Saturday, December 3, 2011

Cowboys who are cool to cows

First off, I am a sap. Mix in the sensory overload of a seasonal change and I get extra wistful. Which is why so many of these posts harken back to earlier days. It can't be helped.

I was holding off on today's Cowboy post because it related to a birthday surprise for my Dad, which he received last night! (Happy Birthday Dad!) :) A very simple surprise, granted, but a fun one for the taste buds! My Dad's mother, my delightful Gramma, regularly made Cowboy Cookies -- the most cheerful and addictive cookies in the land. My Dad was quite fond of them! Gramma always kept them in a tall glass jar and the rattling of the jar top made us all salivate like Pavlov.

So of course, I had to see if I could pull off a vegan version and have the result be just as splendid as the original. I'll cut to the chase -- it worked and they were scrumptious. The only two substitutions were flax seeds for eggs and Earth Balance buttery spread for butter/shortening. And of course I made sure the semisweet chocolate chips had no milk in them.

I will warn you, though, that you should make sure you are not alone when these come out of the oven. Very dangerous.

Also, for those who are unfamiliar with flax seed substitutions: flax seeds can be bought whole in bags. Once you get home, put the bag in the fridge and keep it there. I use a coffee grinder to grind them up in small batches. (If there are coffee grounds in there, just throw in some uncooked rice, grind that, empty the grinder of the rice/coffee bits, and then clean out quickly with a paper towel. Very simple.)  Every Sunday, I'll grind up a several tablespoons, throw them in a small glass canister in the fridge, and use them throughout the week, mostly in my morning smoothies. These babies are LOADED with omega-3s.

To match the equivalent of 1 egg, you just use one Tablespoon of ground flaxseeds with 3 Tablespoons of water. I throw the flax seeds and and water in the small bowl of my food processer and let it whir for a couple of minutes until it gets a very egg-y consistency. Should you have no food processor, you can whisk them instead, though it takes a little longer.

Here a little excerpt from Wikipedia on the nutritional benefits of flaxseed (SO superior to eggs in nutrition and in kindness.)

Flax seeds contain high levels of dietary fiber as well as lignans, an abundance of micronutrients and omega-3 fatty acids (table). Flax seeds may lower cholesterol levels, especially in women.[10] Initial studies suggest that flax seeds taken in the diet may benefit individuals with certain types of breast[11][12] and prostate cancers.[13] A study done at Duke university suggests that flaxseed may stunt the growth of prostate tumors,[13] although a meta-analysis found the evidence on this point to be inconclusive.[14] Flax may also lessen the severity of diabetes by stabilizing blood-sugar levels.[15] d]

Gramma's recipe called for 2 eggs, so I used 2 T flax seed with 6 T of water, whirred them up and put them to the side until I was ready for them.

So here is the new and improved recipe for Cowboy Cookies that is completely cool with the cows.

Gramma's Cowboy Cookies

Sift together and set aside the following:
2 C sifted flour (I used regular white)
1 ts baking soda
1/2 ts salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

In s separate bowl, blend together the following:
1 C Earth Balance buttery spread
1 C granulated sugar (Whole Foods sells vegan sugar*)
1 C brown sugar, firmly packed (I used light brown)

To the butter/sugar mix, add the 2 T flaxseed / 6 T water combination that you already whisked up.

Add Flour mixture and mix well.

2 C rolled oats (not minute)
1 ts vanilla
1 package semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used Guittard)

Dough is crumbly and oh-so-tempting.
Drop by teaspoon on greased cookie sheet (I used parchment paper on a cookie sheet.)
Bake 15 minutes @ 350 degrees.
Set to cool on cooling rack.

Makes about 60-80 small cookies. Prepare to be very popular.

So back to the cowboys. Gene Autry starred in the record above, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. I danced my little behind to that record throughout my childhood. I choreographed the whole damned thing and made my very bored family sit through the entire record one fateful Christmas Day while I strutted my stuff. It's a kids' album, no doubt.

There was one song in there, though, that will remain forever a part of my Christmas experience. Sleigh Bells. You may not have heard of it, but here is the actual tune itself.

Now, the part where he sings, "All the kiddies are sleeping, as he rides through the sky. But there must be no peeping, or he might pass you by!" This is the part that completely messed me up for several years. My relatively small ears did not hear "peeping" but "peepeeing." So -- I took it as gospel that if you wet the bed, you were toast. No presents, no stockings filled. He'd pass you by!!

I knew that I couldn't take any chances. And so, every Christmas Eve as bedtime approached, I would obsessively run to the bathroom to make sure my bladder was completely empty. Because you could not be too careful when it came to Santa. He knew if you were good or bad and if you wet the bed. He was omniscient in a jolly but confusing way. I wonder now if my parents thought I had a UTI every Christmas Eve.

Speaking of Autry, I never noticed this as a child, but those reindeer are flying pretty close to him, if you follow my drift. I wonder if he worried about antlers?

Do you have any favorite Christmas goodies that you've veganized or are planning to veganize? Or similar crazy stories? (And let me know if you try Gramma's Cowboy Cookies!)

*vegan sugar: Long before I became vegan, I saw vegan sugar alongside the other sugars and was very confused. What could possibly be in sugar to make it vegan or non-vegan? Well, as it turns out, they used charred animal bones from slaughterhouses to whiten/refine white sugar. Who'd a thought? I'm not too obsessive about this, though. If vegan sugar is available -- which it always seems to be -- I'll use it. If not, I'll use regular sugar.


  1. Your cookies sound delicious! I'm sure your dad was touched that you made them for him.

    I love that you choreographed the whole Christmas record as a kid! My family knows the same pain of watching a whole dance routine to a Christmas record. I used to do the same thing - all year around. (What can I say? I've always loved Christmas.)

    That's so funny about your misconceptions about the song lyrics. I used to think that Santa would only come if I was asleep when he passed over our house. Not knowing his planned schedule, I stressed myself out trying to fall asleep in a timely manner. It's like falling asleep before a big, exciting trip - not easy.

  2. LOL, I misinterpreted the song at the end of Mary Poppins when I was about three or four. My family never lets me forget it: "Let's go fly a kite / Up to the highest heights / Let's go fly a kite / And send it SNORING!"