Saturday, July 13, 2013

Keeping Afloat

On Monday night, Toronto was hit with a severe and unforeseen thunderstorm.  Many people found themselves without electricity, stranded, or their homes flooded.  Cars were swept away in rushing water, people took shelter under the nearest roof, and emergency vehicles amassed in the quiet streets.

I was one of the lucky ones.  We ate a leisurely dinner at home while our baby slept through the storm.  She didn't even wake when the building's fire alarm shrieked intermittently for over an hour.  My parents were not so fortunate.  Their basement flooded with waist-high sewage water, floating furniture around like bumper cars in slow motion.  Their electricity and phone lines were restored the next day, but until now they have no hot water.  Most of the flood water has drained out, leaving an inch of thick black sludge that smells like gasoline.  Insurance, utility, and restoration companies are suddenly distant and unfriendly.  A lot of chaos over a mere few inches of rain.

Rewind to two weeks earlier.  An upstairs unit in my very close friend's apartment leaked air conditioner fluid down into her home, causing an immediate evacuation.  Fast forward to this morning.  A major fire burned down a corner grocery store in our neighborhood.  The sight of the charred remains was almost too much to bear.  Only a few days ago I was inside the shop, buying a bag of scallions.

It's funny how life can take such a sudden, sharp turn.  One small event can derail even the best laid plans.  When things turn upside down, we seek comfort in the people and things that we know we can rely on: family members, close friends, a favourite place, a familiar face.  We take them for granted, and yet they always give their support when you need them the most.  We are very blessed.

Sweet and Salty Oatmeal Cookies
Adapted from Bouchon Bakery by Thomas Keller and Sebastian Rouxel.
Makes 16 three-inch cookies.

These cookies are thick and generous.  They make great company on a rainy day, especially with a fat mug of warm milk and a wool blanket.  I am convinced that they would form the makings of a game-changing ice cream sandwich, though I haven't tried it out myself.  Though I did accidentally leave out the 1/4 cup of white sugar, which resulted in a not-too-sweet but still very noteworthy cookie that was more snack than treat.  Feel free to substitute the inclusions for your own favourite mix of dried fruit, nuts, seeds, and candy pieces.

1 cup (135 g) all-purpose flour
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1-1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt
2/3 cup (145 g) light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup (50 g) sugar
 2/3 cup (150 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups (155 g) old fashioned oats
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup mini pretzel twists, salted and broken into pieces
1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup whole peanuts, roasted and salted
one generous pinch of flaky salt, such as Maldon

Position oven racks to upper and lower third.  Preheat oven to 325°F.  Line two half baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, mix flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt.

In a large bowl, use a wooden spoon to beat the butter until fluffy and light.  Add both sugars and beat until light.  Mix in egg and vanilla until just combined.  Add in the flour mixture in two additions until just combined, being sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl between additions.  Mix in the oats, and then the coconut, pretzels, chocolate and peanuts, only just enough to bring it together.

Using a 1/4 cup measure, scoop out balls of dough and form them with your hands into a thick round patty.  At this point, if you don't want to bake the whole batch, you can place the formed disks on a lined baking sheet for an hour in the freezer, then double wrap them in plastic and store in the freezer for up to a month.  Thaw overnight in the fridge, and leave them out at room temperature for an hour before baking.

To bake, place the raw cookies on the lined baking sheets, spacing them at least two inches apart.  Sprinkle a thin pinch of flaky salt on top of each cookie.  Bake for 14 to 18 minutes, reversing the positions of the pans halfway through cooking.  The cookies will be ready when the edges are lightly browned.  Remove from oven, and cool for 15 minutes before carefully moving them to a rack to cool completely.  Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

No comments:

Post a Comment