Sweet of the Week #10, Lazy Samoas with Janey

I was never a Girl Scout and not a huge fan of Girl Scout Cookies, except for Thin Mints and Samoas. I realized when I saw the little cuties selling cookies in the grocery store lobby how much I missed those cookies and wanted to try making my own.

Over the Summer while in Denver, I had a Scout cookie at Watercourse.* It was divine–vegan, gluten-free and HUGE. It wasn’t quite a Samoa but it was very, very close according to my distant memories of Girl Scout cookies. I thought I would try to replicate their version of the Samoa but then I came across the Lazy Samoa recipe in Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero.

I go on and on about a handfull of cookbooks, but must say I would be completely lost without the Moskowitz/Romero collection. First for me was the cupcake cookbook, then Veganomicon, then the cookie book, now the brunch cookbook…I think everyone, regardless of their desire to eat vegan, should own their cookbooks. The recipes are a great opportunity to try ingredients with which you may be unfamiliar and I would bet you will be very pleasantly surprised, perhaps even healthier. Every recipe I have made from their cookbooks has been t-a-s-t-y. How many cookbooks can you say that about? That is why I don’t bother to put their cookbooks away, they stay out in my kitchen and are very well loved, food-stained and frosting splattered.

This week’s sweet is the Lazy Samoa cookie on page 173. Here are the tiny changes I made to the recipe:
1. I used Let’s Do Organic’s reduced fat, unsweetened, finely shredded coconut. It was fun to toast coconut in a skillet. I had only used the cookie sheet and oven method before.
2. Instead of all-purpose flour, I used Arrowhead Mills All Purpose Gluten-Free Baking Mix
3. I used Guittard chocolate chips, which are not guaranteed vegan. They are what I had in the cupboard and while I try to limit dairy, I try not to be wasteful so used what was handy. There is nothing in the ingredients that immediately shouted “not vegan,” however there is potential manufacturing cross-contamination.
4. I increased the baking time to 11 minutes, probably due to the flour substitution.

These cookies were very easy to make. I stayed up late and baked until well after midnight in a quiet house with only our elderly dog occasionally walking past the doorway to the kitchen in hopes of snagging a crumb. The recipe made 30 cookies and they are every bit as good as any Girl Scout cookie I have ever eaten. They are chewy, chocolaty, toasted coconut-y, YUMMY. Using my cupboard ingredients, I figured these to be only 111 calories each. Wow!

This week’s Sweet Friend is my next-door neighbor Janey. She is everything I could ever wish for in a neighbor: she shares baked goodies and produce from her garden often, she watches my dogs when I am out of town, she even changed the water in my 4 year-old betta fish’s bowl when I have was out of town with the dogs and forgot to make plans for the fish. She keeps an eye out for all of the neighbors and always has a smile and wave. But the best part is what she does for the neighborhood.

Janey works at a greenhouse. She plants mums by the thousands, she assembles beautiful succulent gardens in unusual containers, she resurrects half dead plants, encouraging them to grow tall and bloom profusely. Her work extends beyond the greenhouse though. Her yard, her front steps, even her driveway are filled with beautiful plants.

I do not even attempt the keeping-up-with-the-Jones thing with Janey. It’s not possible. In our old neighborhood, our yard was always among the prettiest. In our current abode, our yard is still full of beautiful blooms but can’t compare to Janey’s artistry with plants. Her house is so well cared for and it encourages the neighbors in our subdivision to follow suit, to plant our own flowering gardens, to grow our own produce.

On more than a few occasions, I’ve returned home from a long day of work to find a huge container garden on my front step, courtesy of Janey. Sometimes it’s a full flat of struggling petunias that were tossed into the dumpster, saved by Janey and delivered to my house for rehydration and love. We chat across the backyard fence about unusual plants and I often ask for the secrets to growing things Janey-style. We both planted castor beans last year. Janey’s grew to 15 feet tall. Mine never reached the top of the 4 foot fence. She has a very green thumb and it makes me happy to live next to her.

*I thoroughly enjoyed everything about dining at Watercourse in Denver. As with any restaurant, I read mixed reviews, some of them downright horrible. That was not my experience. I dined with two carnivores and both raved about the food, the baked goodies and the service. The server was well-versed in what was gluten free, what could possibly be cross-contaminated and what I didn’t want to miss. She was spot on with her recommendations. On another night in Denver, I went on a long late night walk through downtown with my hubby to Watercourse’s City O’City coffeehouse. We had a perfect midnight snack, including Scout cookies. Watercourse is in my top 5 vegetarian restaurants. I hope you’ll visit them!

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