Ninja doesn’t believe in seasonal foods. He doesn’t really believe in seasonal anything. Sometimes I tell him that I can’t serve a particular dish or wear a particular colour because it is too wintry or too summery and he looks at me with a confused expression on his face. Perhaps it is a consequence of growing up in Israel where there are no clear seasons apart from hot, very hot, disgustingly boiling, and cold, with brief flirtations in between which one might call spring or autumn.
Oatmeal, however, is decidedly wintry. No one wakes up on a hot summer’s day and makes themselves a steaming bowl of oatmeal (or what we English call porridge), do they? So in my head, oatmeal cookies retain that same association and are very fitting for a blustery, stormy, or even a sunny winter’s day. Today the skies are depressingly, determinedly grey – quite unusual for Israel – and I have comforted myself by munching on oatmeal cookies and sipping mug after mug of fruit tea.
The apricot twist on the regular oatmeal and raisin cookies was inspired by my exotic, wonderful and wise friend Colette, who was visiting Israel last week en route to India. As we chatted, she effortlessly (without measuring cups!!) threw together one of the most delicious banana breads I have ever eaten. It was made only from wholesome ingredients and was jam-packed full of healthy surprises including organic dried apricots, fresh ginger, lemon rind and pecans. I was so excited by the ingredients that we went to the market and bought me some of those delicious apricots, and some other sugar-free dried fruit.
I have already put those apricots to good use, making Colette’s banana bread, and a few days later these oatmeal cookies, into which I chucked some chopped apricots and cranberries for a fruity twist. I am pleased with myself as they came out very nicely indeed if I say so myself…
What was even more fun is that baking cookies gave me an opportunity to try out some lovely gift bags from Japan which my friend Dannii recently gave me. Dannii is queen of all things kitsch, creative and cupcake, and she knew that I would love these little bags, perfect for giving away home-baked cookies and sweets. So thanks Dannii and thanks Colette!
Oatmeal, Apricot and Cranberry Cookies
Adapted from Sweet Amandine’s Oatmeal Cookies
Makes about 30-40 large cookies
1 cup butter, at room temperature
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
½ c. granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 ½ c. whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp all spice
½ tsp salt
3 c. oats (I used Quakers Quick Cooking)
1 cup (or more) chopped dried apricots and cranberries
Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
1. Beat together the butter and the sugars until creamy. Add the eggs and the vanilla, and beat well.
2. Stir together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in a separate bowl. Then, add the combined dry ingredients to the butter-sugar-eggs mixture, and mix well. Stir in the oats, and the dried fruit.
3. Line a cookie sheet or two with baking paper and drop the dough (which is quite firm) by rounded tablespoonfuls.
4. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove the cookies to a wire rack. They will be quite soft when you remove them from the oven, but will harden as they cool.