"Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not" ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
There was a time in my life when I loved to travel. The packing, the planning, the excitement and the idea of journeying to far away lands thrilled me to no end. It all seemed glamorous, fun and interesting. How times have changed.
"You want me to pay extra so there's room for my legs?" "Is this bottle of liquid too large to carry on the plane?" "Be sure to wear the slip on shoes and to take off your belt so you don't set off the alarm." "How do I get this camera equipment through without them losing it or destroying it?" "I'm losing how much to convert dollars to Euros?"
It's not uncommon for New Englanders to take mid-winter vacations. The need to escape typically climaxes in February as the frigid temperatures and long, dark days take a toll on even the most well-adjusted among us. Because of this, I rank myself among those in need of an annual winter get away. Every year I pull out the travel guides. Every year I read the Trip Advisor reviews. Year after year I'm increasingly mortified by the cost and how little we can get for our money.
This year we decided to do something different. We sat down and calculated the cost of vacation, cut the total in half and decided to spend the money on making our own home more luxurious and cozy.
So far we've upgraded our bed linens and bought fluffy comforters, robes, slippers from the Matouk and Anichini outlet stores here in New England. We're visiting local antique stores here and here, consignment shops and Craigslist so we can create a library in our home office. We're busy framing, painting and decorating so we can turn our spare bedroom into a music room. We're making lists of movies we want to see, developing our own at home cooking/ baking immersion courses and building our music collection by sourcing our materials at the local library. Soon we'll be making lists of museums we want to visit and restaurants we have yet to try. Surprisingly, we've done quite a bit and have only made a small dent in our tropical vacation fund.
I am aware that this process will not bring us sunshine and 80 degree weather. But for us, it's been much more fun than planning a vacation and hopefully the rewards will last longer. At the very least, we can curl up with a cup of hot chocolate and a few of these sensational cookies. I know for sure that I won't get dessert this good at a resort.
So what about you? How are you feeling about travel these days and what are your vacation plans this winter?
Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Cookies with Coconut and Sweetened Dried Cherries
230 g (1 c) butter, room temperature
195 g (1c) sugar
75 g (1/2 c) light brown sugar
75 g (1/2 c) coconut palm sugar (you can substitute brown sugar)
2 large eggs
16 g (1 tbs) milk
4 g (1 tsp) vanilla extract
2 g (1/2 tsp) cherry extract (you can substitute vanilla extract)
1 g (1 tsp) Kirsch (cherry flavored liquor)
290 g (3 c) oats
175 g (1-1/4 c) all purpose flour
8 g (1 tbs) teff flour (you can substitute all purpose flour)
6 g (1-1/4) baking soda
4 g (1-1/2 tsp) cinnamon
1 g (1/4 tsp) nutmeg
< 1 g (1/8 tsp) cloves
2 g (1/2 tsp) mace
85 g (1 c) dried, sweetened coconut
360 g (12 oz.) good quality dark chocolate, chopped
85 g. (3/4 c) dried cherries
Preheat oven to 350 degrees (177 Celsius). Marinate the dried cherries in the Kirsch while you make the recipe.
Combine the sugars and butter in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Cream until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the milk, vanilla extract, cherry extract and eggs. Combine. Add the oatmeal and stir on low speed until combined.
Sift together the flours, baking soda and spices. Mix into oatmeal mixture. Stir in coconut, chocolate and cherries until evenly distributed. The batter will be very thick.
Form patties of about 1-1/2 tbs of dough. Bake for approximately 10-12 minutes, depending upon your oven.
Makes about 30 two inch (5 cm) cookies.