Give 10 people the same recipe and you'll get 10 results. It's part of what I love about cooking. And in the hours I spend perusing food blogs, I am consistently struck by two paradoxical thoughts: how similar we all are and at the same time, I see and experience our differences. What an amazing time we live in that I can visit kitchens in Toronto, Hong Kong, NYC, Vancouver, Los Angeles and Buenos Aires in the space of a few minutes.
The only things missing are the smells – although those are easily imagined with the help of some great writing -- and the tastes, which can be recreated in my own kitchen in my own way.
If you read this blog, or are a part of the extended food-blogging community, you probably know about Jennifer Perillo who recently lost her husband. Watching people from all walks of life and stretching the globe band together to help this woman and her little girls has been incredibly touching. It has also gotten me thinking about that same paradox of cooking: how many of us felt touched by her story because we feel a similarity, and yet how different most of our lives are from hers.
When you think about it, however, no matter where we live, who we are or what we do; no matter what our circumstances, after our basic needs are met, we all want the same thing: to be happy. But it is exactly where our desires concur that we differ – as the meaning of happiness is so personal.
So I have these cookies, right? My Everyday Cookies that I blogged about a few weeks back. As I said then, cooking is what I do when life gets complicated. It's what I do when life is great, when it's hard, when I'm scared, when I'm happy. These days, cooking is oftentimes my main creative outlet.
Originally these cookies were created as something that Vida Lev could enjoy on the go. They weren't meant to do anything beyond that. I needed something simple, quick, and, of course, healthy and delicious.
One night, on a whim, I made them. And my little girl loved them as did her Dad. Then the neighbour enjoyed a few, and my mother and grandmother. My brother took a box, my niece gobbled some. These silly little cookies were a Picky Foodie hit.
Whenever someone confided that they were worried about giving their children processed food, or that they didn’t have much time (or desire) to cook, I would point them to my Everyday Cookies.
The responses have been wonderful.
“These are going to be a problem!” one friend emailed forty-five minutes after I’d sent her the recipe.
“Fantastic!” came another friend’s message, “we can’t stop eating them” (we meaning herself, her husband and her little one – you see, these cookies are inter-generational).
I actually make two batches at a time now – one for DW and one for Vida Lev. The best part of these cookies is that the basic recipe remains the same:
1 ½ - 2 cups ground almonds
¼ cup melted coconut oil
¼ cup maple syrup
½ cup raisins
1 egg (optional and very much according to personal taste – including it will create a softer cookie. For the record: Vida Lev likes the egg while DW prefers without.)
Preheat the oven to 175 Centigrade (347 Fahrenheit)
Using an ice cream scoop, drop the cookie batter on a non-stick baking sheet in even mounds. Flatten lightly with a wet fork (optional).
Bake for 9-11 minutes, depending on your oven. The cookies should come out of the oven slightly browned around the edges but still soft. Allow to cool completely before serving.
And when I run out of one ingredient, I substitute another without fuss: so far, we’ve done the plain version, a batch with honey, some with and some without vanilla, and one with banana and rosemary. Sometimes I’ve blended the ingredients together, other times I’ve left the raisins intact. These are low-maintenance cookies for sure.
They’re so insanely easy. It makes me wonder why I bother with the more complicated stuff.
But another, unexpected development has emerged: using the basic recipe as a template, the inhabitants of my virtual as well as my in-person world have started making these cookies and in doing so they have adapted this recipe in a myriad of ways. People have been making it their own, changing things around to suit their unique palate and best of all, they’ve let me know about it. It’s been wonderful to read about in emails and see the results in pictures.
So much so that I’ve been inspired to reach out to the larger community.
Here’s the idea: if you have or are interested in making your own version of my Everyday Cookies, I’d love to hear about it. Please send me your additions, subtractions, changes and adaptations as well as any information you’d like me to include about you. Photographs are welcome too.
Please email your entry no later than October 12th, 2011 to: Gabriela at thepickyfoodie.com
In order to show my appreciation for our similarities and our diversity, participants will receive an e-copy of the collected recipes.
N.B. On a side-note, Jennifer Perillo needs our help. Bloggers Without Borders have created #afundforjennie to help her and her children in this difficult time. Please check out their site and bid or donate what you can.