Marcus Aurelius and I

Marcus Aurelius—a man who ruled the Roman empire and who lived from 121 to 180 AD—and I have something in common.

He wrote:

Practice also the things you don’t expect to master. The left hand, clumsy at most things from inexperience, grasps the reins more confidently than the right because it’s used to them.

A lot of things have changed in 1,900 years, but horseback riding has not. I learned to ride holding the reins in my left hand and so did Marcus Aurelius.

holding the reins left-handed

When I read this meditation, I felt a profound personal connection to the Roman emperor. How amazing that the writings of Marcus Aurelius survived and how wonderful that his meditations have relevance to my own life.

There are only a few things I can do skillfully with my left hand, and all of them required deliberate practice. In 2011, as an exercise to keep my brain active, I started brushing my teeth with my left hand. That was terribly awkward for long while. After two years of practice, I am considerably more able, but by no means graceful at brushing my teeth left handed.

Try the advice of Marcus Aurelius—practice something you don’t expect to master.

Source: Meditation XII.6, The Emperor’s Handbook: A New Translation of the Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, translated by C. Scot Hicks and David V. Hicks, 2002.

Chocolate Chip Cookies 1

chocolate chip cookies

The Challenge

To make more interesting and healthy chocolate chip cookies!

How I Did It

I altered a common chocolate chip recipe by:

  • substituting raw honey for white sugar and brown sugar
  • substituting quinoa flour for white flour
  • substituting orange extract for vanilla extract
  • adding ground flaxseed
  • reducing the baking temperature to accommodate the raw honey substitution

The differences between the ingredients in the two recipes are marked in bold below.

(A future post will present the substitution formulas for ingredients such as quinoa flour and raw honey.)

Note: This recipe was prepared at an elevation of 4,495 feet, so you if you live at a much higher or much lower elevation, you may have to adjust the recipe for elevation. (Hmm. A future post may also address elevation adjustments for recipes.)

The Renaissanced Recipe

2 1/4 cups quinoa flour
1 teaspoon, scant, baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks, 1/2 pound) butter, softened
1 cup raw honey
1 teaspoon orange extract
2 eggs
2 cups (12-ounce package) chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts

Combine flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, honey, and orange extract in large mixer bowl. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition; gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

Bake in preheated 350-degree [Fahrenheit] oven for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Let stand for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

The Original Recipe

Note: This is the Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe printed on the package of semi-sweet chocolate chips.

2 1/4 cups all-purpose [white] flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks, 1/2 pound) butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated [white] sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 cups (12-ounce package) NESTLE TOLL HOUSE Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels [chocolate chips]
1 cup chopped nuts

Combine flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla in large mixer bowl. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition; gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

Bake in preheated 375-degree [Fahrenheit] oven for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Let stand for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.