amelie and dreamed of going to Paris, I had visions of what I wanted to do (and of course eat) in Paris. One of the "to do" items on my list. Ride a Velib in the City of Lights. Easy enough. So I thought.

My first encounter using a Velib in Paris was less than romantic and more of a matter of not wanting to walk the mile to Sacre Coeur. We had done a lot of walking in the previous days and I thought it would be easier. Overall, it was and while I didn't feel quite as comfortable on the bike as my cycling husband, I did ok. Well, at least that's how I remember it.

The second time we used the Velib system, we picked up bikes near Galeries Lafayette. For those of you unfamiliar with Paris, this is a bustling area of the city with lots of pedestrian and vehicle traffic. Red flag number one. 

Anyhow, we picked up the bikes and headed straight into the bustle of midday traffic. My husband's only request of me was to follow him. Simple enough I thought, since he's a seasoned cyclist and can maneuver through traffic well. Red flag number two.

Our destination was the Left Bank, so we planned on cutting through the Louvre and crossing at Pont du Carrousel. Red flag three.

I followed my husband diligently for about a 1/4 mile, after which I became so enchanted by the fact that I was in Paris. On a bike. Passing the Louvre. Folks it doesn't get much better than that. And in fact, it didn't. 

Like I mentioned, I was feeling pretty good about myself after that first 1/4 mile and was enjoying the scenery all around. I somehow managed to get beside my husband as we approached the Louvre and were getting ready to cross the Seine. As we started to cross the Seine I started to pull away from my husband and into the middle of traffic. Literally. Instead of riding along on the farthest right lane, I had managed to ride myself across 2 lanes of traffic (if you can call them lanes) and found myself amongst an angry motorbike and a honking car. There could have possibly been lots more honking, but at this point I was fearing for my life and couldn't tell you with any certainty.

In the blink of an eye, I was jarred from my perfect Paris ride and couldn't figure out how to get back into the correct lane. So, I did what any sane, scared person would do. I rode right back across two lanes of traffic. Once on across and on the sidewalk, I promptly jumped off and got the ugliest stare from mon ami. In all fairness, he gave me more of a "what were you thinking you could have gotten yourself killed" worried stare. 

Needless to say we didn't ride any more that day and walked the rest of the way. 

Yet, somehow I managed to convince myself and, more importantly, my husband that we should do it again two days later. I rode white-knuckled all the way and that my friends was the last time we rode in Paris.

I don't know if we'll do it again the next time we find ourselves in Paris, but we'll always have that memory. It may not be the Amelie version, but it's my version. All mine.

Me after our last ride in Paris with a "never again" smile.


Chocolate Chip Cookies

To know me is to know that I can be an indecisive person. I will over analyze and over think just about anything if you give me a chance. From the big things in life to the little things, I will waver up until the last moment. But, if there's one thing in life I'm certain about it's my favorite cookie.

Chocolate Chip. No doubt about it.

It's a classic cookie with simple ingredients and heartwarming, soul-satisfying flavors that no cookie can compete. Well, at least in my opinion.

Like everyone out there who loves a good chocolate chip cookie, I've got one or two recipes that I return to time and time again. There's the now famous New York Times recipe, Kim Boyce's recipe using whole wheat flour, and of course my mother-in-law's recipe (a family classic). But, like a true indecisive, I like to try out new recipes wondering if it just might be a bit better.

In the case of this particular recipe, I was looking for something gluten free. I don't have a gluten allergy or even a sensitivity for that matter. I just like baking with different flours, because of the taste they impart. And, we try to be conscious of how much gluten we eat. It's a thing we do. So, I searched for recipes that included two flours I had on hand. Almond flour and coconut flour. I didn't come up with much that included both, so I tweaked a recipe that I thought had potential.

The original recipe uses only almond flour, but in my experience this tends to create a cookie that's a bit dense. I knew coconut flour would add some lightness, because it absorbs moisture fairly well and creates some crumb. The minor changes worked and this chocolate chip loving lady is satisfied.

Well, for now at least.

Chocolate Chip Cookies
adapted from Meaningful Eats

3/4 cup Earth Balance Natural Buttery Spread
3/4 cup brown sugar 
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups almond flour
1/2 cup coconut flour
1 1/4 cups chocolate chips of choice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and brown sugar. Beat on medium speed until well combined, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, making sure they are thoroughly combined between each addition. Add vanilla and mix until combined.

Add the baking powder, baking soda and salt to batter and mix. Add the almond flour, one cup at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add in the coconut flour and mix well. Fold in the chocolate chips with a wooden spoon and stir until thoroughly combined.

Shape dough into tablespoon rounds and place on prepared baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Press down gently on each round to flatten slightly. Bake for 8-10 minutes, depending on the level of doneness you prefer. Remove from the oven and place cookies on a wire rack to cool. Be careful as you transfer the cookies to the wire rack as they are soft straight from the oven. They will firm up as they cool.