Saturday, February 10, 2007

Oatmeal Anyone?
By now we're all familiar with the word that oatmeal is a great food to include in our diets but not everyone is ready for a bowl of mush. Here's a great way to include fiber in our diet and satisfy our sweet tooth at the same time. Quick and easy to make, oatmeal cookies require no special culinary talent and no fancy ingredients. If you don't have an heirloom recipe that's been handed down from your grandmother, just follow the directions on an oatmeal box.

I normally add raisins and walnuts to oatmeal cookies but today I used 1/2 cup of mixed candied dried fruit and 1/2 cup of chopped pecans. One of the tricks to producing a chewy cookie as opposed to a crisp cookie is to not over bake it. After 10 minutes in a 350° oven, I start watching carefully. The cookies should be brown around the edges but not quite set in the center. They'll firm up as they cool and the result is a toothsome tidbit.

Allowing the cookies to cool completely on a cooling rack before storing them in an airtight container will assure they stay fresh and chewy for days. If they last that long. Try it — baking's not only fun, homemade sweets are the best!

I like to bake on Saturday mornings as I listen to favorite programs on public radio. It's both relaxing and productive. I end up with goodies to eat and don't miss a beat of "Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me" or "The Arts Connection" or I bake right after lunch and listen to Ira Glass and "This American Life".

The Cookies

I use 3/4 cup of butter not vegetable shortening (hydrogenated product) and I cut back on the amount of sugar called for in most recipes. One cup of brown sugar and 1/2 cup of white is enough, with 3 cups of oatmeal, one cup of flour, 1/2 tsp of baking soda, one tsp salt, one beaten egg, 1/2 cup of water, one tsp vanilla. Beat the butter and sugar together until light and creamy, add the egg and water and mix well. Whisk together the oatmeal, flour, baking soda and a teaspoon of salt in a separate bowl and then add to the wet mixture. Once the dry ingredients have been incorporated, add 1/2 cup each of the extras of your choice. Chocolate chips, chopped nuts, raisins, dried cherries or apricots, coconut or combinations of any of these. Be adventurous; experiment. I cover the baking sheets with parchment paper and drop the dough by rounded tablespoons for large cookies; rounded teaspoons for smaller cookies. Don't overcrowd the cookie sheets - 3 across and 4 down seems to be good spacing for the big cookies. The large cookies take anywhere from 12 - 15 minutes at 350° or a little longer depending on the accuracy of the temperature in your oven. Watch them after 10 minutes to be on the safe side. Smaller cookies cook more quickly. Vigilance pays.

Till next time . . . keep on cooking.


Asha said...

I love these.I made once with raisins half ground and mixed with dough.Unfortunately,I lost the recipe.Looks great,I love it when they are soft and chewy.Enjoy them Joyce.

Freya said...

Homemade cookies are the best, especially oatmeal ones! You have a lovely blog!

Kate said...

A bowl full of mush?? No way!!

With dried blueberries and cranberries, chopped roasted almonds, ground flaxseed and a spoonful of honey, it's a bowl of pure warmth and delicious health. No mush!

Beautiful photos! Very nice. I will check back often to see what you are up to. I like the site!