Old Eggs = Vegan Cookie Experiment #1

How many times have your brought baked good in to work only to find out that half of your colleagues are vegan?  Vegetarian is pretty easy to accomodate, but there is just something about eggs and butter than you cannot easily replace.  This weekend I decided to try out some vegan baking.   Be on the lookout for additional posts!

Old Eggs & Prior Research

Let’s be perfectly clear, I am talking about baking and not reproduction 🙂  There are definitely references in some comic movies such as “Baby Mama” and “Get Smart” to “old eggs.”

Before this weekend I compiled a list of substitutes for various animal byproducts in an effort to just “replace” ingredients in my yummy baked goods.  I also realized that my eggs were well past the expiration date and while they passed the “sink or swim” water test to indicate they were still edible, a month seemed a bit too old to trust, so I decided to dive in and try to make some vegan cookies!

Flax Seed Meal

Seemed to be a recommended replacement for eggs where binding was necessary.  Tablespoon and 1/4 water per egg to replace.

Apple Sauce

Sounding more appetizing, 1/4 cup applesauce per egg when binding was not required.

Margarine

Seemed to be easy since I thought it was all vegetable oil.  I was shocked to see “contains milk,soy” on the back of the store brand!  There was talk about the “Lite” version of Smart Balance, but further research online and on the label revealed that “Palm Oil / Palm Fruit” was an ingredient.  Most of us know that products using Palm Oil like Girl Scout Cookies are causing habitat for the Orangutan and other species of that region to be destroyed.  Being the Zoo volunteer that I am, I can in no way knowingly consume products containing Palm Oil.  So, the suggestion had to be tossed out.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Mission: Gingersnaps

Problematic Ingredients

  • Margarine
  • Eggs

Series of Events

Picked up some applesauce to replace eggs and was about to add margarine when I discovered that their was milk in the margarine!  AHHH!  So, I consulted my handy research page and thought, oh, I can just replace the margarine with applesauce too.

Mixing all the ingredients together, I did not have a very good consistency. In fact, I don’t think any amount of time in the frige or freezer would help my cookies be anything than complete flat blobs.  So…I added some flour to help soak up some of the applesauce juice which I believe was the root cause of the issue.  Granted there was 2 cups of apple sauce in the recipe to replace the 2 eggs and 1.5 cups of margarine.

They Are Cookies!

Baking commenced and they looked more like molasses cookies when I took them out.  To my surprise they were hard to the touch!  Success I thought.  Taking one bite I discovered they were a bit chewy, and cake like, probably from the extra flour that I tossed in to help get a firmer consistency.  Not impressed 🙁  I took them to the National Zoo that next day with the warning that they were experimental cookies.   I had a few nice comments, no one complains about free food, but I was not around to check the trash can for partial cookies either.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Mission: Gingersnaps and Chocolate Chip Cookies

A bit more ambitious to try out a few different combinations since the 100% applesauce route was not the way to go.

Problematic Ingredients

  • Margarine
  • Eggs

Series of Events

This time I made 3 batches of cookies trying out different substitutes.  Sure, I could have found a vegan recipe online, but would that be fun?  Also, if I could find out a general rule of substitution, then I could theoretically take any recipe and turn it vegan!  That is much more exciting a prospect.

Gingersnap Batch 2

Substituted eggs with applesauce and found a vegetable spread which did not contain milk.

Results

Not bad.  They were pretty flat, and very soft, but actually edible!  They had a closer consistency to their non-vegan relatives.

Gingersnap Batch 3

Substituted eggs with flax seed meal/water and found a vegetable spread which did not contain milk.

Results

Not bad.  They were pretty flat, and very soft, but actually edible!  They had a closer consistency to their non-vegan relatives.  I could not tell them apart from the ones with Applesauce in them.

Chocolate Chip Batch 1

Substituted eggs with applesauce and used vegetable shortening to replace the margarine.  Also had to get more expensive Girardelli chocolate chips which did not contain milk or milk fat.

Results

Pretty darn good!  They were again flat, but quite yummy and stayed together well.

Conclusion

Looks like the vegetable shortening came out in the end as having a harder consistency which helped the cookies stay together better.  As much as I prefer the spread as it was lower in fat, those cookies seemed to be almost too soft, but again, I did not try to make the Chocolate Chip with the spread.  That will be cookie batch 5 coming up this weekend!  You can’t compare apples to oranges 🙂

Why are ebooks so expensive?

Why invest in eBooks?

Devices such as the Nook and Kindle have been around for a very long time.  They offer convenience but have many limitations over paper backs.

Benefits

  1. No paper used to produce the book. (Environment Benefit)
  2. Can carry many normally heavy books in the palm of your hand.
  3. No recurring production costs. Once made into an ebook, which I don’t think costs much or takes much time when computers are used to type books in this modern age.

Limitations

  1. You cannot lend them.  Sure you can lend some to others with the same book reader, but just for a limited time.
  2. You cannot donate / sell them when done.
  3. You cannot fill your library with them.  Okay…so unless you are rich and have a library you need to fill with first editions of rare books, you may not see a real need for a physical book.

Why?

Back to the original question…..I don’t know.  Perhaps it is because we are paying for the convenience?  or more likely, the middle men are greedy. I hear that authors make very little on a paperback and likely don’t make any more on eBooks.

To make matters even worse, often times the paperback costs the same price as the eBook.  For me, I want to go Green for the sake of the environment.  This is the reason I bought my Kindle.  Not to mention that the entire 7 book Harry Potter collection takes up virtually no space on a shelf or my Kindle.

The biggest hesitation I have is that I cannot lend the books to friends and family, or donate them when I am done reading.  Resale value of eBooks is not very high. LOL.  Now I did buy my mother a Nook for Mother’s Day which would have allowed me to share, but she promptly sold it and bought yarn with the proceeds.  She also does not pay for any books and found the Nook worthless.

eBooks should be $2

I heard that an author gets only a small portion of a book sale. Since there is virtually no cost to make an eBook, why not get rid of the middle men and make eBooks economical as well as convenient!

How can thieves sleep at night?

Honey…I can’t sleep

While I cannot go into much detail since there was a police investigation initiated, but how do thieves sleep?  I guess it all depends on how you are brought up, but there is no way I could steal anything and not feel so guilty about it.  I have witnessed quite a few things over the years “grow legs and walk off.”  Something as cheap as an Ethernet cable.  If it were me, each time I used it, I would feel guilty.  Is the guilty feeling really worth a $5 Ethernet cable?

Caught in the act

The local police spotted the thieves and they have been apprehended.  I am hoping that my computer is among the retrieved and still functional.  There was no forced entry..so who knows, if they were not caught in the act…how many offices would have been ransacked! Can you really be that stupid?  Besides the moral implications, the thieves pretty much have ruined their lives as they will likely be fired and not be able to get a job.

Changes

So…quite a few changes are being initiated.  Machines will be locked down to hopefully prevent theft in the future.  I also plan to secure my backup drive.  Thankfully my backup drive was left and still functions.  Being a Mac, my computer was backed up and it will be easy for me to import all of my profile settings, applications, and files if it is necessary to get a new computer.

2012 WABA Vasa Ride

6:00 AM Sunday Wake Up!

Let me start by saying that I normally get up for work at 8 AM..so getting up at 6 AM on a weekend….ouch! I volunteered to help with setup / registration as well as being a ride marshal for the 59 mile course.  There were 15 and 31 mile routes as well, all with the promise of warm blueberry soup which is actually made with bilberries, the “Swedish” equivalent.

8 AM – GO!

It was a bit chilly so only 275 registered riders showed up of the 400 registrants.  Additionally volunteer ride marshals such as myself were part of the group.  Since we were not on a closed course, we had some casual riders join in as well.

Starting at the “House of Sweden” at 30th and K Streets NW, which happens to be very close to Georgetown University where I spend 8 hours a day :), we headed out on K Street which is under the Whitehurst Freeway, a scene from Batman Begins I think, and then on the Capital Crescent Trail as we headed into Maryland.  We zigged and zagged and rode MacArthur Boulevard up into Maryland and then on Glen road.  On the way we had a Powerade pit stop and a turn around at a remote convenience store.  We traveled down the bike / pedestrian / horse only portion of Beach Drive in Rock Creek Park.

Mile 50.8 BIG HILL

After a nice ride through Rock Creek Park, we see the sign for Brandywine ahead on left.  I signal and then my jaw drops….it is probably the steepest, longest hill I have seen in the District of Columbia!  I have to admit that I had to get off and walk a small portion as my knee was hurting me a bit.  Perhaps it would have scared everyone out of doing the 59 mile route, but an ‘*’ on the cue sheet would have been helpful!  Just kidding, though I think I would have rather had the hill early on 🙂

10 Minutes to spare…

So the group I was riding back huffed it as we were back on the CCT for the home stretch and made it back with 10 minutes to spare.  Just in time to enjoy some blueberry soup..in a cup.  Here are some stats from my bike computer. Unfortunately they include my limping ride home.

Travel Time: 4 Hours and 31 Minutes
Total Time: 5 Hours (Vasa Total. Does not include ride home)
Mileage: 61.59 Miles
Average Speed: 13.6 MPH
Max Speed: 30.6 MPH

While not as fast as my average speed for the Air Force Classic Crystal Ride from 2011, but this course was much more difficult as far as elevation changes and was not a closed or marked course.

Second Longest Ride

So this was my second longest ride.  I am not sure if I will do more of these as I should train for them, but find my bike riding to work quite monotonous.  I need to find more fun routes to go I think.

My good friend Shane was tempted me with Fondo’s in NY and other cities, but I think I want to do something local.  Last year the Gran Fondo DC was cancelled, and I am not confident in my swimming abilities, but would like to try a Triathlon one of these days so say I have done one.  Turning 34 this year, I think I better do it soon! LOL

History: Vasaloppet

Check out the event details at WABA.org.  Here are some details from the WABA page in case it gets taken down.

WABA’s Annual Vasa Ride is our bicycle-themed tribute to Sweden’s legendary Vasaloppet, the world’s longest running cross country ski race in Sweden. Since 1922, thousands from around the world participate in the 90Km cross country ski race the first Sunday of March. Vasaloppet commemorates the trail of renegade Swede King Gustav Eriksson Vasa, who led the rebellion to free Sweden after a long and dangerous pursuit on skis. So why the warm blueberry soup? To keep riders warm and energized of course. It’s as much of an institution as the race itself!  More info on the Vasaloppet.