Saturday, May 8, 2010
Another crazy week. I guess it's that time of the year when the weather gets little warmer and suddenly, my winter-worm apathetic adolescent minds start blooming. It's great; I'm not complaining, but it sure makes for a long work week. Don't get me wrong; I wouldn't trade my job for any other. It's much too satisfying to give up, but I will say that the last 2 months of the school year is definitely more hectic than the first two. Who would have thought? You'd think they'd be winding down by now, but not my students. They're full of ideas, inspiration and needing every ounce of teacher support they can get. And I'm happy to give it to them, especially when it involves baking.
You see, our graduating class is trying to raise funds for their final graduation party, and what better way then through a bake sale? Yup, earlier this week I had two little darlings knocking on my door asking me to bake something for the sale that would happen after the spring concert. Oh, and would I mind supervising as well? Of course not. Two batches of baked goods later (a version of this fruity muffin, and this delicious crumb cake courtesy of Everybody Likes Sandwiches) and I was standing outside the school gymnasium at 8:00pm trying to keep the crowd from overwhelming my students. That was Thursday night. Was Friday any less hectic?
Let me explain. A group of artistically inclined students had the idea of sell origami rose bouquets for Mother's Day. Enter: hectic Friday afternoon poking skewer sticks through intricately folded rose flowers, sorting through last-minute orders (oh yeah, these girls meant business!) and running around the school delivering them. Couple that with senior dance supervision (Hands to yourself! Stop running! No, you CAN'T go to the bathroom AGAIN!), a meeting at the bank, and it's a wonder I even remembered Mother's Day. Mother's Day for us has been different these past few years. You see, as mentioned before, my parents are off gallivanting in Asia on their annual trip, and my Mom will probably be tucking into a steaming bowl of phở and sipping Vietnamese coffee in Hanoi on Mother's Day. And my Grandma? She'll be coming over tomorrow to see our new place for the first time and enjoying a little lunch with my sister and I. So Mother's Day is no sweat, right? Almost. There is one mother that I was thinking of -- a mother that I've never actually meant, but hope to in the near future. My partner's mom. Like any mother-son relationship, theirs has had their share of ups and downs. To add to the "ups," I that I'd help put together a little package to send to her. I bought a little bouquet of those beautiful origami roses, plus a tiny pocket to lucky stars (also painstakingly handmade by my students) to send in the mail along with some cookies.
Oh how I love giving the gift of cookies. I first started, I think, by baking cookies as a family gift to my best friend's family at Christmas. One year, to re-connect with a former music teacher whom I write to, I baked peanut butter cookies and left them in her mailbox as a surprise. Now a-days, baking a batch of cookies as a gift is not uncommon for me. But making cookies to send in the mail is a different story. Although I'm a huge fan of those delicate, rich cookies that crumble sometimes on their way from your hand to your mouth, I needed a sturdy cookie that wouldn't get damaged during shipping, and would be just as tasty a couple days after baking. For this, I turned to oatmeal. There's something about it when you add it to a cookie batter that not only gives it extra nutrition and texture, but makes it nice and hardy: the kind of cookie that you could serve to guests straight from your cookie jar a week after you've baked them. I thought about it for awhile and came up with a recipe that's a cross between this one from Everybody Likes Sandwiches, and one from my favourite cookie cook book. It's got chocolate chips, walnuts, a good dose of maple syrup and of course, the saving grace, oatmeal. The texture is a cross between crumbly and chewy -- perfect with a tall glass of milk, a cup of tea or a (third) cup of coffee (yes, I had three coffees on Friday .. ). I'm about to send off the package, so I hope when they get there (better late than never!) they're well received. Happy Mother's Day!
Travelling Oatmeal Chocolate Maple Walnut Cookies (yeah .. I'm working on the names..)
(inspired by Everybody Likes Sandwiches, and "Cookies" (p. 241) by Catherine Atkinson, Joanna Farrow and Valerie Barrett.)
1/2 cup of butter at room temperature
1/4 cup of brown sugar
1/4 cup of pure maple syrup
a splash of almond extract
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 cup of oats
1 1/4 cup of all purpose flour
1/2 cup of chopped walnuts
1/2 cup of chocolate chips
1. Cream the butter and sugar until evenly mixed. Beat in the maple syrup, egg and almond extract.
2. Stir in the baking soda, oats and flour. Add the chocolate chips and walnuts and give it one final stir.
3. Drop teaspoon fulls of the dough onto a cookie sheet and bake at 350 until golden brown on top (about 15 minutes).