Soft Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate chip cookies are my favorite sweet thing, and I like them soft and chewy, so that’s what these are. No chunks or raisins invading my cookies. I’ve also added some of my favorite variations below.

Variations:

Checkerboard – mix dark and white chocolate chips

Peppermint twist – put 1 cup of chocolate chips in a bag or container. Add 1 capful of peppermint extract (about 1/2 tsp). Shake it up and let it sit before adding to the batter.

Almond supreme – substitute 1 teaspoon almond extract instead of vanilla.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil / coconut oil
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 c applesauce
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 4 tablespoons almond/soy milk
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 package (about 1/2 cup) instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
  2. Cream sugar into oil/shortening. Add milk and vanilla and beat until fluffy. Blend in applesauce. Then add dry ingredients and mix well. Stir in chips.
  3. Drop by teaspoon onto greased baking sheets and bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 8-10 minutes for chewy cookies or 10-13 minutes for crispy cookies. For extra soft cookies, take them out even if they don’t quite look done – they’ll keep cooking a bit outside the oven. Place on a cooling rack.
  4. Make a lot because they’ll go fast.

Epic Vegan Chocolate Cake

chocolate cupcake with rainbow frosting

Chocolate cake that is not too rich, light and fluffy, tasty as heck, and vegan. Bonus – no raw eggs, so you can eat the batter! It’s part of the experience.

This is the best chocolate cake in existence. Even before I started baking vegan I used to use this recipe.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup water OR instant coffee
  • Vegetable oil pan spray

Directions

  1. Preheat over to 175º c. Lightly grease one 9X5 inch cake pan. Vegetable oil pan spray works well.
  2. Sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Add the oil, vanilla, vinegar, applesauce, and water / coffee. Mix together until smooth.
  3. Pour into prepared pan and bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 35 minutes for cake or 22-25 minutes for cupcakes. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Best Vegan Vanilla Cake / Funfetti

Vanilla cake without the eggs is a challenge – but we can do it! Make the funfetti version, what are you, a grown-up?

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond/soy milk
  • Vegetable oil pan spray

Directions

  1. Preheat over to 175º c. Lightly grease muffin tins. Vegetable oil pan spray works well.
  2. Sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. Add the oil, vanilla, applesauce, and almond milk. Mix together until smooth.
  3. Pour into prepared pan and bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 30 minutes for cake or 15-20 minutes for cupcakes. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Fluffy Vegan Blueberry Pancakes

Vegan pancakes that fluff up properly are hard to come by – so I’ve adapted a classic pancake recipe with the vegan substitutes I’ve found work best.

Makes 6 medium-sized pancakes

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (OR spelt)
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar (OR brown/coconut sugar)
  • 1 1/4 cups almond/soy milk
  • 1/4 cup applesauce OR 1 tbsp ground flax seeds dissolved in 1/4 cup water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons coconut oil (or vegetable oil), room temperature
  • 3/4 cup frozen (or fresh) blueberries

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Make a well in the center and pour in the almond milk, applesauce and 1 tablespoon coconut oil; add blueberries and mix until blended, lumps are okay. Don’t overmix!
  2. Heat a frying pan over medium high heat. Grease the pan with 1/2 tsp coconut oil. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake. Brown on both sides.

Issue 14.1 – Fiction

Proud to be featured in this beautiful publication.

Issue 14 - Fiction

In the beginning, God created heaven and earth. And God said, “Let there be love!” And there appeared before him a vast spread of playing cards. And God said to the archangel Azrael, “What is this?” And Azrael replied, “Your greatness, this is the game of Memory.” And God said to the angel, “How do we play?” And the angel explained the rules of Memory. And God turned over the first card and saw Adam. And he turned over another card and saw Eve, and they were a match. And God was pleased.

Then God said to Azrael, “How many cards are there?” and the angel replied, “As many people as ever will live on Earth.” And God said, “How many is that?” And the angel told him “It is Aleph Null.” And God said, “That is a large number.” And the archangel Azrael said, “Infinity is not a number.” And…

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Short Story Contest Finalists

This is really exciting!

We are excited to announce our list of finalists for our first Themed Short Story Contest! The finalists are listed in no particular order, and the winner will be announced on Wednesday, July 4th. Congratulations to all our finalists! We’ve so enjoyed reading your work!

Shades of Undecided by Colleen Rothman

You’re Here Now by Lisa Cupolo

Anygirl – Serbia – 1942 by T. M. De Vos

Hook Wounds by Katie Sherman

The First Lady by Shelly Lynn Stone

The Mystery of the Inner Workings of Life by Staci Greason

Things She Packed by Laure Van Rensburg

Memory Game by Liora Sophie

In the Aspens by Mary Robinson

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Aziz Ansari Acted Like an Ass, and Is Now Being Made to Feel Embarrassed For Acting Like an Ass

An article was recently published and in my opinion, incorrectly titled “The Humiliation of Aziz Ansari.” I would like to offer my alternative title: Aziz Ansari acted like an ass, and is now being made to feel embarrassed for acting like an ass.

His career is not over (or is it? If you have articles that show that he’s been fired from a show or hasn’t gotten another role since, please send them to me, I’d be happy to be proven wrong on this point), nobody sent inappropriate photos of him to his boss or his family*. The only thing that happened is that someone told a story about a date with him, and now the internet is exercising its right to call her a liar and explain to everyone why what he did is “not that bad.”

Are you mad yet? No? Well then, please keep reading!

I’m not going to link to the article that prompted me to write this, because I don’t want to give it more traffic. But here are some things it says:

Grace’s account is “proof that women are angry, temporarily powerful—and very, very dangerous.”

If you’re making this face right now confused emoji you’re in good company. I’m sorry, you needed proof that women are angry? Very, very dangerous – you mean like guns and big nuclear buttons? Temporarily powerful?

If anything, the article is proof that the opposite is still true – women still cave to the power of men, at the expense of their own personal safety and comfort. Some have argued that Grace didn’t say no – but she did say a lot of other things, all of which I would expect Ansari to have understood. He’s smart, you know – he wrote a book about dating. I even read it a little over a year ago. He’s funny, and he had some good ideas. So I honestly expected him to understand ‘Whoa, let’s relax for a sec, let’s chill.” To mean, I’m not entirely okay with what is going on here at the moment, and I need you to stop doing what you are doing so we can talk about what we are both comfortable with, and without me feeling pressured. Yes, I expect him to understand that. It’s not such a reach.

Do I wish that women could communicate more clearly and say “no” more assertively? Yes, I do. But do you know why we sometimes don’t? Because of fear of being beaten, or raped, or murdered, or sold into slavery. Real fears of real things that are, unlike women complaining on the internet, very, very dangerous.

Aziz responded to Grace’s account that he had no idea that she was experiencing things that way. Suppose he is being honest about this: this is still a big problem. It is this that I have argued over and over again that is the cause of so many cases of sexual assault; the not paying attention, the ignoring, the doing it anyway, in short – the entitlement.

If men were as scared to make advances on women as women are afraid of men, then I would be willing to sit at a table where someone suggests that women are powerful and very, very dangerous. Until then, though, it’s anybody’s guess how the author of that article drew that particular conclusion.

*The account is compared to “revenge porn” in the article that must not be linked.

Let Me Tell You What Ruins The Moment

 

I was on a date with this guy, and we were talking about hobbies. His is martial arts, so I told him about my experience learning and volunteering for IMPACT Israel.

Date: Rape protection for women? Lemme guess: Punch to the face, knee to the groin, run away as fast as you can?
Me: No.
Date: No? What else could they possibly teach?
Me: Well, of course they teach you a good knee to the groin, but it’s not just that. It’s also about setting clear boundaries.
He smirked while I demonstrated creepy and non-creepy ways a guy could ask me what time it is while waiting for the bus.
Date: So run away!
Me: I don’t want to, I’m waiting for the bus. I need to get to work.
He was skeptical about the idea that someone standing too close to you and making you feel uncomfortable was something that happens to women on a regular basis. He was impressed with the style of physical fighting skills I described, but the concept of setting verbal boundaries seemed to register with him like teaching women to be uptight and paranoid.
Date: Only creepy guys do that! I could recognize a creeper from a mile away!
Me: OK, fine.
Me: But not all guys are creepy, right? I believe most men aren’t creepy. Some men are good. Some guys are cute, and kind, and they love us. They’re boyfriends, husbands, dads. What are you supposed to do when it’s your boyfriend, who loves you, who is making you uncomfortable?

I can’t even count on one hand anymore the number of stories I’ve heard from close friends that go like this:

  • Boy meets girl
  • boy and girl engage in consensual romantic activity
  • boy initiates sex
  • girl says “No, I don’t want to.”
  • boy thinks girl doesn’t actually mean what she said
  • without really understanding that that is what he is doing – ends up raping her

WHY does that still happen?

Date: But what are you supposed to do? Am I supposed to ask before I do anything?
Me: Yeah.
Date: Everything?
Me: Yeah.
Date: Ask before every single thing? Pffffft!
Me: Yeah, why not? It doesn’t ruin the moment.
Me: But do you know what totally ruins the moment? Touching someone without her consent. Huge turnoff.

13344542_1157187760994513_3899135592563392909_nLike many other Internet junkies out there, I’ve been reading the story about the Stanford rapist, his father’s nauseating letter defending him, and the victim’s testimony. The conclusion I’ve drawn from it is that young people (probably everyone, but particularly young people) are so terribly misinformed about consent. If you are drunk, you can not give consent. And if you are not sure if the woman you’re with is drunk or not, what are you supposed to do? You’re supposed to not have sex with her. Because if you don’t know if she can give consent, why would you risk violating someone in that way? And if you aren’t sure if she wanted it, even if she said yes, or she said no but you think she meant yes and you aren’t sure if she means what she means – just don’t do it. If you’ve ever had sex with someone who has given their consent and not regretted it in the morning, then you know that consent doesn’t wear a mask. Consent looks like “Yes, I do want to have sex with you!” It’s obvious when someone is saying yes. Which means that if it’s not obvious, they are saying no.

So what do we do? How do we fix this problem? My younger brother initiated a simple campaign to try and make a difference. His campaign is called Free Consent, and its goal is to raise awareness about what exactly consent looks like. Their slogan is, “If it’s not yes, it’s no!” They held a conference just last week with workshops and guest speakers to discuss this topic, and they’ve visited high schools all over the northern part of the country to help spread the word.

13301500_10154178202265365_6235709197252153524_oAnd the best part is, here’s something you can do: join the campaign! Post a selfie of you holding a sign bearing the words,

“If it’s not YES – it’s NO!” #freeconsent

It’s not so hard to understand. And who knows? Maybe we can actually start reducing rape cases around the world. It’s worth a try, isn’t it?

When Female Mathematicians Walk Into A Bar

Guilty – I find math jokes hilarious. When they are in fact jokes about math. I belong to a group on Facebook dedicated to the sole purpose of sharing math jokes. They make me groan or roll my eyes and occasionally laugh out loud. Once in a while someone will post a joke like this:

Yo Mamma’s so fat, her favorite day is Pi day.

Which is not only painfully unfunny, it’s also misogynistic, fat-shamey, and not even about math.

So I sigh and keep scrolling, hoping the rest of the jokes for that day will have more content and be less offensive. But then this happens:

Why do we have Pi day and Women’s day but we don’t have Men’s day?
Because men are rational!

By now I’m annoyed, but I tell myself to let it go, he was just trying to make a joke about pi being an irrational number, haha. It’s just a joke

And then someone posted this:

Woman = time * money
Time = money
Money is the root of all problems
Therefore, Woman = problems

So I decided to speak my mind and commented, “Did they run out of jokes at the funny joke store where you shop?” (Night at the Museum II is a family favorite.)

My comment made people angry. ‘Look how many people thought it was funny,’ they said. ‘It’s your choice to be offended,’ they said. ‘It’s just a joke, get a sense of humor.’

Usually when a group starts posting too much offensive content, I just leave the group. But these are math jokes. I love math jokes. I want to stick around for the other 90% which are funny. So I decided to say something. I typed up a serious post for the group, which, to summarize, said:

“As a [female] mathematician, I have some trouble with the amount of jokes posted here that are about women. There is already a huge gap between the number of men and women in math. […] Let’s try to make this group a space where everyone can feel like they belong.”

The original post and comments, in Hebrew, can be viewed here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1468380300090389/permalink/1664671797127904/

Immediately came a rush of agreement and thanks from many female members of the group. But backlash was incredible. I can’t say I didn’t expect it, given the attitude I had met from the previous comment about the women=problems post. Here are some examples of response comments:

“So you went through 1000(!) posts and found 10 that were offensive to women. Nice. I thought I was obsessive…Grow a couple.”

“Your post creates a bad name for all women in general, and specifically for us women in this group.”

“Your post ruined my Friday morning.”

“Hi girls, I wanted to post a math joke, but I’m afraid I’ll be attacked if I do.”

“This post reinforces the stereotype that women are irrational and overly sensitive.”

“Who are you to decide what kind of jokes I can laugh at? If you’re offended, that’s your problem. You are being a bully and acting in a way worthy of Iran or some place where women are objects. Shame on you.”

“Get a sense of humor.”

“I don’t think [you are] looking for a solution, just attention and pity.”

“I’ve had enough. What a humorless party-pooper.”

“What a shame that you allow your feminist opinions to blind you, and worse, to try to ruin this group.”

“Taking an offensive joke is a price you should be willing to pay.”

Then there was one comment which stood out:

“Your argument is right, but you’re wrong to try to convince men who are defective and egotistical who would never accept criticism even if it is justified, and certainly not from a woman.”

To which I responded,

“Well, then, back me up. Men, speak up!”

And then came the following responses, all from men.

“Liora, you are not alone! 🙂 I also feel that the jokes about women are offensive and not funny.”

“I never thought those jokes offended anyone, but now I see the amount of women who are hurt by them and I really do think we should stop telling them. Even if I personally am not offended, the fact is that some women here are and we need to respect them.”

 “What is with you guys? Someone said it’s offensive, apologize and stop posting them. It’s that simple. When women ask you not to tell offensive jokes, stop telling them they are being whiny or have no sense of humor. Behave like human beings.”

“To all of my penis-owning friends, we are not women. We do not experience the jokes in the same way. So most of us are not offended, and we might not even notice the misogyny in them. But if someone tells me his tooth hurts, I won’t silence him by claiming that my teeth feel fine. If she says the jokes are offensive, I believe her, and if I find a joke that contains gender references, I’ll think twice before posting it. We’re here to have fun, not to hurt anyone.”

 “Liora, great post. It’s a shame you had to take so much pigheadedness in response.”

“I’ve started a new group. It’s called Misogynistic Math Jokes. Take your misogynistic math humor there.”

“Guys, guys…I don’t get what your problem is. Someone said she was offended, and she is clearly not the only one. What’s so hard about just accepting? Why are you acting like it will somehow destroy the group? It seems to me that not posting these offensive jokes will only improve the quality of our group.”

“How does saying that there were ‘only 10’ misogynistic jokes out of 1000 prove anything but the fact that there were 10 misogynistic jokes?”

 Each response received its own dose of backlash.

I am overwhelmed and grateful for all the support, for every man who stood up to his peers and called them out. Every man who showed that women’s issues are not in fact only women’s issues, they are human rights issues. Men who reminded us that there are not only rude, self centered, egotistical dunderheads out there, but also caring, empathetic, kind men who love women and are not afraid to call injustice by its name. I am proud to be part of a group with you.

In an unexpected turn of events, about 12 hours after my post, a group admin invited me to join the team of group moderators. I now have the ability to remove posts and block users from the group, which means no more misogynistic math jokes over here! What this tells me is that the message was received. My voice was heard. But I think that is greatly due to the amount of men who spoke up in support of me and my fellow women mathematicians.

It’s easy to look back at the comments and think, wow, there is no chance for equality in the future. Why would any woman want to learn mathematics if it means being surrounded by attitudes like those? But from the supportive responses, it is evident that men also care about equality. Misogyny is becoming less socially acceptable. Men have joined the fight for women’s rights and respect. History has shown us that the civil rights movement did not take off until white people marched alongside black people. Likewise, the movement for equality will not win until men fight alongside women. Following my post about math jokes, I saw proof of that happening. So instead of being crushed and disheartened, I am hopeful.

Here’s to a better future, a better world for our boys and girls to grow up in.

Thank you!

*Top image from https://xkcd.com/385/