I am still reveling in the days when, two floors above me, lived a friend that wanted to cook anything and everything and vegan. Alas, those days have come to a bitter end when, last Friday, she packed up her boxes and bags and took a seemingly sketchy flight on Aeroflaut (you ever heard of it? Me either.) from Seoul to Moscow, where she pitched in the airport for roughly 18 hours. See, Russia has a crazy visa process where you have to apply for the visa, specify what dates you are going to be there (sometime not allowing more than ten days vacation), and then you have to jump through a bunch of financial and bureaucratic hoops (including an official invitation from the country, hotel, or person with whom you’d be staying). There was one more option for her: to pay The Plaza in New York City prices for one night at a Moscow hotel.
Again, I return to the fact that she slept on the floor of the airport, with her luggage in tow, and most likely a bottle of Russian Vodka rolling around somewhere close by.
But before she left, we managed to get in a lot of vegan delights, including one of the best cookies I’ve ever made. If you remember, I am a baker at heart. Coming home from late nights at a Thai restaurant, still wound up from serving people and pounding absurd amounts of Thai coffee to keep awake, I would station myself in the kitchen mixing flours and sugars and baking powders until out of the oven came warm scones and flans and marbled pumpkin-cheesecakes. Needless to say, I’ve baked my fair number of cookies.
But these, these vegan treats were probably the best things I had baked… almost ever. It was the combination of ease, company, and result.
Vegan cookies and easy don’t usually come together in a sentence all that often (unless you’re reading a vegan blog or cookbook…) but I have to testify that these cookies were as easy as, well, pie? Yes dairy-laden cookies have butter AND eggs (oh, the travesty!), but both ingredients have substitutes. For the butter, you can find vegan margarines or simply use a little more oil. I’ve also heard that you can use applesauce, bananas, or some people go for water. We used margarine.
Eggs? That one is a little more difficult, eh? Not if you have ground flax seeds. Now if you start groaning about how it’s annoying to go to the store to buy flax seeds and which ones do you use the ground or the whole and why are they so expensive and blah blah blah hush up folks. Try finding flax seeds in Korea (see: where do you go, what do they look like, and what the heck are they called in Korean!). So yeah. There. Most of you have the luxury of just hopping down to Wegman’s or Harris Teeter and picking up a nicely packaged haul of flax seeds (ground please).
Once you’ve stopped your moaning and groaning and have your ground flax seeds, what do you do? Add a little water and put them over medium head until they come together in an eggy consistency. No joke, it’s a beautiful transformation. And now, your can substitute eggs in any of your baked goods!
With recipe and substitutes on call, Katie and I found ourselves mixing our ingredients with fervor and diligence until they all popped their way into and out of the oven. Because my oven is on the smaller side, and these cookies took a while to fully bake, we decided a bottle of red wine and good stories were the perfect time killers.
An hour and half later, we had finished our bottle of wine, found out a little more about each other and eaten more than a quarter of the cookies. Warm, solidified but ever-so-gooey. Notes of cinnamon, brown sugar danced around the rolled oats, sweet raisins, and earthy walnuts. The cookies, melting away in our mouths quickly, lasted two days. How can you say no to an Oatmeal Raisin Walnut Cookie? You can’t.
Giganto-Vegan-Oatmeal-Raisin-Walnut-Delights (GVORWD doesn’t really roll off the tongue too well…)
1 Cup vegan margarine, melted
1 Cup Brown Sugar, packed (for real, pack it!)
3/4 Cup Sugar
2 tsp Vanilla Extract
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed, 6 tablespoons of water heated over low heat
1 1/4 Cups Flour
2 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Salt
3 Cups Oats (preferably not instant, but they might work too)
1 1/2 Cups Raisins (don’t go for jumbo, because they’ll just all freaky in the oven)
1 cup chopped walnuts
While the oven is heating to 350 (172C) mix the melted margarine, brown sugar, sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy (with a mixer or by hand, whichever is clever). Then, add flaxseed mixture and beat until well blended. (wet ingredients)
In another bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt (dry ingredients).
Add, gradually, wet ingredients into the dry ingredient mixture.
Stir in oats, raisins, and nuts last.
Work the dough from bow to baking sheet however you’d like (see: drop cookies, shaped, on parchment paper, on an oiled surface, etc)
Bake for 15-17 minutes or until edges begin to brown. Let stand for 3 minutes before removing from baking sheet. (They’ll be gooey, LET THEM SIT!)