Hello fellow food lover and blog reader! I’m just gonna get this little tidbit of blatant self-promotion out of the way and say that yes, I have signed up for all the social media in the past few weeks, so I’ll summarize where Baby June can be found on the interwebz. I have a Twitter account, which was formerly a parody account of what I thought a pastry chef / professional baker would be like and has now segued into pure blog-related shit. More blog-related shit can be found on Bloglovin, where I obsessively follow about five hundred blogs and counting. Not only that, but I have finally signed up for Pinterest, the pin-acle (bahahahahahaha funny pun June) of social media in the food blogosphere at this moment in Internet time—and, as Internet time tends to dictate, it will probably fall out of fashion next week and everyone will be hopping onto the next big thing. But whatever. Too late now, I already have an account.
Now it’s confession time.
We all have our vices, and I’m afraid one of mine is a bit too obvious on this little blog:
|This hasn't happened yet. YET. source|
In order to keep my pledge of only posting vegan food, I have resorted too many times to so-called Frankenfood—those highly processed, carefully manufactured cruelty-free substitutes like Earth Balance and (less often) Ener-g egg replacer. Instead of buying locally churned butter from, say, Cabot, I am supporting a large-scale production factory that bangs out soy-based brick after soy-based brick, all based on the lab experiments of a few profit-minded scientists. Not thousands of years of rich, creamy history. Not the single-ingredient perfection that is dairy butter.
I’m not doing it for my health. As I’ve said, I’m more interested in protecting the environment than ensuring that my multi-layer cakes don’t clog my arteries. Which they probably will. But that’s why I try to eat salad (the keyword in there being “try”).
However, given the highly processed and refined nature of the vegan substitute’s manufacturing process, is it really that much better for the environment?
The answer is not a simple one. Farmers belonging to the Cabot Cheese cooperative are said to feed their cows “corn silage, grass silage, pasture, and dried hay”—none of which are very resource-intensive to produce, but still require some extra input of energy beyond, say, growing straight-up corn. On the other hand, Earth Balance contains a variety of palm, soy, canola, and olive oils. Even though these oils are primary producer-level plant products, they are still sub-par choices when considering sustainability, given that they have to be imported from all over the world. The palm oil alone—which they claim is not of the gorilla-murdering type, but of course one can’t believe everything a corporation says on their public website—is sourced from both Brazil and Malaysia. When compared to the locally-sourced animal foodstuffs and ingredients of Cabot’s butter, Earth Balance starts to look pretty sucky.
However, PETA claims to have observed animal cruelty on Cabot’s farms, which makes a case for the victimless crime of slaughtering millions of soybeans and palm fruits and whatever else is in that glorified margarine. So there’s that.
|Although PETA isn't exactly known for the most reasonable and non-biased interpretations of such issues. source|
All of this bullshit essentially explains the science fair project I did last year: an environmental impact product label, which included numerical rankings of everything you would want to know about the sustainability of a product, any product—food, clothing, furniture, you name it. Didn’t have a rigorous scientific algorithm behind it, but it was pretty nifty. The label was shaped like a foot, and all color coded and everything. A-plus for Baby June!
That was the high point of my year. Everything else sucked ass.
|This movie was optimistic. source|
But because I have not created my rigorous scientific algorithm, applied for a patent, sold the idea to the government, and had it mandated in all fifty states for most major companies that produce, um, products, we cannot precisely gauge which item is more sustainable and environmentally friendly than the other. So let’s ditch that garbage argument and see if there are any less-processed alternatives to good ol’ margarine.
|Dat coco. source|
Recently, it seems people have becoming rather, shall we say, overeager about the amazing! health! benefits! of coconut oil. I can’t comment on that, because I am not an expert (although I will mention that the evil, corporate Wikipedia, which is controlled by evil corporations, claims that while it “may” help improve one’s cholesterol profile, many evil, corporation-controlled health organizations advise against the consumption of large amounts of the stuff), but it is easy to become suspicious when folks go around saying things like “Eating one tablespoon of coconut oil per day has been shown to completely reverse one’s chances of getting Alzheimer’s!”
Okay. I’ll admit, that was said by one of the patients at the mental hospital. But you get my point. Or not. It hardly matters anyway, because I am, as I have said, more concerned about the environment. So is coconut oil more environmentally friendly and sustainable than Earth Balance and butter?
Compared to the former, coconut oil is favorable because of its price—ahem. I would say it is favorable because it is composed of a single ingredient as opposed to a hundred and the manufacturing process is much more streamlined. However, I don’t think it would pose any huge advantages over butter, as both coconut oil and dairy butter have very simple manufacturing processes, and coconut oil has to be imported from thousands of miles away so we can all enjoy its sweet, succulent nutrition and delicate taste.
|Coconut oil, that is.|
So as a vegan butter substitute, coconut oil ain’t that bad, given that liquid oils can only get you so far in certain situations. Goddamit. Looks like I just figured out something everyone else already knows.
Why have I bored you to death with this rambling analysis? Well, I have a pledge for you. Today, I made cookies. Delicious cookies, but cookies that use Earth Balance—that magical mystery spread that is actually kind of shitty for the environment, once you think about it. But in the future, I have determined that I will attempt—no guarantees—to use less vegan substitutes and focus more on the stuff that comes naturally.
|Fuck. That's not what I meant.|
I should be a rapper. My double entendre game is, like, over 9000.
I’ll shut up now. Here’s the recipe.
Dark chocolate cookie crisp with cinnamon and cloves (adapted from All Recipes)
66 grams ● Earth Balance, softened (you could try coconut oil) ● ¼ cup
61 grams ● applesauce ● ¼ cup
150 grams ● granulated sugar ● ¾ cup
10 grams ● chia seeds ● 1 tablespoon
60 grams ● water ● ¼ cup
4 grams ● vanilla extract ● 1 teaspoon
120 grams ● white whole wheat flour ● 1 cup
29 grams ● dark chocolate or regular cocoa powder ● 1/3 cup
1.5 grams ● baking soda ● ½ scant teaspoon
1 gram ● salt ● 1/8 teaspoon
2 grams ● cinnamon ● 1 teaspoon
0.5 gram ● ground cloves ● ¼ teaspoon
168 grams ● miniature semisweet chocolate chips ● 1 cup
Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and cloves in a large bowl. In a separate small bowl, whisk together chia seeds and water and let sit for about five minutes.
Place applesauce and Earth Balance in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until fluffy and soft. Add granulated sugar and beat some more, then pour in egg replacer. Beat in flour mixture just until combined. Fold in chocolate chips.
Put the dough on a sheet of parchment paper and place another sheet on top, then roll the dough out with a rolling pin until it is about ¼ inch thick. Place dough in freezer for about ten minutes.
Remove dough from freezer and cut out small circles of dough using the large end of a pastry tip. If needed, freeze dough for another couple minutes while the oven is preheating.
Bake in a 350 degree oven for about five to ten minutes, depending on the heat of the cookie dough and your oven. Let cool on the baking sheet for about ten minutes before munching.
So, um, hi June! Are you off your high-and-mighty scientific environment hippy cloud yet? Can we talk about food?
I don’t know. But here’s how it came out:
|I think someone took a bite out of one of those. Or at least it looks like it.|
They’re not crisp, per se, but they’re definitely delicious. Nice and chocolaty. Really rich, dark flavor, even with the reduced fat (thanks to applesauce) and white whole wheat flour. Perfect with a glass of milk for breakfast.
|Well if that isn't the cutest gosh-darn cookie I ever did see.|
Or you could take a page out of my book and put them in a bowl so you can stop by to munch on them all day. Either way is fine. Just as long as you get your cookies.
Next time, I’ll use coconut oil. Promise.
|Doesn't matter; had cookies.|