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December 12th, 2006


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11:38 am - 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."
Current Location: Southeast of Disorder
Current Music: "There's Something So Feminine About a Mandolin", -JB

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Comments:


[User Picture]
From:rfunk
Date:December 12th, 2006 04:51 pm (UTC)

Vegan cookies

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Though you're were successful, you might have better chances in your quests for vegan foods at someplace like Clintonville Community Market or Whole World than at Kroger. And you can get slavery-free fair-trade chocolate there too. Though of course they're more expensive.

Vegan chocolate chips are easy - just avoid *milk* chocolate and get the semi-sweet ones.

Avoiding the eggs seems to me to be the hardest part, but apparently you're OK and experienced with the applesauce solution (which I'm still skeptical of).

I love eggs and cheese too much to be vegan, but have long been interested in the possibility of vegan solutions for cookies and brownies. I now have some cookbooks that purport to solve the problem, but haven't had a chance to try any of their recipes yet.

Your mention of never cooking meat at home reminds me of my similar behavior in my old apartment, even before I went vegetarian.


Oh yeah, and my understanding of "vegan" is "no animal products", rather than "no animals were harmed". There's plenty of food with animal products that didn't involve harming the animals in any way. But the whole vegan ethics debate is one I prefer to avoid anyway.
[User Picture]
From:chronarchy
Date:December 12th, 2006 05:02 pm (UTC)

Re: Vegan cookies

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Actually, from what I've always seen about the chocolate slave-trade, while there are a number of well-intentioned companies doing their best to avoid it, it doesn't seem like they're doing a great job of it. I'm not sure it's as tightly controlled as the "free trade" groups want you to think.

I've noticed, though, that semi-sweet doesn't always lack milk; in fact, with Nestle and Hershey, it almost always does. The thing is, you'll find milk added in for no good reason quite often to foods, especially pre-packaged ones, and most available chocolate is really bad about it.

The Community Market and Whole World . . . yeah, I don't have six bucks to spend on a chocolate bar :)

And apple sauce is an excellent replacement if you're baking, not cooking. I've never tried to replace it while cooking. I've never tried to scramble applesauce, though.

Good luck on the vegan cookies with the cookbooks. Most of them end up "edible" rather than "tasty". I speak from much experience and many, many failed attempts (some of which Tina has never seen because I've chucked them out before she got home, and some of which Tina made) :)

Well, the debates over honey and wine are good ones for the "no animal products" or "no animals harmed". Both of those tend to be off-limits to some vegans but not to others. In the end, I give up and just go with what the vegan self-identifies as "vegan".
[User Picture]
From:rfunk
Date:December 12th, 2006 05:27 pm (UTC)

Re: Vegan cookies

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The chocolate bars at the healthy-food places are incredibly overpriced, but (for example) the bags of chocolate chips aren't quite as bad.

I think applesauce is already pretty scrambled. :-) The tofu solution makes more sense to me.

Honey is the first example I can think of in the vegan gray area. Arguably even milk and eggs don't have to involve harming animals, but they're universally considered non-vegan. But I must be missing something about wine; I'm not aware of animal products there, except mead of course.

Oh yeah, and your post mentioned the allergy labeling on foods these days.... I just wish it mentioned what other animal products besides milk and honey are in there. "Natural flavors" and "enzymes" are always a big question mark for me.
[User Picture]
From:rfunk
Date:December 12th, 2006 05:39 pm (UTC)

clarification

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Oh yeah, and your post mentioned the allergy labeling on foods these days.... I just wish it mentioned....

That is, I just with the label mentioned....
[User Picture]
From:chronarchy
Date:December 12th, 2006 07:01 pm (UTC)

Re: Vegan cookies

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There's something with some wines that make them non-vegan, but it's not all wine.

I have a few lists of ingredients commonly referred to in the lists that are derived from animals in some way, if you'd like me to copy it for you. It might help you determine what enzymes you can and can't eat, as a vegetarian.

Of course, to quote Tina: "You can go crazy trying to be completely animal-product free." She's very right. One of those vitamins, I think D1 or D2 or something, is derived primarily from animals, and so if you get something that's "vitamin D enriched", you're getting animal products, like it or not.
[User Picture]
From:rfunk
Date:December 12th, 2006 08:45 pm (UTC)

vitamins

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One of those vitamins, I think D1 or D2 or something, is derived primarily from animals, and so if you get something that's "vitamin D enriched", you're getting animal products, like it or not.

I'm don't know about sources of "enrichments", but the only vitamin that vegans have trouble getting is B12, and that basically comes from dirt. (Don't wash the veggies and you get more B12.)
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[User Picture]
From:qorinda
Date:December 12th, 2006 06:37 pm (UTC)

Re: Vegan cookies

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I make brownies with plain yogurt and a little bit of vanilla. Mmmmm. They come out moist and chewy, and less fat. Oh yeah, but yogurt isn't vegan.... d'oh!
[User Picture]
From:chronarchy
Date:December 12th, 2006 07:02 pm (UTC)

Re: Vegan cookies

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*nods* I wonder how yogurt would work? But, as it's not vegan, I probably won't try it on my own. Too much work, and if I'm going to make something Tina can't eat, well, I'll make it like the box says, most likely.
[User Picture]
From:qorinda
Date:December 12th, 2006 07:17 pm (UTC)

Re: Vegan cookies

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Yeah, in this case, it IS like the box says.... as I usually only buy No Pudge brownies these days.
[User Picture]
From:chronarchy
Date:December 12th, 2006 07:04 pm (UTC)

Re: Vegan cookies

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Tofu weirds me out somethin' awful. I don't like things that jiggle at me that much. They give me the creeps.

I'd rather deal with tentacles than tofu.
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
From:rfunk
Date:December 12th, 2006 07:21 pm (UTC)

Tofu

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You've gotta try some smoked tofu sometime. No jiggling, chewy texture. Last time I made something with it people were confused because they thought it was meat.

But as for jiggling, what are your thoughts on eggs? They jiggle quite a bit.
[User Picture]
From:chronarchy
Date:December 12th, 2006 10:12 pm (UTC)

Re: Vegan cookies

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Tofu is evil. I have definitive proof. It makes you gay!
[User Picture]
From:smithing_chick
Date:December 13th, 2006 06:00 am (UTC)

Re: Vegan cookies

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Ugh. Not that I'm in any way inclined to be vegetarian, let alone vegan (way too big a fan of a nice bloody rare steak, plus I'm a well-skilled leatherworker) but if I ever gave it a thought, tofu is enough reason to never make the switch. Ye Gods, I can't stand that stuff.

Bleech!

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