basil, lemon, and lime

These last bits and bites of summer.  While I reach with outstretched arms to grab hold (even though my yoga training has taught me not to grasp!) of the increasingly shorter days, I wanted to bake a sweet with basil, lemon, and lime.  These cookies are easy to make.   All ingredients go into one bowl.

Lemon-Lime Basil Shortbread Cookies

Adapted from Bon Appétit’s Test Kitchen, July 2011 

Cook’s Notes:  I substituted whole wheat flour. (I know – sacreligious in shortbreads, but I couldn’t help myself.)  I also made the dough with my hands rather than a food processor.  Since I wanted the cookie to be a little more savory than sweet, I opted not to use sanding sugar.  


  • 1 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 c. powdered sugar plus more for pressing cookies
  • 1/2 c. (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 2 T. sliced fresh basil leaves
  • 1 t. finely grated lemon zest plus 1 T. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 t. finely grated lime zest
  • 1/4 t. kosher salt
  • sanding sugar (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 375°. Place flour, 1/2 cup powdered sugar, butter, basil, both zests, lemon juice, and salt in a food processor, or in a medium size mixing bowl if combining ingredients with your hands.  Pulse until large, moist clumps form. Measure level tablespoonfuls of dough.  Roll between your palms to form balls. Place on a large baking sheet, spacing 2″ apart. Lightly dust the bottom of a flat measuring cup with powdered sugar and press cookies into 2″ rounds, dusting cup bottom with powdered sugar as needed to prevent sticking. Sprinkle tops of cookies with sanding sugar, if using.
  2. Bake until edges are golden brown, about 10-13 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack. Cool.

uncover your winningest self

Most of you have probably already figured this out, I am slower than most.  It has taken me 41 years and a couple months to comprehend the magnitude of accumulated effect.  In other words, it has taken me 41 years and a couple months to do something other than stand at the starting line, flail, jump up and down, and wonder how am I going to get to the finish line?  Baby steps.  Start small.  Set achievable goals.  Yes?  Yes;  but, I think it goes deeper than that.

We drag ourselves down daily in a myriad of ways.  We sabotage ourselves, usually subconsciously.  But, there are steps we can take to unwind some of those thoughts that we no longer need.  That no longer support us, if they ever did.  The first step to make is recognizing and understanding that we are doing it.  For this first step, it doesn’t matter why we are doing it.  Simply a recognition of it makes a difference.
How do we recognize it?  For example, let’s say I have a goal of writing a novel.  And, I can’t figure out why I don’t just start writing one. I have kept many journals about various subject matters I may someday like to write about.   But, I’ve not put the blood, sweat and tears into forming and shaping the material into a story.  Well, I took some time to listen to myself when I sat down at the keyboard.  I began to realize I had a small voice telling me I couldn’t do it.  (That small voice can get really loud.)  It asks me how could I accomplish such a thing?

What am I doing in this scenario?  I am standing at the starting line, flailing, jumping up and down while wondering how am I ever going to get to the finish line.   If I listen more closely to that small voice,  it asks me why start on something I may never accomplish?  Why waste my time when so many other things can be done?  So, in other words, I am sabotaging myself with these thoughts, and by not putting in the effort to make my goal happen.

Two other common ways of undermining ourselves are dilution of personal power and attachments.  Years ago, when I first heard of the concept of personal power, my immediate reaction (emotional reaction) was a negative one.  To my mind, at the time, the word “power” carried with it a negative connotation.  Something that is not necessarily used for the common good.  However, as I began to understand the concept, I developed a much greater appreciation for personal power.

As it turns out, personal power is a good thing.  It  serves the individual well, and equally so, those around him or her.   As Dr. Robert Stephenson describes in The Ethics of Interpersonal Relationships (2009),  there “is a clear distinction between positive power and negative power.  Personal power is based on strength, confidence, and competence.”   He further goes on to explain that when it is “externalized it manifests in things such as generosity, creativity, and good will.  Its primary aim is mastery of self, not others.”

How else do we dilute our personal power?   A few more examples are expectations we have of others, blaming others and attachments.  Recently my husband and I were leaving to return home after a vacation.  I didn’t want to leave.  He had vacationed, it was time to go, time to move on.  I, on the other hand, had an attachment to place.  That didn’t necessarily surprise me.  I know that about myself.  But, you see, I don’t want attachments like that.  Why?  Attachments cause pain and suffering.  The desire to hold onto something causes pain and suffering.  (It is not the enjoyment of the vacation that causes the pain and suffering.  It is the attachment to the enjoyment.  Big distinction.)  Attachments weigh us down.  It causes us to get stuck.  In many ways, it chains us to the past making it difficult to move into the future.  It dilutes our personal power.  Just because I don’t want attachments doesn’t mean I’ll snap my fingers and I’ll no longer have those feelings.  I am sure I’ll have attachment related feelings the rest of my life.  But, I’ve made a small step forward by recognizing it.

Dilution of personal power and attachments remind me of aparigraha.  It is a Sanskrit word meaning non-attachment, non-possessiveness.  It calls for a letting go of whatever the individual is holding onto.  It is a favorite of mine.  I first learned of aparigraha about six years ago.  A yoga instructor mentioned it in a class I was attending.  I don’t recall the context;  but, I’ve heard alot of Sanskrit words and that one stuck with me.  A letting go, a non-clinging, non-possesive call to action.  I believe the reason it stuck with me is because although I’ve made progress in this area,  I still have a lifetime more to do.  And, that is ok.

It was a toss-up today between banana bread and roasted apples.  I am a big fan of both.  But, if I had to pick one, it would be banana bread.  You can’t beat it in the morning with a mug of coffee.  I’ve made banana bread lots of different ways.  I’ve made it with all flour, no oatmeal.  I’ve tried fewer bananas, no nuts.  Below is one of my favorite ways to make it.  It ends up being quite dense with loads of flavor.  This is not a sweet bread.  Serve with honey if desired.

Banana Bread with Oats and Wheat Bran 

1 1/3 c. whole wheat flour

1 1/ 3 c. old fashioned oats

1/4 c. wheat bran

1 t. baking powder (preferably aluminum free)

1 t. baking soda

1 1/2 t. ground cinnamon

1/2 t. nutmeg

1/4 t. allspice (optional)

pinch of salt

3 ripe bananas, peeled, mashed, set aside

1/3 c. brown sugar

1/3 c. sugar

2 eggs

1/4 c. (scant) vegetable oil

1/4 c. chopped walnuts (optional)

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Butter a loaf pan.  Set aside.  In a medium size mixing bowl, peel and mash bananas, set aside.
  2. In another medium size mixing bowl, combine the flour through the salt.  With either a hand held mixer, or a whisk, combine sugars and banana mash.  Mix until well combined.  Add eggs and oil.  Mix until well combined.
  3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry flour mixture.  Mix until combined.  Fold in walnuts.
  4. Pour the batter into the buttered loaf pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 55 – 60 minutes until a toothpick or knife inserted comes out clean and the top of the loaf is golden brown.  Let cool on wire rack for 10 minutes.  Turn out loaf to cool further.