vegan coconut chocolate chip bars and bonnie jo campbell

Bonnie Jo Campbell ( was here this week to give a reading. I was unfamiliar with her work, but told that she wrote about women and the working-class, which is what I write about. I was also given her story, “To You, as a Woman,” to read and pass along to my students. It broke my heart. (*The story is triggering to victims of abuse/violence.)

In many ways, the story reminded me of where I was raised, my family. It spoke to the deeply rooted, learned behaviors and beliefs that still exist in me of how the world works. I’ve been made to feel that I overreact from an overly sensitive place when it comes to the issues of the working-class, especially those of working-class women. I can’t let go of what I experienced and know from the 25 years I spent living and working in Indiana.

from Campbell: “When I shop, I reflect upon how women like our mothers and grandmothers made from scratch many of the foods we now buy ready to eat, especially cookies and snacks.” . . . imageVegan Coconut Chocolate Chip Bars
(adapted from this original recipe:

1 1/2 cups AP flour
1 cup spelt flour
1 cup rolled oats
1 1/2 tsps baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup coconut oil, room temperature
2 tsps vanilla extract
1 cup plain, unsweetened almond milk
1 1/2 cups semisweet vegan chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°F
Coat parchment paper w/coconut oil and place in preferred pan.
In one large bowl, stir flours, oats, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together.
Add sugars, coconut oil, vanilla extract, and almond milk and gently mix together with spatula, then add chocolate chips.
Press into pan and bake until light brown. 25-35 min.
Let rest as long as you can resist before cutting into bars.

These bars are easy and delicious. They have rise to them and will result in a light, soft, and slightly crumbly cookie bar.


. . . “You think of calling your own mom, whom you haven’t talked to in the year since she moved to Indiana to live with her sister, and you decide to start spending more time with your kids, starting tonight when you will bake something nice for them, a cake or a batch of snickerdoodle cookies that will fill the air with the sweet smell of cinnamon. You can imagine the three of you gathered around the table as the cookies cool.”

Indiana. All that flat and empty land. The working-class. Watching everyone work so much, so hard that they ruin their bodies. I was given, or created, a mindset that I still carry, and one to many my age (perhaps especially those I meet from the non-working class) view as being “dated” or unrealistic. It’s hard to understand something unless you’re in it, unless you know it, unless you are it. The working-class. The lifestyle I was raised in, and the one many are still enacting, the traditional. What we know. The jobs so many work to feed their children, themselves. The sweets our mothers have made, and we have eaten.

Next: banana bread and the future of working-class literature


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