I’m getting ready to head down to St. Simons Island for three days of southern cuisine and hospitality. I’ll be sharing my adventures here, on my facebook page and on twitter so stay tuned. I’m looking forward to meeting some of Georgia’s best growers and producers and learning all about Georgia olives(who knew?!), honey, peaches, pecans, shrimp, spirits and more.
Before I get on the road, I wanted to share these cookies with you all. I made them first for a bake sale fund raiser last weekend, and then again yesterday with the residual carrots I had left from making my youngest son’s 2nd birthday cake. I’m planning to take some on the road today for sustenance (because who couldn’t use a little cream cheese frosting to keep them going?).
If you like carrot cake, then you’ll love these cookies – they’re kind of a cross between my favorite oatmeal cookie, carrot cake and a whoopie pie. What’s not to love? I was inspired by this recipe from Martha Stewart, but I adapted it to suit my taste, adding some baking soda and powder for leavening, and grating in some fresh ginger instead of dried (fresh is always better in my opinion, especially in recipes where the added moisture won’t affect the outcome).
Carrot Cake Cookies
prep time: 10 minutes
bake time: 12 minutes
yields: 20 sandwich cookies
1 cup rolled oats
1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup carrots
1 stick butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1/2 cup raisins
Preheat your oven to 350F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper
Whisk together your oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt
Cream together the butter and sugars
Add the egg and mix to incorporate
Add the ginger and the carrots
Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients
Fold in the raisins
Drop teaspoon-full sized rounds onto prepared cookie sheets, 1 inch apart
Flatten with your hand
Bake for 10-12 minutes in a 350F oven
Allow to cool on a rack
Spread 1/2 a teaspoon of cream cheese frosting on one cookie and place a second cookie on top to make a sandwich
A week or so ago, I posted something to this blog’s Facebook page about trying a recipe, and hoping it wasn’t a total disaster. My cousin commented almost immediately, saying that she doubted anything I ever made was a total disaster. While flattered, I laughed out loud when I read the comment – if she only knew how many miserable failures I’ve had in the kitchen (and elsewhere). Some of them to the point that they’re completely inedible. I just don’t write about the failures. Maybe I should.
I think if you love to cook, you can’t be afraid to fail. There’s always going to be that one batch of cookies that you burn, or that jelly that didn’t set or the bread dough that just didn’t rise for whatever reason. The important thing is that you try to learn from those mistakes and move on. Sure, sometimes it can be painful to your ego (and to your wallet, in some cases), but it’s not the end of the world. I’ve curdled a dozen egg yolks making custard, and had an equal number of egg whites that never whipped to stiff peaks. I’ve turned multiple batches of failed sourdough bread into sourdough breadcrumbs. I’ve tossed out a stockpot that had sugar burned so badly on the bottom that it was irreparably damaged. Believe me – I’ve had plenty of disasters in the kitchen. Sometimes they push me to try harder, and sometimes they make me take a step back and reevaluate whether I really have the time and the inclination to babysit a sourdough starter.
The answer to the second question, by the way, is no. At least not right now.
Yesterday was one of those days. You know the ones – where nothing seems to go quite the way you’d planned? I woke up thinking that I’d do some grocery shopping, wash some clothes and maybe make some granola bars to send to school as snacks for the boys. A productive day – that’s all I’d really hoped for. And it’s not that it wasn’t productive, it was just not the kind of productive I’d planned on.
You see, rather than running my grocery errands and washing the umpteen piles of laundry that are currently carpeting my laundry room floor, I spent half the day yesterday driving 100 miles round-trip to procure these lovely Barred Rock and Ameraucana hens. We started our backyard flock back in April. Three Rhode Island Red hens, which my oldest son promptly named Sally, Tweety and Fred. Since then, the trio has dwindled to a lonesome single Sally – Fred was felled by a Black widow spider, and Tweety we lost to an unknown predator just a couple of days ago. While we know that these are just some of the perils that come with raising livestock, it’s still a sad affair when you’re faced with the loss of an animal. Poor Sally seemed a little lost without her flockmates, and we’d been thinking of expanding our numbers anyway, so I felt justified in postponing my chores for a bit so that we could do just that.
Once we got back home, got the chickens’ wings clipped and transferred them safely to the coop to get acclimated, I decided to move on to making granola bars. I had placed some apple chunks in the dehydrator before we left for our chicken wrangling adventure, and they were nice and leathery upon our return.
I had attempted granola bars earlier in the week, based on this recipe from Smitten Kitchen. They were good, but they didn’t really ever set up the way I expected them too. First, they burned and stuck on the edges; and, second, they were too soft at room temperature to maintain their bar shape. I’m not sure if its my error (probably) or a flaw in the recipe (probably not – Deb’s pretty much a genius, plus she tests her recipes carefully), but I wanted to start over from scratch to try and get something that was more bar-like and less really thick oatmeal-like.
I used a combination of rolled oats, wheat germ, dried apples, raisins, unsweetened flake coconut, sucanat, agave nectar and coconut oil. I sprayed my pan liberally with oil. I only baked them for about 15 minutes.
And they were a disaster. A complete and utter failure. At least as far as granola bars go.
As granola, though? A total success (well, except for the part that was so baked on the pan I couldn’t get it off without soaking it in hot water for an hour or so). With a little almond milk, it makes a delicious breakfast cereal.
So despite the fact, that nothing that I initially intended to get done yesterday actually got accomplished, I wound up with some beautiful new chickens, and some delicious granola. I won’t bother sharing the ratios I used, since I really was trying for something completely different from what I ended up with. However, once I do figure out the perfect granola bar recipe, I’ll be sure to pass it along to all of you. In the meantime, don’t be afraid to try and fail in the kitchen- it’s better than never trying to cook at all (or something like that).
Oh, and those new chickens? My oldest son ran right out to the coop when he got off the bus and promptly named them: Spot, Dot, Tweety, Jr. and Fred, Jr. He’s nothing if not original.
In case you’re just really jonesing for some homemade granola bars, here are a few recipes that seem promising: