Chewy Molasses Cookies (vegan, gluten-free)

Hello, 2018.

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Today’s mantra is to foil the decrees of fate. It’s a new beginning. A time to accomplish or start something crazy, something you’ve never perhaps thought of doing, something that challenges and awakens you. Though I’m not all one for resolutions, I do believe in constant improvement, be it beginning of the year or just to try for a week, and some of mine include meditation and dedication to spreading some creative plant-lovin’, delicious inspiration. All harnessed by wild flavours, backed by both the sheer fun of it and the constantly evolving, growing fields of scientific research to justify the increased consumption of plants.

This is long-awaited, you and me both. The day is waning and the night, calling. Sitting here in the cutest café in Brick Lane, one that, as usual, I’ve been meaning to visit for quite a while. How I’ve missed the abundance of vegan foodthings and places in London. I’ve found it easier to accommodate and adapt in Singapore and Japan, some of the most vegan-unfriendly places yet in Southeast Asia, but it’s nice to come back to a haven of cheap rice and gourmet goods galore, all of which make this endeavour to be a little more kinder and connected way more convenient. One thing I learnt, especially in the past year, is that it’s ok to not care what other people think. Kein stress.

Japan, the family’s most recent adventure, was a wild chase of dreams. We were caught in a blizzard (not so fun), I had the most amazing vegan kaiseki (darn fun), where they fried apples and braised five different species of yam just for me. Pitied the poor chef, but hey, maybe I helped expand his own creative horizons. Every little course was a magical bonsai garden, bursts of flavour, emotional flavour. It’s this refinement and creativity I wish to recreate in my own sweet, plant-based endeavours.

And here is a recipe that heralds both Christmas and the New Year, from me to you. I made this at the start of the Christmas week, and made it again two days later. And again here, trying to preserve the fire of the festive spirit that is now withering like the sun each day at 4.

Chewy treacly cookies, rounded and sugar-shelled. Spicy, hearty, dense. 

Here’s to defying gravity this 2018.

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Chewy Molasses Cookies (makes 8-10 medium cookies)

Ingredients

50g almond flour

60g cornstarch

pinch of salt

120g almond butter, store-bought or homemade

120g applesauce

50g coconut sugar

1 tsp ground ginger (optional)

1 tsp cinnamon (not optional)

1 tsp baking soda

1 tbsp lemon juice+1 tsp vanilla extract

3 tbsp sugar (I used coconut, but you can use white/brown)

Optional Icing: 1tsp lemon juice+ 5 tbsp icing sugar

Directions

Preheat your oven to 180C (350F). Line two baking trays with parchment paper. Tip all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk everything together with an electric mixer or a fork. Break off large chunks of the dough, roll into balls and place on the parchment paper. Press down lightly so that and bake in the preheated oven for 15-18 minutes. Once done, leave to rest on the counter to cool; they should be quite soft to touch, but don’t do that too much else they’ll just crumble and fall apart. Make the icing and drizzle onto the cookies.

Fresh Starts? And impromptu cafe babble

Little bits of nitbobs before I start.

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This is the 31st of December, am I correct?

No, I can’t be.

Not the 31st, no. Can anyone actually put their head around that? Absurd. Ludicrous. More so than I have ever felt in the past few about-to-be years. Well the rain is beating hard and that always makes me feel more in tune with certain situations. But the surety of such a happening has crossed into the frightening zone, whereby I can no longer comprehend such speed. Honestly, the stuff that’s been digging holes into my awareness of the real world. Rapes, protests, Christmas, journalling, France, Instagram, Stephen King, then… School. Marvellous.

After a good Vinyasa 2 yoga session today, I hopped my way to the closest cinema (yes, that would have to be youth magnet Cathay Cineleisure) just to watch The Hobbit, the screening I am far too behind on. Somewhere in there the big-eyed, less than debonair fellow mentioned how time devours everything. You could say from a more morbid point of view how that is so painful yet true; it consumes every minute of our very being and existence. We are never spared in any state of our lives, wherever we are or whatever we may be doing.

Mind starved of some caffeine and protein, I settled down to have a solo lunch somewhere where I could oversee the hordes of angry bumper-to-bumper cars and savour the dim chill of splitter-and-pop raindrops.

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Iced mocha

See those little chocolate syrup worms at the bottom? On the menu, this had a little star next to it saying ‘highly recommended’. To me, that immediately translated into ‘this will actually have the taste of proper coffee and mocha and not be overly sugar-ridden’. Alas, what am I to expect? Having too high an expectation simply leads to inevitable disappointment. I shut my mouth, ordered the thing, gave it a chance. A slight let down with the (predictable) lashings of sugar sugar sugar, but it was a mocha all the same. It even had a dollop of ice cream, and I craved a few cold scoops.

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Mushroom cheese burger

I saw the fried egg so of course I had to give it a go. Good portion size as well given the price tag. It’s a perfectly symmetrical sun softly calling my name, eventually killing me on the inside if I ignore its all-day pleas. The tragedy of this is that I actually like to taste the cheese and mushroom in a dish. The rustic tang of swiss, the rubbery cut of buttered shroom. Minus copious amounts of mayonnaise and a half-tasteless medium patty (I enjoy mine rare.)

Ah yes, and minus the top bun and fries, for I can’t care for excess stodge lying around and disrupting the purity of good flavour. Have mentioned this before, but all that bread is just asking to dilute the taste of a nice burger, no matter how well done. I came here previously to have this darling bowl:

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Unagi and tofu salad

Like most such green mountains, the saviour would normally be the dressing, a perfect balance of sweet and tang, and sometimes some spice. Good thing these guys added fatty unagi and cold cut tofu to provide bites well worth the adjectives wholesome and refreshing.

But that was salad day. Today was I-need-a-damn-burger-and-some-bulk day. Along with a dose of hairy-footed elves, goblins and a hobbit. Sad to think how it all ends here, right now, humbug in hand, a little mascara smudged on my lower lid.

They say a new year’s a new start with fresh resolutions and a will to keep them. Going back to my past with all my tested trials, I will hereby predict that some will be kept, and some will (might, I pray) be broken. I’ll just sit here with Stephen King for the time being, propelled back to the 1960s with Ford Sunliners and manual Cokes, and be comforted by the fact that 2013 may indeed be to my liking.

Perhaps time won’t leave a sour aftertaste in its wake, even after devouring everything.

Life turns on a dime.