Monday, April 5, 2010

Delightful vs Disastrous: This Weekend's Adventures in Baking

Walnut Date Cookies

What you see in this photo is a plate of delicious vegan date walnut oatmeal cookies. Crisp on the outside, chewy in the middle, and amazingly flavourful. Also, easy to bake. This is a winner of a cookie and I will give you the recipe for it in just a minute. We all know nothing around here comes without a story. This particular story goes backwards. Like some kind of avant garde indie film.

Event #5: I bake these cookies.

Event #4: Megan and I meet at a coffee shop on Saturday and she buys a nutty, datey, cookie for us to share. She is feeling a bit sicky. I am also feeling a bit sicky, but not as sicky as Megan, which is why she thinks to get the cookie. The cookie inspires me.

Event #3: Megan and I meet at the The Manx on Friday night for dinner and, as it turns out, multiple ciders for her and an equal number of vodka-club-sodas for me. Oh, and one free shot each because Megan's boyfriend, The Guybrarian, has brought along a friend who is celebrating a birthday. And the bartenders like us.

Event #2 I bake brownies, they turn out like this:

brownies of disaster

Event #1 Megan and I are making plans to hang out and I tell her, "I'm baking brownies made with spelt flour! I'll bring you one tonight!"

So, there you have it. Disasterous brownies, fun night, rough morning, good cookies. Megan feels that it was the spelt flour that made the brownies go so terribly wrong. I think she might be right. Also, I blame my unconventional use of a muffin pan instead of a regular baking pan. Either way, I don't think I'll be venturing to Brownieland again anytime soon. I'm going to play it safe with these cookies.

Oatmeal Date Walnut Cookies

1/2 cup safflower oil
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup all-purpose white flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp ground flax seeds, mixed with 3 tbsp water
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup pitted dates, chopped
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
1 1/2 cups quick cook oats

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine oil and brown sugar. Stir until smooth.

Sift in flour, baking soda, and salt. Blend well.

Add flax seed and water mixture, vanilla, cinnamon, dates, and walnuts.

Gradually add oatmeal until batter becomes thick but not too crumbly. If it does get too crumbly, just add a tablespoon of water at a time until it is dough, not a mass of crumbs.

Using a tablespoon dipped in flour, plop round blobs of cookie dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Press them down with your fingers. These cookies to not spread much when heated.

Bake for 12 minutes, then cool on a rack for as long as you can stand it.

Makes approximately 2 dozen.

Some Notes:

-So, what did everyone eat this weekend? We had a fairly low key holiday that included a dinner with my family. We had Italian food, since my mom (who was hosting) is vegetarian and not interested in cooking a turkey or ham or whatever for the meat eaters. She bought a meat lasagna and vegetarian manicotti from a local restaurant and I made the Italian Layered Vegetable Casserole from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen. That was about the extent of the celebrating since none of us are religious in any way, and there are no small children in my family who might have enjoyed an egg hunt of any kind. Mostly, I was just excited to have four days off in a row.


-The garden prep is coming along quite nicely. All my tomato seeds have sprouted and between the Man of Science and myself, we've ripped up all of the useless Ditch Lilies in our back yard to make room to plant all those tomatoes and eventually some beans as well.

-Last night I watched the first episode of Jamie's Food Revolution, which made me about as tense as I'd expected. I agree with everything that he's doing but it makes me cringe to see how unwilling people are to change what they're eating. Though I guess if some British guy who I'd never heard of showed up and started telling me what to do, I'd be wary as well. It just further reinforces my amazement at how strange people's relationship with their food is. Like the guy in my office who was visibly disgusted when I was eating squash as part of my lunch and then told me he only liked "traditional" food, while he was microwaving his TV dinner. I don't know whether to laugh of cry. Anyway, I'm roped in and I'll keep watching to see what Mr. Easy-On-The-Eyes Oliver gets done during his time in America. Fellow Canadians, you can watch it on the CTV site.


This Time Last Year: Cesarish Salad


SweetKaroline said...

"I was eating squash as part of my lunch and then told me he only liked "traditional" food, while he was microwaving his TV dinner."

aaaaaah that is awful. cry worthy indeed.

we've a long way to go.

Brigid said...

I watched the first three episodes on Hulu this weekend. I'm an American, and I agree with you. People have a warped relationship with food in this country. I used to eat school lunches, and I'm pretty horrified to think about all the things that went through my body back then.

ciaochow said...

A brownie disaster is always devastating. Glad the cookies turned out so well!

I had a boss once who I lived with (long story) and I was prepping tofu for dinner for myself one night. Unprompted she said, "I would never eat that, I only eat gourmet foods." Meanwhile, she was 350lbs (mostly thanks to a variety of fried meats eaten late at night) and a chain smoker.

Glad you've decided to watch Jamie's Food Revolution - it's mostly sad at this point but I have hope that he succeeds in making some changes.

Enjoy your day off! It's raining so... what are you cooking?

Anonymous said...

How do I love this blog? Let me count the ways....

Seriously! I am sitting on a bag of organic medjool dates right now, and those cookies are going to rock my socks off tonight! Thank you!

cookn said...

Brownie Disaster: baking a mix in a pan twice the size it should have been, serving it to friends while it was still warm, and being laughed at for making "brownie brittle" because it hardened sooo quickly. It was so hard I couldn't get the rest out of the pan... oops.

I get the normal food type comments all the time. One of the reasons I decided to look for a new job in a better work environment. gah! what is it with people?

Don said...

Looks like a long weekend well spent :)

Love home baked goods. I find the one good recipe that turns out is well worth the dozen or so that don't.

I've never worked with spelt before...Thinking bread before brownies for me!

Ricki said...

Love the backward-running movie--er, blog post! ;) The cookies look/sound great. And sorry about the brownies! But I've made many with spelt and they come out great--just have to adjust the recipe. :)

Hope you're both feeling less sicky!

The Ordinary Vegetarian said...

Lovely cookies, lady. Made for a great story, despite the sad beginning :)

McKella said...

Who needs brownies when you have COOKIES!? They look bee-licious. I'm glad you liked Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution. Have you seen the second episode yet? If you haven't, bring a barf bag for the "chicken nugget" experiment.


T said...

I too have fallen prey to the allure of the vegan brownie, with similarly unappetizing results. At least ya got cookies!

'col said...

We recently made cupcakes that came out kinda brownieish. They were tasty but weird. It's like some kind of evil conspiracy by chocolate products.

Easter dinner was had while starting a Buffy rewatch for Jenny's benefit (she's never seen it) and listening for the baby to wake up and cry. Breakfast potluck w/ egg hunt Easter Monday for the 27 children on my street who were of participating age. TWENTY-SEVEN.

I feel like I must live in a bubble, because my lunch/work situation is so good. A bunch of my colleagues love food, and so if you bring in something new, there's usually an excited discussion of what it is, how you made it, was it difficult/expensive, etc. Sure, we eat crap too--we work in the mall. But no one gets weird if you like healthy food. The only person I can remember mocking for food choices was Howard, because he was completely freaked out by fruit and vegetables. There was a lot of "Howard, your liver wants you to try this tasty broccoli. For reals." He was pretty good-natured about it.

Allyson said...

If I had a penny for every time my brownies turned out like that...I'd be able to pay someone to make them for me. Like you, I have found myself compelled to take a picture anyways.

P.S. Your blog is really great--- I just crawled out from under my rock and discovered it today... :)

Hilary said...

The squash thing just about killed me. "I only like traditional food." Hahahahahaha, what an absolute classic.

I wish I could see Jamie's show - the original UK version was pretty shocking, too.

I'm still laughing about the squash.

Jennifer (It Ain't Meat, Babe) said...

Allyson: They were too ugly to NOT take a photo of! And thanks for the blog love. Makes me so happy!

Hilary: I know, it was a totally bizarre comment. I think I responded with, "But it grows in the ground!"

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed reading your blog. Keep it that way.