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Rain, rain, go away

4.November 2009

When it rains, they say, it pours. One raindrop opens a crack and suddenly everything rushes in and you find yourself suddenly inundated. This is true with the Good, but is at least equally as true with the Bad. When you find yourself up to your ankles and sinking fast in late work, missed deadlines, debts piling up, and emails that have long gone unanswered, it’s easy to get mired down in self-pity and despair.

That’s where I found myself yesterday, badness lapping up around my knees and threatening to swallow me whole. Today is better, though, and I haven’t decided where to give credit. Maybe it’s the good talking-to I gave myself last night, maybe it’s the many hours of mindless, but delicious TV I sank into last night (Oh, Bill Compton, you can bite me anytime!), or maybe, just maybe, it was the cookies.

I thought the smell of something delicious baking would cheer me up and went in search of chocolate chips. No luck. I pulled a lot of extraneous foodstuffs out of the cabinets and found, to my shock and surprise, that I had a whole unopened package of rolled oats. You can see where this is going.I pulled out the big yellow baking book and found their recipe for oatmeal cookies. This book is amazing not only because the recipes are really quite delicious, but because they explain how they arrived at the recipe through their testing process. Of course, you all know me well enough by now to know that I just don’t follow recipes to the letter. So, I added a spice or two here an there, threw in some vanilla and chopped almonds and ended with a cookie with a delicate flavor balance and crazy texture. I think I over-baked them. Either that or I needed a little extra butter to compensate for the extra dryness of the almonds or something. They were a little dry, a little crunchy, but awfully tasty. Best served warm and without bitterness. Bake these and set your worries aside.

Spiced Oatmeal-Almond-Raisin Cookies
adapted from Baking Illustrated

  • 1 1/2 c flour
  • 1/2 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 t ground cardamom
  • 1/2 t vanilla extract
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened but still cool
  • 1 c packed light brown sugar
  • 1 c granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 c old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/4 c chopped sliced almonds
  • 1 c golden raisins
  1. Preheat the oven to 350.
  2. Mix the flour, baking powder, nutmeg, cardamom, and salt together in a bowl.
  3. Mix the oats, raisins, and almonds together in another bowl.
  4. Beat the butter until creamy. Add the sugars and beat until fluffy. Beat in the vanilla, then add the eggs one at a time.
  5. Stir the flour mixture into the butter and sugar with a rubber spatula (but be sure not to accidentally fling dough all over the kitchen – I did).
  6. Stir in the oats, almonds, and raisins. This takes some patience and persistence, but you don’t want to leave some cookies high and dry without the good stuff!
  7. Roll the dough into large balls – the book suggests two-inch balls, but I did them a wee bit smaller (probably 1 1/2 inches) – and place on prepared baking sheets (lined with parchment, or silpat, or generously buttered) about 2 inches apart. I was able to fit a dozen on each of two half-sheets and made two mondo-cookies on another baking sheet.
  8. Bake until the cookie edges turn golden brown, 22-25 minutes (this is where I screwed up – do NOT overbake, as the recipe does indeed warn you). Let cool two minutes on baking sheet, then remove to a wire cooling rack.
  9. Try not to eat them all. They go great with a cup of hot tea or a glass of cold milk, if you’re into that sort of thing.
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