Saturday, February 13, 2010

The World's Best Cookies and the Olympics

After watching last night's opening ceremonies for the Vancouver Olympics (more on that later), I had a hankering to make Gold Medal Cookies. But - alas - I couldn't find the recipe. The recipe I remember had a ridiculous number of ingredients, including golden raisins, nuts, flax and other seeds, other dried fruit - it was a doozy. I can't find a like one online.

Not to be deterred from cookie baking, I decided to whip up a batch of the World's Best Cookies. I have no idea where this recipe came from, other than my mother made these often when I was a kid. These are chocolate chip, nut and oatmeal - a classic. This is the first cookie recipe I've baked without eggs. And guess what - it turned out great! I don't know why I'm surprised - so far, eggless baking has been a huge success.I did a new egg substitute (new to me), using chia seeds. Chia seeds, if you don't know, are full of anti-oxidants and omega fatty acids. They are so good for you! You may have heard of them as "Salba", which you can pick up at grocery and health food stores (I've seen it at Shoppers Drug Mart, too), or you can buy them at bulk food stores for a little less money. The seeds are tiny and crunchy (great sprinkled on breakfast cereal, oatmeal or yogourt). When they're wet, the seeds develop a gel as they absorb liquid. So, for each egg in a recipe, whisk 1 tsp of chia seeds into 1/4 cup of warm water. Let it sit for a while as you assemble the rest of the recipe, whisking occasionally. You will see the chia seeds in the product; for these it doesn't really matter, I used dark seeds whole. But you can, if you like, use white seeds and grind them in a clean spice mill to powder before mixing them into the water, for recipes that you don't want dark flecks in.

World's Best Cookies (eggless version)

2 tsp chia seeds + 1/2 c warm water
1 c butter (softened) or shortening
3/4 c white sugar
3/4 c brown sugar (packed)
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 c chocolate chips
2 c quick-cooking oatmeal
1 c chopped walnuts (optional)

Whisk the chia seeds and water together and set aside. Preheat oven to 375F.
Combine flour, soda and salt in a medium bowl.
Cream butter and sugars. Add chia gel and vanilla, mix well. Add in the flour mixture, stir to combine, then add the remaining ingredients.
Scoop tablespoons of dough onto parchment paper lined baking sheets (or well-greased - I like parchment), with an inch between each cookie. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden. Allow to cool for a few minutes on cookie sheets before removing to cooling racks.
Makes about 5 dozen.

(If you eat eggs, you can substitute 2 eggs for the chia and water.)

Try these! Really.

I found there is no difference in flavour using the chia gel; the only difference I have noticed with eggless baking is that things take just a few minutes longer. With eggs this recipe bakes in 8-10 minutes; with the chia gel it's more like 12. Muffins take about 5 minutes longer using a ground flax & water egg substitute.


Okay, about the Olympics. I am a proud Canadian. And I loved that everyone in the ceremony seemed proud and humble as well.

But the ceremony itself was a little bit of a wet blanket, to my eyes. We watched it with friends and found ourselves groaning (with boredom, with agony, with embarrassment) at different points.

The MC (Lloyd Robertson, right?) didn't sound excited, and I felt like his having to - or at least, feeling the need to - explain what was happening on stage was so didactic.

The First Nations dancers were pretty neat but had to keep dancing and dancing while country after country's athletes arrived. By the end the dancing was kind of an exhausted flailing. And at the beginning, when they first came out and the four giant dildoes totem poles rose out of the stage... Yeah. Someone didn't think that through.

The music was simply awful. Nelly Furtado and Bryan Adams had no chemistry on stage at all, and looked like they were lip-syncing. The opera singer at the end was cringe-worthy. k.d.lang has a brilliant voice, but the song choice - Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah - didn't feel appropriate. The token francophone soft-rocker? Ugh.

The choreography was brutal; the only segment that I really enjoyed was the ski- and snowboarders on wires. That fiddling thing was painful to watch! My friend said it best - they had kind of a badass punk thing going on, and I can't think of anything less Canadian than "badass" and "punk".

They kept panning the officiants, and between Michaelle Jean sitting with her eyes closed half the time, other guys with their heads down on their crackberries, all-around glazed looks of boredom, and people running up and down the stairs in the background, it was an embarrassing showing. Seeing Harper there just made me mad again about him proroguing parliament.

The cross-country representation (the west coast First Nations/salmon/whales, the prairie grass business with the W.O.Mitchell quote and that kid floating around, the east coast fiddly thing, the francophone singer as a tenuous Quebec reference, the ice floes) left out Ontario completely from what I saw. And felt less like a tribute than a cliche.

The Olympic flag was brought in by the seniors' brigade - all accomplished and respected Canadians, but it seemed weird to watch them all dressed in white, smiling bravely as they carried the flag across the stage.

Then the debacle as the torch-bearers stood there with frozen smiles, waiting for the faulty hydraulics to lift the crystal things... And Gretsky's interminable, wet ride through Vancouver streets to the waterfront torch, with hooligans running alongside... *sigh*

I did like that the audience was all in white ponchos, it made a nice backdrop. And the stage lighting was neat, especially that part with the whales. Loved that. I liked the slam poet (and I wasn't expecting to).

Overall, decent effort, but I really felt they could have cut the program in half, ditched the singing, improved the stage, given everyone some coffee or something to perk them up, and spent more time on the choreography.

Like I said, I am a proud Canadian. I love my country and think it's pretty cool that we're hosting the winter Olympics this year. I guess I was just expecting more.


  1. I didn't watch the ceremony last night...sounds like I didn't miss too much. I have to say I was pleased that you said you enjoyed the slam poetry, because my son is a slammer :)

  2. I agree.. I found myself exclaiming "This is so embarrassing!" throughout the ceremony, especially during the beginning and towards the end. The thing that pissed me off the most was the despicably jazzy rendition of the Canadian national anthem. That was just wrong.

    Also, the fact that that Georgian luge guy died during his practice run was so sad... and it seemed to put a bit of a damper on the ceremony as well. Overall, not a good way to start the Olympics.

  3. I watched the Opening Ceremony live and wasn't too impressed either, but my brother and niece both watched it on Tivo and they thought it was really great because they could skip through the slow parts and were really impressed with it.


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