Monday, June 13, 2011

Minimal-Impact Chai Oatmeal cookies

I was watching the "No Impact Man" documentary when I was struck with the need for something dessert-y, so I raided the pantry to see what I could make. It's getting close to grocery day which means there's precious little bumping around in the fridge. I poked around in my bookmarked recipes for something I could make with what I had on hand. The recipe for Chai Oatmeal Raisin cookies over at Serious Eats caught my eye.


I had everything the recipe called for (yay!), including a large amount of cardamom leftover from my Christmas chai rampage. I was even able to make them lactose-free so I could share them with B! Not that I plan on sharing them, of course, but I could if I wanted to! ;)

Click on the above link for the original recipe or see below for my modifications:

Chai Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
1 cup lactose-free margarine
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated white sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract (I used homemade)
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp each: ground cardamom, ground cinnamon, ground cloves, ground nutmeg
3 cups old fashioned oats
1/2 cup flax seed
3/4 cup currants (dried)
1 tbsp Coco Chai Rooibos tea from David's Tea
1 cup boiling water

Boil water and steep tea for 15 minutes. Strain the tea out and add currants to soak while you prepare the rest. Cream the butter and sugars together (use a hand or stand mixer), then add eggs and vanilla. In a bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, salt and spices with a fork to blend evenly. Then with the mixer running (on low!), add the dry ingredients slowly to the wet until combined. Then add the oats and flax seed, and finally the drained currants. If the mixture seems a bit dry, you can add a bit of the tea; it should be a slightly sticky (but not wet) dough. While the oven heats to 350F, put the dough in the fridge to chill for about 15 minutes. Then drop in golf ball sized dollops onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 12 minutes, allow to cool slightly and enjoy with a big glass of milk!

These came out fragrant and satisfying. They remind me strongly of my friend Michael, who taught me to explore the spice rack... I would not normally have thought to mix tea into cookie dough, though now it seems quite logical. The only tweak I would make is to use a little less baking soda as I like my cookies more on the dense and chewy side. These cookies may not change the world, but I was happy I could use what I had on hand to make them (no using gas to run to the store!) and they made my tummy happy while I tried to avoid thinking about how many thousands of miles the spices had traveled to get to my pantry and how much electricity I was using to run the oven :P

Regarding the film, I found it quite interesting, if a little impractical for the average person. I've been hearing about the doc, the guy who made it and the controversy he stirred up with his year-long experiment for quite a while now. I'm a little surprised by how strongly some people reacted to what he was trying to do... what's the harm in trying and seeing how much of our modern lives is really necessary? Not quite sure I could (voluntarily) go without toilet paper and electricity as he and his wife did, but I can appreciate the ideal. I liked that he emphasized that his point was to open a discussion and get people thinking about these things, not to guilt them into following his example. His blog has some interesting info if you're interested in learning more.

With a warm cookie in hand, I then watched another documentary, this time about an artist I'd been meaning to learn a bit more about: "Manufactured Landscapes". It examines the work of artist Edward Burtynsky, which explores the idea of the modern landscape and mankind's affect on/interaction with it. His images are often large-scale to accommodate the scope of subjects such as the Three Gorges Dam in China and the Gulf of Mexico oil spill in 2010. I hadn't intended it, but the two films are quite a striking juxtaposition with one another (and more than a little depressing, truth be told). I think I might have to go watch "Rivers and Tides" (about one of my favorite artists, Andy Goldsworthy) after to make myself feel better. Or just have another cookie. ;)

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