Monday, February 27, 2012

The Best Vegan Oatmeal Cookies and Street Food

A Guest Post by Finn the Cooking Assistant (aka the dog picker)

Recently I overheard Management talking about "street food,"and they mentioned going to a place called "Portland." I wondered where Portland was, and wondered why the Lady never stopped to pick up food finds on our own street. Then last week I found this book.

I pawed through through the book and learned that humans call hot food sold out of little trailers and carts "street food." I find it odd as this food has never actually touched a street. Technically it's trailer or cart food, but I guess since trailers are associated with something called "crack" and "trash," humans consider the "street food" label more chic.

And as for Portland, I have to say, Management (especially the Lady) is either not paying attention on our walks, or they are very slow learners.

I find food on our walks everyday. And that's my motivation for heading out with the Lady and my sister Chloe. As soon as we leave the driveway, we play a game I call, "Is It Street Food?"

The Lady misses many bits that I snap up, so it looks like I am winning this game. She calls us "The Garbage Patrol." That's what she told a neighbor. Old Kleenex, apple cores, bits of bread left for birds are just a few examples of my food finds. I lead the pack when we head out. This way we know who is in charge and of course I often spot the treasures first.

To me the whole world looks delicious; I never know what I'll find, and I'm excited each time we head out. But if the lady sees the treasure first, I'm not allowed to check it out. Oddly, she does not take it for herself. The Lady is a bad sport.

Some bags turn up empty, but that's how it is with Is It Street Food? Other bags harbor treasures that I sometimes regret sampling, but you can't knock free samples--some are fantastic, others burn you.

The best time for street food is Saturday morning. Construction sites can yield tasty results.

The Lady sometimes changes the rules of my game as we go along. If a container is sealed, I'm not allowed to open it. This one smelled of ripe potato salad. The Lady does not realize the object of this game is to eat the street food.

Sometimes the Lady allows me a few bites of bread. But before I can eat it, I sit and wait while she inspects it. I tell you--who knew this was rule? Other times I'm chewing as fast as I can and the Lady prys my mouth open and fishes the food out before I can swallow it. I call this cheating as we both know it's clearly food since I'm eating it!

Seasonal Street Food

I find more lots of plums and pears in the fall, bread, sandwiches and apples in the winter and in the spring I found strawberries that my sister Chloe and I are allowed to pick and eat. In the summer, people sometimes drop chunks of watermelon. Management called this "wasted food." If you ask me, if people wasted a little more food and I'd be happy.

I learned street food was a good thing when I was puppy. After the old bitch died, Abe was very sad and the Lady would go out and hide dog biscuits around the driveway. I sat on a ledge near a window and watched as she put the biscuits behind bushes and near rocks. I tried my best to shove my way out the front door first so I could get the biscuits, but the Lady took my old mentor Abe out and she shut the door in my face.

I returned to my space on ledge. I watched the Lady with Abe shuffling around the driveway. He sniffed and found all the biscuits and the Lady cooed and petted him, but all the Lady said to me when she and Abe returned was: "Mister you need to go to school to learn some manners."

School? Manners? If manners were treats and school was a place where I'd more, I was all for it. (to be continued)

A note from the Management about baking:

The recipe for these cookies originally contained 2 teaspoons of baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon salt. That's a whopping 3,710 mg of sodium, about 103 mg per cookie! Lowering sodium intake isn't for everyone but for sodium sensitive people, it's a great relief, to lower sodium intake and not take blood pressure medication. Also, since many Americans consume way too much sodium, I substituted baking powder for the baking soda and dropped the salt, making the cookies more heart healthy at 660 mg of sodium for the recipe, about 18.3 mg per cookie. Baking powder is always preferable to baking soda if you want to reduce sodium in your diet. To boost the flavor, I added carob. If you don't have dogs who want to sample the cookies, you can use cocoa powder.

And if you want more tips about how to maintain a healthy heart read this article in The Sound Outlook from Marlene's Market and Deli.

Best Vegan Oatmeal Cookies Ever
(Makes about 3 dozen cookies)

1 1/2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon carob (optional)
2 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
3/4 cup brown sugar (or Sucanat)
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup canola oil
1 mashed banana (about 1/2 cup)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
3 tablespoons water

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. Combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, carob and oats in a large mixing bowl. Mix well.
In a separate bowl, mix brown sugar, maple syrup, canola oil, mashed banana, vanilla and water. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients. Mixture should be thick but the mixture is too thick, add a little more water. (The consistency should be like chocolate chip cookie dough.)

3. Drop the dough by tablespoon onto the cookie sheet. Flatten the top with a glass dipped in water or the back of a spoon. Bake for 13 minutes. To check to see if they are done, flip one over and it should be lightly browned.

If I put my nose on it, it's mine.

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