Today was a snowy baking day although I wasn’t ready to make Candy Cane Cookies or Cappuccino Flats. Yes, I know Christmas is just two weeks and a few days away and holiday baking should be in full swing but I am still in Advent mode.
From the autumn section of Beth Dooley’s The Northern Heartland Kitchen and using craisins harvested just a mile from Mom’s Lac Courte Oreilles house, I tried Beth’s Oatmeal Chocolate Chip and Dried Cranberry Cookies, with two small modifications:
Mine include coarsely chopped pecans – a nod to my southern heritage. Each year, Aunt Mini Lou would send a bushel basket sized box of just fallen pecans, raked from her Alabama lawn and mailed to our Wisconsin house. (Although one year she sent Vidalia onions much to the amusement of our postal delivery person.)
The recipe calls for the stiff dough to be dropped by tablespoon but I opted to use my teaspoon scoop as Richard and I prefer petite rather than ginormous desserts.
They might not be the most photogenic, but the crunch of oatmeal and pecans, combined with the sweetness of chocolate and the cranberry tartness make a delicious treat.
My afternoon bake was oatmeal cookies with sweetened craisins just purchased last week direct from the source at W.D. Zawistowski Cranberries. This cranberry marsh is located on the corner of County E and Victory Heights Circle in Sawyer County Wisconsin. Set back from the road, on the edge of the marsh, the small white concrete block building serves as a berry receiving and sorting center at harvest time, as well as a rudimentary farmer-to-customer sales counter. And, it is just a mile from Mom’s Lac Courte Oreilles cabin.
Cranberries grow on short evergreen shrubs and thrive in acidic marshy soil in the northern climes of our hemisphere – with Wisconsin leading harvest numbers (Go Badgers!). At harvest time, the bogs are intentionally flooded so the lighter-than-water bright red fruit will float to the top and can be scooped or raked for collection. This unique harvesting method, often seen in TV ads promoting cranberry juice, leads to the common misconception that cranberries grow in water.
If your only experience with cranberries is mass market sauce plopped from a can at Thanksgiving you are missing a culinary treat. This versatile fruit provides a tasty addition to any course from appetizer to dessert. And, while I have never planned a menu featuring cranberries in every dish, it could easily be accomplished. I was lucky to make my craisin purchase as this year’s fresh cranberries were sold out after last week’s Stone Lake Cranberry Fest.
The beauty and the bane of summer bounty are the kitchen hours required to transform a morning’s abundance into delicious treats. On blue sky, temperature-perfect days just made for hours of pleasure on my screened porch knitting the 4-Day Fireworks KAL sweater, I joined the women of ages past toiling in summer kitchens. Admittedly, my experience was far more pleasant as my work time was spent in air conditioned comfort with good tunes coming from surround sound. Some of the tasty delights will be eaten immediately and some will be stashed in our small deep freeze to be enjoyed on frigid winter days as a talisman against the cold and a sunny reminder that spring will come, even in the North Country.
My Sunday & Monday garden-to-kitchen yield:
Blueberry Sour Cream Muffins – two dozen regular-sized and 24 minis using a recipe shared by Betty D. from Older Mommy Still Yummy
Having returned from Eau Claire with a large bunch of tartness, tonight we will enjoy a freshly baked crisp, topped with newly mixed Crème fraîche and served with Rhubarb Daiquiris. Mom’s patch is overflowing with hefty stalks, so full my harvest went undetected. In contrast, our small cluster of thin stems barely able to support the large triangular leaves struggles. I suspect the ginormous root system of the neighbor’s black walnut to be the unhealthy culprit. While the tree is gone, the natural chemicals genetically designed to give this once deciduous giant an advantage, may still be contributing to unhealthy dirt. After all – who cannot grow rhubarb?
My chocolate chip cookies may not be the height of gourmet desserts but they have the right mix of buttery crunch, pecans and, of course, extra chips to be scrumptious. Best enjoyed on a day when falling leaves compete with spitting snow for air space.
The first of the season – Rhubarb Pecan Scones. A delicious blend of spring tartness and warm nuttiness. An easy to make breakfast treat from the Rhubarb Renaissance by Kim Ode published by the Minnesota Historical Society Press.