Saturday, September 18, 2010

Well Fed

Another reason to rejoice over summer's departure: blueberry season is definitively over. It's not that I don't love blueberries. I do. The ones from my in-laws' garden are especially delicate and sweet, and I look forward to hosting a generous container of them in our kitchen every summer. If I lived alone, I would keep them nearby at all times, popping a handful here, a handful there as I pleased.


But I do not live alone. I live with my progeny, and that is how I found myself performing the maddening task of cutting blueberries in half all summer long. Why, you might logically ask, would anyone cut a blueberry in half? It is a ridiculous thing to do, I agree. And yet I have reduced myself to it after discovering that a simple cut mysteriously made Vaccinium corymbosum, heretofore repulsive, quite palatable to one particular toddler. (Who wouldn't commit an irrational act in order to get their child to eat a food that shares a Latin root with the word vaccine?)

And so "Cut," he commands, and then "More cut." And I comply. I also regularly change the diaper of a floppy gray bunny/rag called Vee. These are the humble motions of parenthood, the compromises that color our days and get us where we want to go.


Despite the fastidiousness suggested by such requests, there is nothing dainty about Gabe. He is commonly found charging around the apartment on chubby legs, making things go crash (pronounced frash), bump (boomp), and doink (followed by raucous giggles). Upon seeing him, strangers often predict that he will play football one day (not happening); others have proclaimed him "well fed" and "healthy-looking." You get the picture. Nothing comes into our apartment that can't take a lot of wear and tear. If an object shouldn't be bitten, stomped on, hurled, steamrolled, or made into a tunnel, it has no place here.

So it seems fitting, when I get a moment alone in the kitchen, to turn to oatmeal cookies. Digging my fingers into their chunky batter, I can channel the kind of zeal Gabe exudes when presented with mulch and a toy dump truck. Moreover, studies have shown that mothers who eat oatmeal cookies have more energy for playing horsey, making train sounds, and cutting zillions of tiny blueberries in half day after day. After day. (Okay, I made up the part about the studies, but it's a theory I have).


The cookies you see here are inspired by a recipe I found in Sara Foster's Fresh Every Day cookbook. Amidst other tinkering, I steered the recipe away from any trace of delicacy by using bittersweet chocolate, whole wheat flour, and dried cherries. There is nothing dainty about these cookies; instead, they are crumbly. The chocolate oozes. The cherries are tart, assertive, chewy. This is a food that will gird you for a stroll through the autumn leaves, the cool breeze reminding you to bring along a jacket next time.

This--this, my friends--is the kind of food one can be proud to split in half. Like a cheeseburger, this cookie is substantial enough that it fits better in your mouth if you cut it in two. It is the caloric equivalent of seven pints of blueberries. (Again, merely a theory; no nutritional information has been used to arrive at this wild guess.) And so it is with these ruddy beauties that I say farewell to blueberry slicing for this year. Farewell to daintiness! Break me open a cookie.

*

Dark Chocolate-Cherry Oatmeal Cookies
Adapted from Fresh Every Day by Sara Foster
This recipe makes about 18 large cookies but can easily be doubled. If I'm just baking cookies to have around the house, I often make enough to fit on one cookie sheet and then wrap the rest of the dough in plastic and store it in the fridge until I have a hankering for another small batch.

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground sea salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
6 oz. chopped bittersweet chocolate (or chocolate chips)
1 cup roughly chopped dried cherries

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk the dry ingredients (flour through salt) together in a medium bowl. In a mixer or by hand, cream the butter and sugars until fluffy, about two minutes. Add the egg and mix until well blended, scraping the bowl as needed. Add the vanilla and mix well. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, and mix until everything is well combined. Stir in the chocolate and cherries, finishing the mixing with your hands if needed. Using a tablespoon and your fingers, form the dough into roughly two-inch balls and drop onto the cookie sheets, leaving three inches between cookies. Use your fingers to gently flatten each ball into a disk. Bake for 13 to 15 minutes, rotating the cookie sheets mid-way through the baking. These are done when the edges appear set and the cookies remove easily from the baking sheet. Do not overbake. Allow to cool for a minute or two on the baking sheet. Transfer to a rack to finish cooling.

4 comments:

  1. At first I thought that you were revealing that, like corn on the cob, you don't really enjoy blueberries! We hear from your taste tester that these cookies are delicious and I think they're on our to-do list for the weekend.

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  2. Just made these for my father-in-law's birthday - delicious. I have them waiting on the counter...(I had to move to another room to avoid eating any more.)

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  3. Thanks to you both!

    Dionne, I hope they turn out well! Let me know.

    Megan, I'm so glad you made and liked them. When feeling guilty or deficient in the self-control dept., just remind yourself that they are a critical component of the parental diet, supplying important (albeit little-understood) benefits to both ones physical and mental health. : )

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  4. I just read this again and it is hilarious. Esp the part where you describe Vee as a part bunny, part rag. :) It's funny to read about the coming of autumn on a really beautiful spring day in NYC!

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