Thursday, March 18, 2010

Wildflowers and Cookies

 The recipe for these is in this post, I promise!

I always try and keep a positive attitude.  Emphasis on try.  I have a lot to be happy about right now.  Sure I'm getting fired next Tuesday, but my sister will be in town with my nephew all week!  I am having my cousin over for a dim sum dinner (oh, you know there's going to be a ton more on that later).  And, best of all, it's Spring!  It's hard to tell it's Spring in Southern California.  There isn't really Spring weather, per se.  It's the period between Winter and Summer when the weather can't make up its mind.  One day it'll be raining (ok, slightly drizzling), overcast, and cold, and the very next day will be all sunshine and blue skies.  Then three days later the drizzles are back, etc.  It goes back and forth like this until the weather settles on hot.  The big Spring indicator I've found is the flowers.  They're in bloom!  Well, ok, also, there are these two ducks that keep, ahem, "coupling" in the pool in my complex.  Yeah, that's also how you know it's Spring. Nature has its tells.
I tried not to interrupt this guy's lunch

 The leaves on this flower looked like little butterfly wings

Anyway, back to flowers.  The weekend before last, as my new thing for March, I drove out to the dessert with a friend of mine to check out the wild flowers that were just coming into bloom.  They would have been even better this last weekend or this coming weekend, but we were both busy the whole rest of the month.  But there was still plenty take in and enjoy and photograph!  I had never been out there before, and it was beautiful!  Definitely worth the drive!  Husband had a conflict and couldn't make it.  In hindsight that's probably a good thing.  He would have been bored sitting in a car for a few hours, only to watch my friend and I wander around off the side of a dirt road, snapping pictures of itty bitty flower buds. Not exactly his thing.

A lot of the flowers were just showing signs of wanting to bloom

You know what is Husband's thing?  Cookies.

See what I did there?  That's called a transition.  Guess you could say I'm good at them.  Creative at least.  Good at attempting creativity?  Yeah, we'll go with that.

Anyway, I've had a lot of time on my hands, and depressed, know what?  Whatever!  You don't even need a reason or excuse or logical thought in order to make oatmeal cookies.  These are whole grain, baby!  They have dried fruit and vitamin C!  And actually, for cookies, they're pretty light on butter and sugar.  Indulgent dessert these are, for certainly, but nutrient void?  Certainly not!  And more important: really freaking delicious! I brought some of these into work (give them a taste of what they'll be missing when I'm gone!  Ha!  Ok, the people I share food with aren't the people in any way involved in staffing decisions, which is the only reason Husband allowed me to share them in the first place.), and I got ton of compliments on how chewy and flavorful they were.  One person said she doesn't even like oatmeal cookies, and she loved these.  Another co-worker was inspired to go home and bake her own batch that very same day, after I told her my trick for thick and chewy cookies. I'm going to miss having people to feed.

Chewy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cherry Coconut Cookies

Heavily adapted from The Go Lightly Gourmet

Makes about 24 cookies

1 cup dried cherries (or cranberries), chopped
1/2 cup orange juice
1 TB Grand Marnier (optional)
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, at room temperature
3 TB honey
1 egg, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 TB orange zest
3 cups old fashioned oats
3/4 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup shredded coconut

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a small bowl, combine cherries, orange juice, and Grand Marnier (if using).  Set aside.

3. In a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes on medium speed).

4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and orange zest. Set aside.

5. Once the butter mixture is creamed, turn the mixer to low and add the honey, then the egg, then the cherries (with juice), and finally the vanilla, waiting for each ingredient to fully mix in before adding the next.

6. Add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture and mix until just barely incorporated.  Fold in the oats, chocolate chips, and coconut.

7. Spoon the dough onto cookie sheets, about 1 TB per cookie (I used a 1 1/2TB those!).  Space them about 2 inches apart.  Gently press each ball of dough with your fingers, or the back of a spoon, until slightly pressed down.  Move the cookie sheets to the refrigerator for 20 minutes (or the freezer for 10 minutes).** 

8. When dough is chilled, move cookie sheets to the oven, and bake for 8-10 minutes, or until cookies are set and starting to turn golden brown.

**Alternatively, if you don't have fridge space, chill the dough in the bowl prior to spooning it out onto the cookie sheets.  I prefer to chill it after spooning so I know it's cold when it goes into the oven.  The point of chilling the dough is so it doesn't spread too much during baking, keeping them thick and chewy.

Aside: This recipe would be perfect alliteration, if only oatmeal started with a C!  It is henceforth known at coatmeal!


Aj said...

Those cookies look good! I'm not a fan of oatmeal cookies, but I think I'll give this recipe a try sometime.

Nice pictures of the flowers, which desert is this?

I kind of like our spring's indecisiveness. Yesterday's 80 degree weather made me miss the winter weather.. then on days that are cooler like today, I miss the warm, summer weather haha.

Kelly said...

Whoa you are cooking a dim sum dinner yourself!? How fun, I can't wait to read about it! :)

I know what you mean about the weather... Yesterday it was in the mid 60's (that is perfect here :) ) and tomorrow it is supposed to snow!! I still love Spring though.. I am not a big fan of hot weather :)

I LOVE oatmeal cookies. I've never thought about using anything other than raisins or cranberries.. I'll have to give cherries a try sometime!

Andrea said...

Sorry about your job! Stupid jobs. Maybe there will be some extra time for cooking instead? That's better than working. And I'm personally always a huge fan of the oatmeal cookie. It might even be my favorite. I love how chunky (in the most complimentary way) yours look!

Anonymous said...

Oooh I like the changes you made to it! I do love chocolate and coconut in an oatmeal cookie! I hope these cheered you up. Good luck on your next adventure. The Go-lightly Gourmet

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