I got lucky this weekend.
I had been jonesing to attend WAM! 2009 (that's Women, Action & the Media: A Conference for Activists, Journalists & Everyone) for a couple of months now. Due to the generosity of some dear friends who offered me a bed for the weekend, I got to go. It was, by far, one of the best weekends of my life.
Have I mentioned that I'm a Feminist? That's right, I am. The kind with a capital F, thanks. In my free reading time, I devour cookbooks and feminist fiction, throwing in a healthy dash of pop culture critique to taste. Sometimes I'm not sure how to fuse my immense love of artisanal cheeses and farmers markets with my adoration for feisty feminist blogs that challenge the gendered status quo. This weekend, those two seemingly separate worlds collided in me, and I don't think I can look back.
This weekend was filled with swiss chard sauteed with sweet onions and eaten straight from the pan with Jess and Yoana, my incredible hosts. It included a lunchtime discussion on the immense barriers that prevent residents of low-income communities in cities like New York and Chicago from accessing fresh produce like that I had gleefully enjoyed the night before. On more than one occasion, I found myself confronted by the issues at play when I consume meat and other animal products; the workers whom I affect through my own culinary choices, for better or worse.
I'm still reeling from all the learning I did this weekend, from all the accomplished activists and writers and people I met. I won't bore you with my glee. Instead, I'll share with you some delicious cookies to make when you visit your favorite vegan friend. Or anybody, really. Try them. You'll like them.
Peanut Butter Cookies
Adapted from Heidi Swanson's 101 Cookbooks
2 cups all-purpose flour, whole wheat pastry flour, or spelt flour
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. sea salt
1 cup organic, natural peanut butter (chunky or smooth, depending on your preference)
1 cup agave nectar (or maple syrup)
1/3 cup canola oil
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place one rack in the top third. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. In a larger bowl, combine the peanut butter, agave nectar, canola oil and vanilla. Pour the flour mixture over the peanut butter mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until it's all barely combined ("still a bit dusty looking", as Heidi says). Let it all sit for five minutes, and then give it one more stir.
Throw the bowl in the freezer for 20 minutes or so. Take the bowl out, and shape tablespoon-sized cookies into rough balls with your hands, laying them on a well-oiled baking sheet or Silpat. Wet a fork slightly, and then press the cookies down with its back, in different directions to make a criss-cross design. If the cookies start to stick to the fork, just wet it again.
Bake for 10 minutes, until the edges of the cookies just start to brown. You really don't want to overcook these, as they get crunchier in the hour after they bake, as they cool. Let them sit on the baking sheet for five minutes, then transfer them gently to a rack to cool and harden.
Enjoy with old friends, new acquaintances, your family and/or your favorite snuggle buddy.