Since Wednesday night, when I realized my hot date with the politically inclined folks in the neighborhood is this Saturday, I’ve been cramming for the caucus. Cramming, because I’m not usually part of that group, and as of this moment, I’m still not sure who I’ll stand up for.
I’ll admit, I’ve never thought this much about an election. Maybe it’s the war. Maybe it’s that my sister will vote in November (or, she’d better), when she’s finally old enough to hit the polls. Or maybe it’s just that I’m no longer (quite as) blissfully ignorant of my political surroundings. In any case, I suddenly seem to have a lot to learn before tomorrow.
My dad always told us that studying requires two things: milk, cookies, and two hours. He usually made his case when there was a math test involved, but I think it applies to any decent decision-making process.
My two hours started last weekend, when my mom called. She’d been selected to escort Obama at a pre-caucus rally in Idaho, where the ol’ “Where’s the Democratic caucus this year?” question no longer ends with some joke about a phone booth. She was crazed, bit hard by the Obama bug. Tonight a friend who works for Hillary is calling, and I’ve got some thinking to do. Probably more than two hours’ worth. (I guess that doesn’t leave much room for you to wonder about my party lines, does it?)
A reader recently wrote:
What does Obama eat? Don’t you ever wonder? He’s so thin, looks so in shape. He can’t be spending much time working out. Maybe he does one of those “get yourself in shape in 15 minutes” programs. But he must eat on the healthy side. Or maybe he just picks when he goes to those $1,000 a plate dinners. Or was it $25,000? Hillary no doubt does more than pick and Bill is, shall we say, in kind of a pickle with his heart condition. McCain is probably on doctors’ orders and do we even care what Romney and Huckabee eat? I wonder how much imported food ol G.W. eats.
Ouch. But maybe it would be easier, voting by meal plan. The New York Times would read Hillary Caught Wolfing Fries at McDonald’s Between Campaign Stops, and my decision would be made.
Or maybe it would just prove how judgmental I am about what people eat. The very people I commend for their appreciation of diversity might lose out on a vote because they don’t eat like I do.
Anyway, it’s time we get down to business, me and this plate of cookies.
They’re thoughtful, these chewy rounds: Each has its own level of gingery bite, its own unique distribution of the whole grain blend of cornmeal, flax, millet, and quinoa I’ve come to rely on when I want my baked goods to pack a bit more nutritional punch. They’re based on Kathy’s recipe for Fig & Ginger Cookies, a perennial favorite in our house.
When I’m standing in line in Seattle on Saturday, and she’s doing the same in Maine, I’ll call her.
“Who are you voting for?” I’ll ask.
If you start with one of my favorite recipes from one of my favorite cookbooks – a book called Favorites, no less –it’s hard to come up with a cookie that’s anything but a favorite. Based on Kathy Gunst’s recipe for Oatmeal Fig & Ginger cookies, this is a cardamom-kissed cookie with crunch and whole grain chew, just the kind to roll around in your mouth with a glass of milk (over and over again, if you’re doing it right) while your brain is working out something important.
If you prefer to leave the whole grains out, substitute 1/2 cup more oatmeal for the cornmeal, flaxseed meal, millet, and quinoa.
TIME: 30 minutes active time
MAKES: 30 cookies
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cardamom
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 tablespoons each cornmeal, flaxseed meal, millet, and quinoa
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups old-fashioned oats
10 dried peach or nectarine halves, chopped into small chunks (about 1 cup)
3/4 cup chopped crystallized ginger, tossed with 1 tablespoon flour to prevent sticking
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicon baking mats and set side.
Whisk the dry ingredients (through quinoa) to blend in a mixing bowl, and set aside. In the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter with both sugars until light, about 3 minutes on medium speed. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl between additions, then stir in the vanilla. Add the oats, fruit, and ginger, and mix on low to blend.
Scoop dough into 1 1/2” balls and place 2” apart on baking sheets. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, rotating baking sheets halfway through baking, until cookies are golden at the edges. Let cool five minutes on baking sheets, then transfer to racks to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough.