December 12th, 2006


Baking brownies and seeking the vegan cookie

Last night, I went out shopping for groceries. I just needed a couple of things: milk, canola oil, and other odds and ends.

As I passed the bakery aisle, though, I thought about the craving Tina had been expressing for weeks: vegan cookies.

For those currently unaware of my living arrangement, I live with my vegan ex-girlfriend. It works out remarkably well, actually, despite the number of people who keep telling both of us that we're dooming ourselves to this or that terrible fate. We broke up almost two years ago at this point, and so far so good.

Living with a vegan roommate has had an effect on how and what I eat. I probably eat healthier by proximity, since I haven't cooked anything with egg in it for about three years, and I don't cook meat in the house (my initial reasoning was because I didn't want to use her dishes to cook meat, but it turned out that I really just like the fact that it's cleaner to never cook meat: no grease stains on the cabinets, no salmonella to worry about, etc.).

This also means that I have a really sharp eye for ingredients lists on food. Because Tina and I still occasionally share food and often make meals together, I tend to buy things that are vegan already. If I want to throw in something to make them healthy, like bacon, I can do that on my own (I do have pre-cooked meats in the house).

But in passing the baking aisle, I realized that I could slip down there and find some cookie mix that might just be vegan. I didn't have high hopes, but I knew that something might just be available.

So down the aisle I went, seeking out the cookie mixes.

Some cookies are automatically off-limits: most anything from Nestle, Hershey's, or other name-brand manufacturers. I give them a quick once-over and am happy to see the wonderful allergen lists that they now have, that include big bold statements of "contains milk" or "contains egg". I imagine that being vegan is much easier now that those quick-references are available.

I went digging instead through the cast-offs of the cookie world: the Kroger-brand mixes, the nameless ones that people avoid because they're "substandard."

There, I came across a lone package of "double fudge brownie" mix. Lo and behold, the mix was vegan! Sure, it required an egg, but that's easily replaced with a small thing of applesauce. They weren't cookies, but I didn't think Tina would complain.

I kept digging through the packages, looking for some cookies that would be vegan. No such luck, I was finding. I grabbed a bag of chocolate chip cookie mix, though, and found that, while the mix as a whole was not vegan, it was the chips that made it non-vegan. I suddenly realized that I had a mix that I could turn into a bunch of vegan chocolate chip cookies if I replaced the chocolate in the mix with chocolate that didn't involve milk. So I sought some (again, off-brand) chocolate chunks that didn't have milk in them out and figured I could trade out the chips.

Now despite the fact that this chocolate probably came from slavery in Africa (like most chocolate does), no animals were harmed in the making of the chocolate, just people (and who knows: maybe it's actually slave-free anyway), so I figure it's acceptable as "vegan".

When I got home last night, I told Tina that desert was on me, and went to work cooking my dinner and making the brownies.

I'll be making the cookies sometime soon, put I need to get a stick or two of margarine first. Then I need to separate out the offending chips and replace them with the non-offending chunks and I can bake up some warm cookies for Tina.

After I put the brownies in the oven, I said to Tina, "You know, I'm the best ex-boyfriend you'll ever have."

She smiled and said, "Well, you're the best one yet, but I'll let you know if you can't keep that title in the future."