Gluten-Free Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies

This was a surprisingly hard recipe to put together, only because there weren’t all that many recipes to reference on the internet. Half of the chocolate chip cookie recipes that mentioned coconut didn’t use actual coconut — they used coconut oil, or coconut flour (I admit, one of them was mine).

Then you get into the gluten-free world, and my permanent frustration with recipes there: the bulk of them are either dairy-free or totally vegan. That doesn’t fly with me — like Paula Deen, I’m big on butter.

So for this one, I had to use mostly recipes involving wheat flour, then use my old friend science to cobble together a recipe.

Fortunately, I have lots of friends in the baking box who can help. I have the baking box because this apartment doesn’t have all that much kitchen shelf space, so those are full of everyday staples. I think I like the baking box better, anyway — one quick glance and I can see what I have and what I don’t. For dry goods, anyway.

Bear in mind, this recipe is NOT low-carb. In fact, for giggles, I used actual sugar. And the sweetened coconut flakes you get at the grocery store, instead of the unsweetened dry stuff from the Whole Foods. I’ll tell you right off the bat (spoiler alert): these came out a tad bit too sweet. At least for me. Maybe it’s because I’m not used to sweet stuff anymore. Anyhoo, onward!

Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar (probably could have skipped this)
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup + 3 Tbsp coconut flour*
1/4 cup tapioca flour (also known as tapioca starch)
1/4 cup almond meal (also known as almond flour)
1/2 cup sweetened coconut flakes
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips**

* I added the extra 3 Tbsp coconut flour at the end, since the batter still seemed a bit wet. This may be due to the Florida humidity. Your mileage may vary.

** I started with a heaping 1/2 cup, then threw a few more in. It’s chocolate, go nuts.

Cream the butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs. Add the vanilla, salt, and baking soda. Add the flours one at a time, mixing thoroughly each time.

Bake at 375° for 14-18 minutes.

I could have used my Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Baking Mix on this one, but I felt like cobbling. The coconut flour is one of my favorite foundations, but use too much and it sucks up all the liquid. The tapioca flour adds a springy stretchiness that non-wheat flours lack (it’s used to make the amazing cheesy rolls they serve at the Brazilian steakhouse). And almond meal is always welcome for flavor and texture.

Besides being a little too sweet for me (but probably just right for normal people), these are pretty darned good. The coconut adds a chewiness, and coconut flavor is always welcome in my mouth. Unless it’s mixed with pineapple in a pina colada, but that’s neither here nor there.

Overall, I’ll give them an 8 out of 10. Good texture, good flavor, and next time I think I’ll just cut out the regular sugar.

Now that I have this sweetened coconut, it may be time to make some macaroons. Once these cookies are gone, that is. Which should be soon.

Compu-Crafts: More Phone Hijinks!

Yes, I just spent a good portion of last weekend monkeying with my phone. Not only did I do things to the user interface to make it look pretty, but I also installed new software on it.

That software was awesome.

Then, this last Monday, the news came out that with Cyanogen (the new software we’d put on our phones), our phones couldn’t dial 911.

It’s not a problem with all phones. It’s not even a problem with some phones. It’s a problem specifically with this one model of phone, the Samsung Vibrant, which just happens to be the one model of phone that Scott and I both have. But this is the kind of freaky fluke thing that happens to us all the time. We’ve had these phones for a year and a half. We’ve thought about changing the software off and on for over a year. We finally do it, and the very next day, the software developer says sorry, no longer supporting your phone, because Samsung has it wired in some totally wack way that we can’t work around.

GREAT.

So I made it through the week without needing to call 911, thank goodness. This weekend I researched putting the original Samsung software back on the phone, which kills my soul a little bit, because they loaded it up with dozens of crappy programs that I don’t want, don’t use, and can’t delete. That’s right, they filled it up with tons of bloat and don’t give you the ability to get rid of it. At least Windows lets you delete the AOL setup software if you don’t want it, am I right?

Fortunately, you can re-install the original Samsung software and then root the phone, which gives you deep-down access to everything. Of course, rooting the phone voids the warranty, but I’d already voided the warranty by installing the Cyanogen software, so what the heck.

So it’s back to stock Samsung Froyo, but rooted. And with root access, I can delete programs that Samsung wants me to keep. Goodbye Layar, and Gogo, and MobiTV, and The Sims 3, and the movie Avatar. Don’t want any of you, don’t need any of you.

I also added in a new launcher, since the stock TouchWiz launcher is also a stinker. I’d used Launcher Pro before, but saw that Go Launcher EX has a ton of themes to choose from.

And the developer offers a theme-making program.

How could I not?

Here’s my first attempt at my own theme, to get comfortable with the program. I based some of the icons off of another theme that I mostly liked, but wasn’t 100% in love with.

I also made a new battery widget. Although this is not my weather widget; I found this one that was already in the Beautiful Widgets download section, and liked it a lot. (Please don’t hate on our weather; we tolerate four ghastly months in the summer and this is our reward.)

Here’s inside the app drawer:

Now that I’m familiar with the theme-building program, I’ll have to think about what icon theme to build. I have two three-day weekends coming up, and Scott’s working all of those days, so I’ll have some time on my hands. Maybe a full Basic Instructions theme, although I can’t quite see yet what the icons would be.

Photodump: Fireworks, Clothes, and Chicken Granules

It’s been an adventure-filled week, and I still haven’t done my baking yet. That’ll be this evening.

We went out to Epcot on Wednesday night with some friends; it’s always nice to hit the theme parks in December to see the decorations, and we hadn’t seen the seasonal add-on fireworks at the end of the Illuminations: Reflections of Earth show.

First, I played around with some new camera apps for my phone. This is from the HDR app, and the water of the fountain came out creepy cool. You can see Scott peeking in on the side. I like this HDR app, and may actually upgrade to the paid version eventually. It’s “HDR Camera” in the Android Market.

We got a nice lagoon-side spot to watch the fireworks, although from over in France where we were, there was an island blocking the big globe. That’s OK, I’m not a fan of the globe parts anyway.

The extra fireworks on the end were so over-the-top, I giggled like an idiot all through them. Also, you can see a lot of ducks over in our corner of the lagoon, hanging out as far away from the fireworks as they can. Over on my Flickr, you can see I have a history when it comes to fireworks and ducks.

It was a gorgeous night, and there was a HUGE half-moon hanging low over the Mexico pavilion as we left. I know it doesn’t look all that huge in this picture, but isn’t that how it always is? Also, I love that we have flowers blooming in December here in Florida.

Onward! I went to Old Navy to consider their sweaters again. Once again I tried on some of the ladies’ sweaters, and once again I ended up buying a boys’ XL instead. They’re just so much softer! I don’t get why ladies’ sweaters have to be so coarse and stiff.

I sure am glad I carried my stuff to the fitting room in a neat stack. The girl took everything from me and piled it elegantly in the corner.

I also looked at sweaters at the Target. In the adult section, as well as in girls’ and boys’.

I think they forgot to include something on this particular label. Or perhaps they couldn’t think up any actual features of this tee.

I also found something delicious at the Target.

Don’t knock the chicken granules until you try the chicken granules! I took this jar full of delicious to work, where it’s nice to have a hot cup of broth in a freezing-cold office. It tastes just like the broth that I used to get out of a machine at the high school where my mom worked, back in the ’80s. The cups had poker hands on them. Ah, memories.

Yes, that’s an electric stapler. This office is classy.

I’m going to miss this job when it’s over. There are only three weeks left of my temporary assignment. Although there’s always a chance my temp spot will be extended, I haven’t heard anything to that extent yet.

So here’s to you, cube 226A! My festive lights, fez lamp, various other crap and I will savor you for the next fortnight and a half.

Compu-Crafts: Phone Fonts, Skins, and Rooting

It feels weird to categorize this stuff in the same way as the oven mitts, but it’s crafty in its own way.

I discovered the other day, after a year and a half of using this phone, that I could change the font. Yes, it took that long for me to find a little menu. I immediately changed it to something called “choco cooky” or something, which was cute enough, but if you know me at all, you know that I want my own darned font on there.

So I researched, and found out how to take a .ttf font file and compile it into an Android .apk file that the phone would recognize.

THEN, I thought to myself, if I can download widget skins for the Beautiful Widgets app (which I just got for 10¢, thanks to the 10 days of 10¢ apps sale going on right now), why can’t I make my own widget skins?

So I did.

And this is the horror that I created:

Because really, WHY NOT?

A few days of partly Scottish with a chance of rain, and then a day of just partly Scott. And the battery was creeping down toward half Scott.

Even creepier, the 50% level of the battery:

That’s right, it’s Scott as the Dread Pirate Roberts. I can only hope that soon we’ll be living like kings in Patagonia.

Well, all this research took me to some fascinating sites like the XDA Developers forum and Android Central and a host of others that I read but didn’t bookmark. And everywhere I looked, there were mentions of rooting phones.

For those who don’t know, rooting the phone means clearing off the software that came pre-installed by the cell carrier, and installing a fresh and clean version of Android. It makes the phone way faster and less bloated, and it also voids your warranty immediately.

I’ve always been scared of rooting the phone, because what if something happens? And I screw it up? Then my warranty is voided, and I’m up a creek without a paddle. But I don’t have much time left on this contract, the phone is two generations old, it’s running Android from two releases ago, the carrier isn’t updating anytime soon, and it came pre-loaded with 30 or 40 applications that I don’t use but can’t delete.

So I rooted! It wasn’t the easiest thing in the world, but it wasn’t that hard either. And we only had a couple of minor heart attacks throughout the process. (Scott decided to root his this morning too, and we each had different weird things happen.) But both phones are now working great, and they’re SO FAST.

I also made a new background, and a new battery widget skin, and a new weather widget skin. Because those Scott Meyer heads are creepy.

I also adjusted the old font that Scott uses for the Basic Instructions dialog — bumped it up to 130% in size, because in its old format it was displaying a little too small on the phone. I combined it with the special characters from one of my other handwriting fonts, because sometimes it’s nice to have accent marks and stuff.

SO! I’m all about sharing the arts & crafts. Here’s various things, if you want them:

MissyFonts.zip – the original Basic Instructions font from 2006 (“BoldMissyHand” in regular and bold), the 2010 handwriting font (“MissyMeyerNew”) and the up-sized combo of the two I’m using on my phone now (“MissyCombo”).

Basic Battery Instructions – the Scott Meyer head you can use for a Beautiful Widgets battery meter.

Basic Weather Instructions – ditto, but for the weather widget.

Battery Doodles – Black – the doodled battery meter I’m using now, also for Beautiful Widgets.

Weather Doodles – Black – ditto, but for the weather widget.

If you’re using Beautiful Widgets, all you need to do is extract the .zip file, and then move that onto your phone. Your Beautiful Widgets folder will probably be on the phone memory drive, under data>beautifulwidgets. Plop each folder into the corresponding sub-folder on your phone (the battery widgets into the “bskins” folder, the weather ones into “wskins”.)

Since I ended up with a 30-day version of a font-making program, I guess I should get cracking on a 2011 font. Before it becomes 2012.