I felt sure spring was coming because when I went to the Farmer’s Market this weekend I noticed the carrots had disappeared. True, there were Brussels sprouts, Swiss chard, and other winter vegetables that don’t hail from Europe. True, I saw nary a flutter of asparagus, or strawberries, or — that American peculiarity — ramps. But the bright piles of my favorite snacking vegetable were gone. “It’s a sign!” I told my husband.
It was not a sign.
Yesterday it snowed in Washington — snow! — and it’s the last week of March. This weather-seasonal disconnect calls to mind another post from my first weeks in this town, which documented 86 degrees in October. Though I’m more settled here now — an official cell phone owner with a full cabinet of Indian spices — this place still doesn’t really feel like home. Perhaps that’s because I know we’ll be moving again, sooner rather than later (my husband’s career as a diplomat transfers us often) — or maybe I just need to accept that DC is not my soulmate, as much as I appreciate its locavore salad bars, earnest plastic bag fees and independent bookstores.
So, there. I’ve finally got it off my chest: I have not yet fallen in love with my new town. (That’s okay, right?) I have, however, fallen in love with the health food store down the street. It has a funny patchouli smell, and packages of earnest-looking food, and bulk bins of nuts, grains and dried fruit. I know you’re probably thinking: she loves the bulk bins? But I do, I really do. I love how you can scoop out the exact quantity you need — a half cup of pine nuts, a cup of quinoa — no waste, no leftovers. This weekend, I eyeballed out a cup of walnuts and a half cup of dried cranberries. Then I went home and unearthed the bag of wheat germ leftover from this salad, and set about making my favorite cookies.
The recipe comes from Once Upon A Tart… (ellipses not my own), a Soho café I once frequented as an impoverished New York editorial assistant. Back then, splurging on a lunchtime sandwich or slice of quiche from Once Upon a Fart… (as I like to call it) felt like a celebration. And the giant cookies, oh, the cookies — those were reserved for very special occasions, like Saturday afternoons after my husband (at the time my, um, boyfriend?) got his hair cut and we would meet at the café to share one. I loved almost everything about those cookies — the bits of tart cranberry and chunks of chocolate, the marvelous airy, chewy-crunchy, oat-y texture. But I didn’t love the size. They were too big. I like having my own cookie.
When I left New York, a friend gave me a wonderful present: Once Upon A Tart…’s cookbook. Over the years, I’ve adapted the carrot-chick pea salad and ginger peanut sauce into kitchen staples, but for some reason I’ve only made My Favorite Cookie once before (mainly because it calls for dried cranberries and wheat germ, both rather particular ingredients). But this weekend, when I saw the array of dried fruit in the bulk bin and remembered the nearly-full bag of wheat germ in my cupboard, I knew what to do. The cookies turned out just the way I remembered, satisfyingly chewy and crunchy at the same time, thanks to the wheat germ. (They burn in a flash, however, so be careful not to singe a batch like I did.) Best of all, I made them in my favorite size — small enough so you can eat them two at a time.
Cranberry-chocolate chip oatmeal cookies
Adapted from Once Upon a Tart…’s Cookbook
Makes 5 dozen cookies
“A great way to tell if cookies are done is to lift one up with a metal spatula,” the book says. “If it’s brown underneath, it’s done.” I wish I’d followed this advice.
2 sticks butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup wheat germ
3 cups rolled oats
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
With a hand mixer, cream the butter and sugars together until combined. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and the vanilla.
To the wet ingredients, add the flour, wheat germ, oats, baking powder, baking soda and salt, mixing them in a bit at a time. With a wooden spoon, stir in the chocolate chips, cranberries and nuts.
Drop 2-inch scoops of cookie dough onto a baking sheet, about 2 inches apart. (The dough spreads quite a bit.) Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the cookies are golden brown all over, and on the bottom. Don’t undercook, as they’re better crunchy. Don’t overcook, as we’ve discussed. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.