Laurel Herman
Chef Instructor, Culinary Storyteller, Ancestral Foods

Lucy in the Kitchen with Diamonds (Tales of a ditzy chef)

Brownies small 184 Purim is that time of the year when we can poke fun at ourselves. I am often referred to at work as “Lucy”. I get it, the red hair, the ditzy stunts, it fits. Much like my comic heroine, I am no stranger to misadventure, and I have a history with fire. Let’s call this my personal Purim spiel.

Early in the 70’s as a young bride, I was asked to watch some burning leaves in the backyard. “Sure “, I said and went into the house to make a salad for dinner. I could not for the life of me figure out why the salad was making this crackling noise…….. Looking up to the kitchen window a half an acre was on fire.

Several years later while living in Key West, I worked the 8-4 am shift in a very colorful bar with a reputation for drug smuggling. I closed up, got on my bike and rode home, as it started to rain. It was a historic rainfall of 24- 28 inches in less than 24 hours. I called work to find out what time to come in the next day. I apparently left the deep fryer on, the roof collapsed, exploding the entire kitchen. “Laurel, you’re fired”, led me to instant celebrity status. Offers to guest chef were flowing in faster than I could fill them.

More recently post-divorce, I had my first “ relationship” with this incredibly suave British fella. I totally lost my concentration and in my rush to get home for an evening of fun and frolic, I left a frittata in the oven at work overnight. Heavy smoke ensued in the kitchen and at my house. As I drove up the next morning, all the doors were open with the charred fry pan and a well-burned frittata outside on the steps along with some lovely firemen waiting to greet me.

Or the time I was invited to a “soul Thanksgiving”. As the only Jew and white person, I made a lasting impression with the sistahs as I dropped the entire pot of gravy on the floor. They couldn’t be more gracious as they assured me that Jesus loved me regardless.

I still trip over myself, and when things fly off the counter, even if I am not there, the staff yells “LUCY”!

These stories may not be diamonds, but they are pearls, and the parts of my life I cherish most. The comparison was made by a coworker “you are not a scorched pot Laurel, but a well-seasoned fry pan.”  I’ll take that as a compliment.

This recipe is easy, gluten/grain free, Pareve, and best of all requires no fire!

Raw Brownies

Mise en Place:

You will need a food processor, and a baking sheet! These are so easy! It also helps to have a kitchen shears for the dates. You may add shredded coconut or goji berries for additional variety.


  • 2 cups Almonds
  • 2 and a half cups dates
  • 3-4 Tablespoons Cocoa Powder
  • 3-4 Tablespoons Coconut oil


The best way to avoid pits in the dates is to cut them beforehand to ensure they are safe for the food processor. Place the dates in the processor and pulse until they are almost a paste.

Remove and then process the almonds, add in the dates, and pulse. This may have to be done in small batches. Add in coconut oil and cocoa powder. Much of this is done by feel and taste. When the desired sweetness is reached, place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment and refrigerate or put in mini cupcake papers.

Place in fridge until cold, slice or serve in cupcake papers.

About the Author
Laurel Herman is a Chef Instructor, Culinary Storyteller, and Culinary Medicine practitioner, residing in Richmond, Virginia. A classically trained chef in the European style( Thames Valley University, London, U.K. and The Institute for Integrative Nutrition) Her style is anything but classic, its fun, and relaxed. Laurel's passion is bringing people together through food goes back to growing up in a home which welcomed everyone. She has taught at various venues throughout the Richmond area. Now retired, but never from the love of food, active on Instagram Laurel also loves doing her podcast Chai talk with Laurel on Spotify. Her books, The Blissed Out Chef was published in 2015 and the Inner Kitchen, Balboa press in 2011.
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