Teacups and Dark Chocolate Black Bean Bars

Mom, Dad and my older siblings lived in Washington DC for about 5 years when Dad was Ambassador to the U.S.  He was reassigned when I was born, so at 2 months old I made the trip back home. While in DC Mom and Dad had a portrait done by Stefan Norbin, a Polish artist.  While he made Mom look much younger than Dad they were actually only 6 years apart in age.

Mom and Dad 1940's
Mom and Dad 1940's

Recently, I looked up info on the artist and this is what I found:

"Stefan Norblin, a polish painter and graphic artist, had an exciting, and tragic life. He was a successful and popular portrait painter, poster and book and costume designer in Warsaw in the 1920's and 1930's, married to the movie star Lena Zelichowska.

When World War 2 broke out, the couple fled in the last-minute, first to Romania, then Istanbul, Iraq and finally arrived in India. Norblin quickly caught the attention of the Maharaja of Jodpur who had just built a huge palace that needed to be decorated, and Norblin was given a free hand to design the interior and the furniture.

In 1946, he left for the United States, and although he had a few commissions for portraits, he was not happy, his eyesight was failing and he finally took his own life in 1952. Most of his work in the United States was lost or destroyed, and except for his polish tourist posters, he was forgotten. "

A few years ago, I started my a collection of teacups like my mother did in her 40's. 


I inherited my love of cooking from Mom, who spent 6 years writing the first anthology of Middle Eastern and North African Cuisine, published in 1970. Thanks to her all 7 of her children, and numerous grandchildren have that same passion.

Yesterday I stumbled on a recipe for brownies made with Black Beans that sounded twice as good as the recipe I adapted a few weeks ago.

Here is my version...

Dark Chocolate Black Bean Bars

  • 3/4 c. cold-pressed Coconut Oil
  • 5 oz. 85% organic Dark Chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 2 c. cooked organic Black Beans, drained
  • 3 Tbs. organic raw Cocoa Powder
  • 3 Tbs. Coconut Flakes (more to taste)
  • 1 c. organic Walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 1 pinch of Sea Salt
  • 2 high-Omega3 Eggs
  • 3 Tbs. freshly ground golden Flax Seeds
  • 2/3 c. Chicory Root or Xylitol

Preheat the oven to 325°F and line an 11-inch square or 8 x 11 baking pan with parchment paper.

Melt the coconut oil on low heat in a medium size pan, add dark chocolate pieces. Stir around until the chocolate is completely melted.

Chocolate Black Bean Bars2
Chocolate Black Bean Bars2

Put beans, cacao powder, coconut flakes and 1/2 cup of the walnuts in a blender or a food processor. Blend for one minute or until well chopped, then add the chocolate mixture and blend for one more minute, scraping down sides once.

Chocolate Black Bean Bars1
Chocolate Black Bean Bars1
Chocolate Black Bean Bars6
Chocolate Black Bean Bars6

In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs with an electric mixer for about 2 minutes, add the flax seeds and xylitol and beat for one more minute.

Chocolate Black Bean Bars4
Chocolate Black Bean Bars4
Chocolate Black Bean Bars5
Chocolate Black Bean Bars5

Save four spoonful’s of the egg mixture in a separate cup and pour the rest into the chocolate and bean mixture and process just to incorporate.

Add the remaining walnuts and dark chocolate and stir gently with a spatula until blended.

Chocolate Black Bean Bars7
Chocolate Black Bean Bars7

Pour into the baking pan.

Drip the remaining egg mixture on top of the chocolate mixture and use a toothpick or a knife to create a marble effect.

Chocolate Black Bean Bars final
Chocolate Black Bean Bars final

Bake for 30 minutes. They might still feel a little soft in the middle when you take them out, but they will harden when they cool. These are decadently chocolaty!

You can spread a little Xylitol-sweetened raspberry jam on top for variation.

~ Enjoy!  ♥


Sitting on the living room floor upstairs White veil folded over the top of her head

She holds in her lap a large round tray

Full of lentils,

Her right hand pushing each wavy row at a time

Up towards the top of the tray

Inspecting them for debris.


She wears a navy dress with white polka dots

And every grandchild knows that dress.

She’s recounting another story,

Always full of every possible detail

Often mimicking the players

In perfect adaptations,

While we sit listening.


Lentils picked through ...the tray

Is taken to the kitchen by the maid,

Downstairs she follows onions beckoning

To be chopped into perfect small dice

Excited to enhance the fledgling soup

Sautéed in green-gold olive oil

They wait to turn a luscious brown.


The telephone rings

Her youngest sister calling to say she’s coming by

One of my round aunts clad in black

White veil clinging to graying hair

Rosy face and twinkling eyes,

Three kisses on two cheeks

And a pinch of the chin.


The thick soup bubbles on the stove

Melding the flavors of crisp onions

And brown lentils with a hint of cumin,

A quick stir with the wooden spoon

Between lines of conversation

The latest family gossip

Floating around the room.


Arabic coffee is brewing next to the lentils

Thick, dark, rich its heady aroma

Vying for space between the airborne words

A quick boil, a resting minute for grounds to settle

Then into tiny flowered porcelain cups

A hint of sugar sprinkled, and quickly stirred

More news, laughter and plans for a visit


To an elderly friend who recently lost a husband...

The stone house on the corner

Above Abu Salim’s grocery store

A basket dangles from the balcony

Waiting to descend into his hands

And be filled and hoisted up again.


A sheik in black with a blue striped vest

Manicured mustache curled

A white cotton cap on his head,

He walks along-side his doe-eyed donkey

She, carrying baskets of honeyed figs

From the orchards at the top of the hill

Weaving down the winding streets to market.


‘Ahlan Yousef’ a greeting meets him

The source sits on a wooden chair

In front of the inviting barber shop

Sipping coffee from a gold-rimmed demitasse

A backgammon table laid out

Waiting for participants

On this sunny mountain day.


A hand touching his forehead in response

Donkey and master are closer to market

A taxi honks to get by the pedestrians

Tangling in the streets

Each shop with its own bouquet of people

Talking, kissing, catching up on the events

Since 10pm the night before.


Long straight hair at the skilled hands of hairdressers

Flow down slender shoulders

Framing lovely dark eyes,

As young women walk arm in arm in pretty skirts

Snacking on toasted melon seeds from crumpled paper bags

Avoiding the glances of young men

In tight shirts and store windows.


Each mother tows more than a child

Pretty frilly socks and matching ribbon in curls

Adorning chubby faces

Or shining black shoes and knitted sweaters

On a future man of the village

Who now holds a cone dripping with

Mango, peach and pistachio ice cream.


Stray dogs make their way to the back of butcher shops

Patiently waiting for today’s scraps

While the owner haggles with the woman

Veiled and gesturing at a piece of meat

Which he holds in his hand

20 lira is not what she pays for that very same

At Abu Amin’s shop across town.


A policeman’s whistle at a gray car double parking

The man in a blue shirt, his wife and children

In the back seat leaning out of windows

“Bas takki” he shouts at the officer

‘Just one moment’ and he’ll be gone

Just long enough for Sameera to run into the pharmacy

For father’s medication.


The incomparable Fairuz sings over the noise in the square

Her rich voice idealizing her country,

Comes from a radio on the balcony

Above the fabric store

Where Im Ali sews dresses for customers

While her children are in school,

Colors streaming from hangers.


‘Hey, ya Kamaaaaal’, call a group of young men

Leaning against a Mercedes

Turning the head of another making his way

Across the street to Ziad’s bookstore

Whistles and hand clapping when he hears

Laughter at his distraction as he finally sees

The goateed chins that beckon him.


Hugs go around the now circle of friends

Plans for an evening stroll after dinner

And hints at who they might run into

To spice the night’s ritual

A clasp of hands before Kamal returns to his path

A mental note to complete homework

Before the stroke of 9.


Dotted along the streets grey taxis

Usually a 6-year-old Mercedes

Carries six passengers tightly squeezed

Back from a day of work in the sun.

Skin darkened, sporting darker mustaches

Looking forward to joining family for dinner

Displayed in six or seven flowered dishes


Meals are an invitation to share good fortune

To catch up on the day’s news

To show generosity towards friends and family..

Mothers and grandmothers in their long dark skirts

Many wearing the white flowing thin veil over their hair

Spend the afternoon together preparing the evening meal

Always Turkish coffee at the ready.


Children play on the large verandas

Or on the street corners

Looked after by older siblings, cousins,

Or cheerful shopkeepers who too are friends..

No neighbor in this village is a stranger

No one keeps to themselves for this is a Community

Of family overflowing with love and concern.


Their hearts like their houses are close,

Like the winding alley ways

Their lives wind around one another

No one hesitates to ask for aid.

Nabeel skips morning chores to take Aunt Im Jamal to the doctor

Lena walks to town for a spool of brown wool

To mend upstairs’ Abu Fady’s jacket.


Between these snug two and three-story stone buildings

Serving as houses and shops…

Stray slender pine trees and fragrant flowery bushes

Winding narrow stairways and alleys

Sprinkled with cats and people

Busy with the day’s work

Acknowledging each other.


Where the spaces between structures grow larger

Stand houses capped with red tile roofs

Sit upon hill crescents offering dizzying views

Of tree green valleys and mountains

Gentle sloping land down to the shimmering

Blue waters of the warm Mediterranean

Its shores outlining modern cities.

There the men and women have a brisker pace

There the shops are shinier

The cars polished carrying fashionable passengers

The buildings taller, the streets wider

The pace faster, but still allowing friends to linger

Over coffees and sweets and late lunches

In the outdoor Cafés dotting every corner.

The cheeks here are red with premeditated color,

The shoes and handbags from twin material,

The conversations in three alternating languages

At each dining table, in each bunch of students

At Chez Michelle’s Salon and George’s Boutique

The dresses shorter, the makeup brighter

The flirting noticeable.


Her white head-cover now exchanged for a black one,

She makes her way to the city in the white Mercedes,

Kameel, the driver, in white starched shirt and long pinky nail

Making polite conversation...

Visits to Daoud the tailor, Kabé the jeweler,

And Abu Talal... the wholesale grocer,

Before returning home to the mountains.


A little something for me and my sister

Dad’s favorite fruits, dried beans and rice

To last a few weeks..

A bunch of fresh dates from Arabia

And ripe, orange, fleshy mangos from Egypt.

All congregate in the large kitchen

To help with parts of the bountiful evening meal.

~ Hoda A.© 2009