Can't Be Beet Black Bean Brownie Wedges

After eating plant-based for so many years, and basically educating myself on the internet and then experimenting at home, tweaking recipes to work best for my situation, I end up with a lot of delicious fragments of former recipes I read or made floating around in what’s now my long term memory. This recipe is born from those magical fragments, and I couldn’t be more delighted to venture that it might be my most delicious “weird” dessert using traditionally non-dessert items yet!

Back in 2008, the first year I was eating low fat no oil vegan, I cut my teeth on how to do that by following Susan Voisin’s Fat Free Vegan Kitchen blog religiously, going through archives and/or trying out her current offerings, and developing a wonderful conversation with Susan through commenting on the blog. That led to the treasured friendship we share today, and to her inviting me to write this blog on her Fat Free Vegan site.

But long before that developed, I just had to try her Can’t Be Beet Chocolate Cake–using carob, instead of cocoa powder. It was a delicious version. Later on, I would also try her amazing Roasted Beet-Tofu Burgers, and learn the pure ambrosia and ease of roasting whole beets in a package of foil lined with baking parchment. I loved these so much I even did a watercolor of them, which sold at my first community art show at the Moscow Food Co-op 5 years ago.


"Beets," watercolor by Maria Theresa Maggi

“Beets,” watercolor by Maria Theresa Maggi

So these two recipes, countless black bean brownie recipes I’ve read on the internet, a thread on McDougall friends that led me to sweet hummus recipes on Pinterest, my own Gluten Free Happy Birthday Cake recipe (a mostly carob and different fruit riff of FFVK’s  Chocolate Blueberry Cake), and a wonderful tip from Italian baking I read about throwing whole bits of orange in breads and cakes, led me to the combination of flavors you’ll find below. If a recipe could be a mosaic, something new made from bits of treasured old, this is it.

And on the Slow Miracle truly miraculous side, it’s a wonder that I can use the beets again at all. After eating them raw in salads years ago I started to develop an allergic reaction in my throat and had to avoid them completely for a few years. But now, if I cook them, I can have a little. So this recipe is a celebration of that, too.

And on the funny side of life, I’m pretty sure this recipe would pass muster as a vegan–or even non-vegan paleo offering. Or pretty close, which is the last thing I ever would have expected.

And if this is important to you, as it is to the future of my own teeth, this recipe is (almost) completely sugar free.

And if nothing else, it’s an innovative way to eat my black beans! Plus, the heavy dense batter is a stupendous color, which darkens but stays in the finished brownie:


Here’s to imaginative desserts more full of beans, veggies and fruit that don’t taste like, well, beans and vegetables. Kinda makes me wish I had a picky kid around to fool. Bon appetit!

Maria (moonwatcher)



"The Magical Felt Laundry Ball," pastel life sketch by Maria Theresa Maggi

“The Magical Felt Laundry Ball,” pastel life sketch by Maria Theresa Maggi

Back when I started all the moving a few years ago, I got into the habit of tying up my yoga mat with a beautiful cotton plaid scarf a friend of mine brought me years ago from Cambodia. It may have been that it was hanging over the post of the mirror on my dresser and I just needed something to tie the mat with so it didn’t come unrolled in the moving truck, with the added benefit that I would know where the scarf was without having to go through boxes. Or maybe I started using it on trips to Portland to visit my son and daughter-in-law when I wanted to bring my mat with me and be sure not to forget it. However it started, my mat now sits in a large basket in my bedroom, and when I’m not using it, it’s rolled up and tied with this lovely scarf, that reminds me of the kindness of my friend and the help they gave the people they visited on their trip.

Now that I live at my house near the ocean, I have returned to doing my yoga and morning meditation at the foot of the bed. It’s one of the first things I do in the morning before breakfast. I untie the scarf from the rolled up mat and put it at the bottom of the bed. Romeo is sleeping farther up and Cotton has already gone into the living area to sleep on his cot until I come out of the bedroom to let him outside.

As I’ve written about before, the yoga mat is what I call my magic carpet, where insights come to me and where I watch the waves of my emotional roller coaster uncurl as I meditate. This particular morning I was feeling despondent, and disappointed to be feeling so. Yet I find when such feelings arrive, it’s best to identify them and accept them, even through reluctance to admit to them, because that’s the best chance I have of moving through them to release and transformation.

As I opened up to honesty, the word “forsaken” came to me as what I was feeling. Wasn’t it just weeks ago that the Tibetan Buddhist monks had been in Newport, that I had experienced such a wonderful glow of their healing energy and playfulness, complete with one younger monk, giving Cotton, who accompanied me, his own red thread blessed by the Dalai Lama, and who at the very end of the ceremony putting the remains of the sand mandala into the harbor, had walked by us in procession and showered Cotton with flower petals? Wasn’t it adorable how one petal stayed on the top of Cotton’s head, and sensing it was important, he carefully balanced it there nearly all the way back to my neighbor’s car?

Wasn’t it just days ago that I met a couple outside the grocery store who stopped us to say they had 5 Silken Windhounds, and when I mentioned Romeo, the woman clasped her hand to her mouth and teared up, because they had owned his son, Moto, who has passed away? Didn’t we strangers hug like the family we are? Didn’t I just see a poem of mine in print after a long time?

There are many things like this, magical things, that happen in my life. And yet this particular morning, they all felt dim and far away, as if they had happened to some other me, and it further disappointed me in myself that I couldn’t access that magic in any immediate way.

Sometimes when I’m in a difficult emotional place, I don’t stand on ceremony with my angels or guides or the universe or any powers that may be. Instead I just yell “help!” Sometimes I ask for a sign. And I try, despite that natural resistance to do so, to stay present with whatever the difficult emotion is, and wait for a transformation of it to emerge.

As I rolled up the mat after practice and knelt on the floor, reaching for the scarf thrown across the bed to tie it with, I said again that word “forsaken” to myself, trying to accept that’s how I felt. When I went to pull myself up with the hand on the bed, it hit something hard–and round–under the blanket.

“Whaat?” I asked myself, and felt around some more. Then I reached under the quilt and pulled out a felt ball, the same size as a tennis ball, the kind I use instead of fabric softener sheets to help with static cling in the dryer.

It was as if it suddenly appeared out from under the covers to keep me company so I wouldn’t feel quite so forsaken. A mute felt ball to keep me company in my dejection? The absurdity of the timing was so perfect I collapsed into genuine laughter.

The day before, even though I  hadn’t felt like doing it, I had washed this quilt and several other layers of bedding, but had missed fishing all the balls out of the folds, and only mildly wondered to myself where they went. The moment this one appeared, its pointedly absurd comment on my mood was like the sun breaking through a storm, or a bright scarf pulled out of a black top hat. I just couldn’t stop laughing. I tucked it into the pocket of my sweat shirt, and went to let Cotton out. I patted it in my pocket as I began to get ready to make my oatmeal and I chuckled some more.  The comedic timing could not have been more perfect.

I asked myself if I had ever written about signs before, feeling sheepish about whether to do so or not. Almost immediately I remembered I had, when telling the story of how I came to buy my house here at the coast. I’ve got to go find that post, I thought to myself, to seehow I did it before.  When I went to look for it, I also discovered a synchronicity: not only had I written about signs in that post, but I had also addressed my feeling of  initial sheepishness about whether or not to say I put my faith in them. But most synchronous was the fact that the post I went looking for also happens to be the very next post I will come to in my rereading of all my blog posts over the years from start to finish. That kind of synchronicity definitely felt like yet another a sign that magic was still afoot.

In that post, A Hummingbird and a Seagull Made Me Do It, I talked about how hummingbirds had acted as harbingers, leading the way to what was to become my new house, beginning with an afternoon when one flew into my little trailer by the sea while I was also in the process of reading a novel where they are a central metaphor. It’s easy to see a creature as lovely as a hummingbird as a sign. But a felt ball that takes the static cling out of my laundry? Was I forcing things?

Perhaps the felt ball appearing out of my quilt like a magic trick I didn’t know I could perform is less of a sign and more of a comment from a wiser part of myself than the one who felt “forsaken.” But a comment can be a sign, too. So can an experience, or even the memory of one, which reminds me of the following, which I  was prompted to write down after reading a blog post by my friend Gena at The Full Helping a few weeks ago:

“I was feeling rather cranky and sore and out of sorts and a bit entrenched in it all. But last night as I closed the shutters on a big window downstairs that faces west, I remembered that earlier i had walked by and saw a very delicate pattern of sun on the floor. It was so lovely that I thought at first it had substance, and then I saw it was light that had seeped through a partly closed and angled shutter, and dripped onto the floor in this startling pattern. As I closed the shutters for the night in my sore and crabby state, I remembered that moment when I touched the shutter itself, and I was reminded that moment was as real as all the sore and cranky, and suddenly it was all in balance again. It’s very important to give those good moments the equal weight they deserve, no matter how fleeting. To do so makes them less fleeting, more substantial.”

This morning as we started out on our walk, a song I hadn’t thought of in a long time came into my head: One More Time To Live.  I absolutely loved it when I was in high school. I would put the album on and lay on my back on the floor and sing along at the top of my lungs. It’s still as beautiful and relevant as ever, and seems to have some to me in the spirit of this post.

And finally, the magic trick of the felted laundry ball  also reminds of how I ended my post “Wrapping The World In Light,” which I just finished rereading:

“One last thing: I hope to be silly as often as it visits me. It used to mean to be ‘blessed,’ and in my opinion it still does.”

Yes, yes, indeed.

Maria (moonwatcher)



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