Moving difference, chocolate chip cookies, and Wendy Babcock

This post is will be a bit different from my usual fear-factor-yet-delicious-and-cute cooking blog (and the keyword searches keep coming).

One day, some time ago, through the information superhighway, “Moving Difference,” contacted me, wondering if I might like to create a post with a few ideas for sharable food. Their project is to encourage people to “get out there and moving to help someone or something in your community,” for one hour per week, all summer long, and then for everyone who participated to watch the last summer sunset on September 21. Moving goodness. I was happy to help enable such a great cause. And through food, no less! Love food.

Of course for my pilot version of the food share, I needed to think of food that was straightforward for others to prepare, and also a destination where it would be appreciated. Because Wendy Babcock has been on my mind, Eva’s Phoenix has also been on my mind.

Many years ago, I volunteered to be a mentor with Eva’s Phoenix, a Toronto shelter for homeless or at-risk youth. Eva’s Phoenix is a cool old ambulance garage that was converted into apartments, where youth stay for about a year until they find their feet with job training and life preparedness, although most have already learned more life lessons than anyone would care to. I was paired with a number of “mentees,” but the first few kept missing appointments and weren’t really into it. Finally, though, the volunteer coordinator said, “Don’t worry, Ann, I’ve paired you with someone special who I think will work out this time.” That person was Wendy, and we were close friends until I lost her to depression almost exactly two years ago. This picture is the only one I have of us together, taken at the Pride Parade in 2004.



We’re the two to the right of the lady in the middle. I have no clue why the pic is so stretched. Maybe the middle lady isn’t actually so tall.

I miss Wendy like crazy. I won’t go on about our friendship, but there were big highs and lows in her life, and I tried to be there through all of them. When she passed, she had just completed her first year of law school, even though she hadn’t finished high school. She had a crazy sense of humour. She was an outspoken advocate for sex worker rights who the papers were always fighting to interview. She taught me a lot about myself, and about people I need to be standing up for. She was very strong while also vulnerable at the same time. I admired her. I try to channel her when I need to be fearless in standing up for what I believe in. Most of all, she was a close friend.

And as I mentioned, we met at Eva’s. Shortly before she died, there was a rumour that funding would be cut from Eva’s and that the city was going to close it down. She quickly rallied many people together, prepared to loudly and publicly protest. Eva’s was a haven that had given her opportunity when she had no options, and I know it has done the same for many others. Luckily, it’s still there.

So I made them cookies.

IMG_4711Sounds ridiculous, I know, but I think Moving Difference might be about making small differences that implants ideas about making bigger change. Small gestures change outlooks. Making food reminded me that although I’m juggling little kids (sometimes literally) I need to make time for helping out however I can. People may be getting cookies more often. And then I felt bad I was pushing unhealthy cookies, so I made up a healthier sharable recipe and passed those along too.


These are both straightforward recipes without many ingredients that don’t need special equipment, so even a novice should make and share them with someone – please tell me if you’ve done that in the comments here! I’m hoping an Eva’s resident might pop in give one of the recipes a try and share it too.

Love you, Wendy.

Chocolate chip cookies that stay soft

Equipment: Cookie sheet, hopefully a measuring cup (but a mug is about one cup’s worth), two mixing bowls

  • 2 1/4Cups flour
  • ½ teaspoon (small spoon) baking soda
  • 1 Cup (half a brick) butter, soft by leaving it on the counter
  • ½ Cup white sugar
  • 1 Cup brown sugar, packed down tight
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla if you have it
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 Cups chocolate chips
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix the flour and baking soda together in a bowl
  3. Mix the sugars with the butter in another bowl. Add eggs, one by one, mixing between. Mix in vanilla.
  4. Mix 1/3 of the dry bowl into the wet bowl. When incorporated, mix another 1/3. Mix the rest in. Mix in the chocolate chips.

IMG_47075.  Get a tablespoon and drop small dollops onto the cookie sheet. You should be able to fit 12 cookies on the sheet at once.

IMG_47066. Bake about 12 minutes, until the edges of the cookies go brown. Let cool 5-10 minutes, move them to a plate with a spatula, then do another batch.

7. Give them away


Cold shrimp salad rolls

  • Round rice paper (in the “ethnic aisle,” of the grocery store, as my grandfather would inappropriately say)


  • Cheap bag of frozen shrimp. I paid $5 for a pretty good bag
  • Carrots, slivered. I found these pre-cut in a bag in the salad section, but you can also shred your own


  • Mixed greens
  • 1 mango, peeled and sliced thin
  • Cilantro – this is very important if you like it. Find it in the herb section


  • Bean sprouts or red pepper, if desired
  • Basically, this recipe is salad in a cold rice wrap, so whatever you have works fine
  1. Boil a large pot of water. When boiling, dump in the bag of shrimp and boil until pink, and then a little longer. Drain and peel them.
  2. Heat water and put it in a pan that is big enough to fit the rice wraps
  3. Peel the mango and slice it
  4. Dunk a rice wrap in the warm water. Let it sit 5 seconds, then put it on a plate. Put your fillings in the centre: shrimp, mixed greens, carrots, cilantro, bean sprouts

IMG_47205. Tuck in the top and bottom of the wrap

IMG_47216. Fold the right side over the fillings, and then roll the whole thing over to make a wrap. Pull it tight – the rice wrap will be stretchy

7. Cut in half, but this makes it kind of fall apart, so sorry if it sucked to eat them, Eva’s readers! If I were to do it again, I’d leave it in one piece

8. Give them away

Question: How are you going to give back this week?


  1. Leave a Reply

    August 15, 2013

    Wow. Wendy sounds like she was a pretty amazing lady.
    I’m very inspired by this post and will check out both moving difference and Eva’s . Thanks for inspiring !!

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