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cookies

Gluten Free Peach Shortbread and Cookies

Gluten Free Peach Shortbread and Cookies

I have been rather infrequent in my posting this last month. That has been largely due to the gap between what I had expected/hoped/planned for and what really is my everyday schedule. Oh well! If you are interested, there are details in the post. If not, simply scroll down to get the recipe for a great versatile gluten free shortbread...

Albeit it is the Peach Shortbread, but really it is the multipurpose gluten free recipe for the shortbread that makes a great coffee cake as well as tea cookies! This one is a keeper, I promise!!

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Where there are flowers...

Oatmeal Walnut Raisin Chocolate Cookies

Good Morning! Happy Monday! :)

So what is on my plate today.

Oatmeal Walnut Raisin Chocolate Cookies

there are

AMAZING!

If I say so myself, this one is a keeper.

Chewy, dense, salty and sweet, lots of raisins, nuts and chocolate, really thick oats. On the oats, I just switched from the regular Quaker rolled oats to Bob's Red Mill organic thick oats and I am loving the latter. They stand up so much better in baking and make for satisfying crunch in granola. I suspect they are the reason for the elevation of the humble oatmeal cookie achieved in this recipe. Instead of melting away and making for a wistful presence, the thick oats stand bold and proud. There is no way you can ignore them. And, once you have noticed their existence, you suddenly realize that you respect them and then, it is all over.

You reach for the second cookie, unconsciously and are surprised to see it in your hand.

I also wanted to share some surprising facts I dug up about flowers, post a conversation with a New York flower farmer at the market last week. If you are not interested in this part and just want the recipe, scroll down to the end of the post (or click on recipe link below)

Organic roses from New York

Last Friday, I made a visit to the Union Square Green Market after, oh, several months. Most of my favorite stands were there and I stopped by them to have a chat and pick some of their finest and freshest. I stopped to say hello to my favorite flower farmer, Mike, who sells the most gorgeous roses year round. Mike was in a mood alright, and, as farmers are apt to do when they find an empathetic ear, he vented about the unfairness of corporate powers. I agree with him in principle. So, I was also sympathetic.

Rant aside, I did learn something. That North East New York used to be a bed of organic flower farms, especially roses. That this region's land is incredibly fertile and supports the growth of astonishingly beautiful flowers. That all but his farm have now closed down because they could not compete with the cheap roses flown all the way from South America. That after him, his farm will close too, as the inheritance taxes combined with declining flower sales do not make farming sustainable for his sons. It is saddening!

"

To limit coca farming and expand job opportunities in Colombia, the U.S. government in 1991 suspended import duties on Colombian flowers. The results were dramatic, though disastrous for U.S. growers. In 1971, the United States produced 1.2 billion blooms of the major flowers (roses, carnations and chrysanthemums) and imported only 100 million. By 2003, the trade balance had reversed; the United States imported two billion major blooms and grew only 200 million.

" - Smithsonian

Oatmeal Walnut Raisin Chocolate Cookies

Literally every corner shop near me has flowers to sell. Until now, I never quite questioned where they came from. My assumption all along being such delicate beings cannot possibly be airlifted and flown across several thousand miles to reach my corner deli. Oh! How I was wrong! Much like food, these delicate creations of nature which for the large periods of human civilization remained a gardner's pride and relish is now a multi-BILLION dollar industry!

According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), consumers in the U.S. consumed $34.3 billion in floral products in 2012. SAF estimates that value of cut flower sales to be around $7.5 Bn. 64% of the sales are of imported flowers with 95% of the imports coming from South and Central America (Columbia, Equador and Mexico). California accounts for 76% of domestic flower production. And, New York ranks nowhere of consequence.

Note that I say "production" and not farming or growing. That is because this is an industry of enormous scale. California alone accounted for $7.6 Bn of sales in 2012!

Stealing a cookie
Taking a bite out of the cookie

One has to wonder how is it possible to ship flowers across such long distances without bruising them? Well, Mike gave me a clue and I did some further research. Roses cut from the plant have a life span of 5 to 10 days. Once cut from the plant, the inability to photosynthesize nutrients needed for life rapidly depletes the stored food in the stem and leaves, and, the flower wilts. Water can arrest this process but only cold temperatures can keep them going for weeks. To keep them fresh for longer and for long distance travel, “cold chains”—refrigerated warehouses and trucks every point along transit keep the flowers in suspended animation; flash frozen and sprayed with pesticides and inert gases. In this way, floral life is extended by several days.

I am simply boggled. While there is a push on being a locavore for food, the other industries linked to farming also seem to be suffering a similar fate and demise from industrialized processes.

Oatmeal Cookies to cool
Oatmeal Cookies
Oatmeal Cookies Cooling

From my experience, I can definitely vouch for the quality of Mike's flowers being superior than any I have seen in a deli. They are shaped beautifully, non-uniformly and look like roses and haven't been sprayed with chemicals. Yet, he is asked several times, why his flowers are expensive. Notwithstanding the inherent lack of understanding of the farming process or empathy to the effort involved, I have to ask, how is it expensive?

I agree flowers in your deli may be cheap per rose, but what is the real price of those dozen roses? On a normal day, a dozen roses here can cost between $12-%15 increasing unto $25 for occasions and Holidays such as Valentine's, Mother's Day etc. Mike charges $10 for half dozen of his brilliantly hued, non-pesticide, non-chemical blooms that were picked the evening work and the prices do not vary by occasion or day.

Do we need twice the amount of roses? Are 6 more roses going to add incremental happiness? Isn't it better to have fewer yet beautiful and virtuous flowers to cherish and enjoy? Not to mention, the gazillions of money spent on fuel and logistics for shipping those roses grown on far away farms with working conditions far below international standards, including child labor.

Perhaps, I am asking existential questions here, but, I would like to hear your thoughts. Here is a great article on the US flower business and its ties with foreign lands.


Oatmeal Walnut Raisin Chocolate Cookies

Oatmeal Walnut Raisin Chocolate Cookies

125 g thick rolled oats

90 g whole wheat flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

100 g raw sugar, pulverised fine

120 g butter, room temperature

1 tsp sea salt

1 egg, room temperature

1-1/2 tsp vanilla essence

handful of chopped walnuts

handful of black raisins

handful of chopped dark chocolate

 

Process the butter and sugar to be light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and pulse to a smooth mixture. If the mixture seems curdled, it means the egg and butter were not at room temperature and one slightly colder. It's ok, just continue using the mixture.

Sift together the flour, soda and salt. Add the oats, nuts and raisins and chocolate and toss. Add the wet mixture to the dry and knead to incorporate.

Wrap in cling wrap and refrigerate for about 15 minutes. This will allow the fats to solidify and bloom while baking creating that lift in the center.

While the dough is cooling, preheat oven to 350F.

Using a 1/4 cup measure, place dough in rounds on a baking tray lined with parchment paper about two inches apart.

Bake for 10-12 minutes until the edges are browning and the cookie has flattened out a bit.

Remove from oven and let it stand for 5 minutes undisturbed. The cookies will be extremely soft, so desist urge to pick them up as soon as they are out of the oven.

Gently transfer the cookies to a cooling rack for 10 minutes, to cool down and harden enough to handle.


Me time .... and Oat biscuits

I am a dreamer.

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I have a permanent second channel in my

mind pursuing some form of fantasy

... Often times, this channel is tuned firmly on food and the food related. At others, it is day dreaming about exotic places that I make very elaborate mental plans to visit replete with detailed notes. Oh and some times, it does descend into a mild form of neurosis on any number of topics ranging from the sad state of big name driven food monopolies to the impact (or really lack of) of a spineless democracy on my immediate life.

At many times, this second channel bullies itself into my primary zone of cognizance and entirely overruns the whole cortex of my brain. This is when, in a surrealistic trance, I find myself spending hours pouring over many, many sites researching in minute detail and being restlessly inspired. After that, I will have bleary eyes, a parched throat and jittery fingers but a very actionable list of to-dos and resolutions on a certain subject.

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Then, rejuvenated yet weary, I will hobble into the kitchen to make myself some

strong coffee with a side of digestive biscuits

, come back and sit at my table by the window to

ponder more certainly on something else

. I love that little ritual.

That brief

space of time to myself

when I abashedly surrender to my fantasies and world-changing ideas or just a bit of internal vision leading upto a major (or minor!) breakthrough or just settling in peace with everything around me and being happy with life!

The point of this long prelude is, yesterday, I bounded into the kitchen looking forward to this me-time and lo behold! what do I find? No biscuits! My world came crashing down! I was loth to trudge the few blocks to Fairway to pick some up and suddenly inspired by the scores of blogs I had been browsing prior, I decided to...

make my own biscuits

!

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Well, what I, eventually, baked were

far more decadent and worthy of dessert cookies

but nevertheless made for a rich afternoon experience and deservedly so! These cookie-biscuits are perfect dunked or crunched or just taken a deep bite off. Oh! I find they are also splendid to accompany a riveting episode of

Downton Abbey

, which, is my latest viewing obsession! I just began season 3 and I find myself squirreling away time and extending lunch hours to accommodate just a little more of the Crawleys (especially

Matthew Crawley

).

Ok! I just found out the sickening twist of season 3 (thanks to google! :() I think I am going to give up on the entire series! :(( Bawwl! Not fair! Totally rankling the dreamy bit in me.... That's all I have to say! Sighhhh

Oat Biscuits

[adapted from

BBC Good Food

]

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75g old fashioned oats, as finely ground as you can

75g spelt flour

75g raw sugar

75g organic butter, room temperature

1 tsp baking powder

1 T golden syrup

1 T warm whole milk

Whip the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Heat the syrup with the milk to thin it a bit and add to the butter. Fold in the flour, oats and baking powder. If the mixture is too crumbly, add flour a teaspoon at a time until it comes together to form a log. Wrap in cling wrap and refrigerate for 20 or so minutes to set and cool.

Slice the log into quarter inch thick pieces and lay them on a prepared pan. Just press each slice to flatten and shape appropriately.

Bake at 350 F for 15 minutes until golden brown on top and the smell of brown butter wafts through the house. Cool for a few minutes and then eat. The cooling bit is important as the cookies will still be soft and delicate when they come out of the oven. They harden as they cool.

Of expectations... failing... and living...

Spelt Croissants grey
I am Asha. A blogger, a foodie, a photographer, a writer.. oh so many things... But really, I am a girl who wants life, love and happiness... Nothing more, nothing less...

I rarely speak about myself in public, here or elsewhere. People think I am a closed person. I think you don't know. I think I don't know.. But I want to...

Growing up in India is simple, yet very complex. In a land that excels in "behind closed doors" and "within four walls" a lot happens, a lot felt, yet little seen or shown.

Tea and Cookies

A land of billions is a land of many hopes, more expectations and perhaps, a lot of failures. Those are the lucky ones. There are some who don't fail, are not allowed to fail, cannot feel failure..

A collage of achievements is how I described myself. A poster child for my family.. Good grades, best schools, top universities, nothing shy of reaching for the stars.. and I did... As did a lot of kids along with me.. We were pushed, prodded and encouraged in one direction and one alone.. academic superlative-ness guaranteeing a good life

Uni-dimensional, repressed, silent for fear of offending... Afraid of failure...

Spelt Croissants (color)

Yet, how can you live if you don't fail. If you never tripped and fell, you never know how to pick yourself up, take another step and reach higher... A lesson preferably learned sooner than later. But not all of us are that lucky. But, learn we do because life is not singular in any respect...

And, that's what makes it worth living!! Finding oneself and finding happiness when the mask slips... So, I am try! :))

Fennel Anzac Cookies

The only link to these rambles to today's recipe is my experimenting with spelt flour and attempts to make croissants with them. It failed horribly but I am ok. Because really the croissants became like cookies, crumbly and nutty in flavor (spelt is a nuttier grain). Then the Anzac ones happened and later, I found an even better use for the "croissant" dough and learned something that will make spelt flakier without adding gluten.




Fennel and Spelt Anzac Cookies
(adapted from here)

3/4 cup spelt flour
1/2 cup oat flour (ground oats)
1/2 cup old fashioned oats
2 T fennel seeds
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut
3 T unsalted butter, melted and hot
1/2 tsp baking soda
6 T boiling water

Preheat oven to 350°F. Sift together the flours, sugar and salt. Mix in the coconut, fennel seeds and oats. Place the butter and the golden syrup (I used corn syrup) in a medium saucepan over medium heat and stir until melted. In a small bowl, add the baking soda to the boiling water. Stir the baking soda mixture into the melted butter mixture and stir to combine.

Mix the wet with the dry ingredients until it forms a sticky dough. Using a scoop, roll out balls of the dough and place on a baking sheet, 2.5 inches apart. Flatten each ball with your palm. until most of the dry mix is incorporated and moist.

Bake the cookies for 15 minutes or until they turn golden brown. Cool on rack and serve warm with tea!

Snow.... and Cookies

Peanut Butter Chocolate Crinkle Cookies



Chocolate Peanut Butter Crinkles... I think they encapsulate life. Light, dark and the cracks that both join and divide! Quakes in life cause fissures, which, test you for sure, but can also make you stronger. Where you come out is, perhaps, dependent on your outlook and your perceptions but the choice exists?

Btw, it snowed. This Saturday. It was beautiful. I watched the light, mesmerizing snow flakes dancing their way down to slowly, ever so slowly, building their white castles and carpeting everything they touched in a shroud of virginity.


photo(2)



Boots in snow



Snow-Cookies



Cozily ensconced inside my toasty warm house, with a cup of steaming milk, cookies and multiple episodes of Big Bang theory was the best Saturday afternoon spent. Having leftover spicy Chinese food as a ready meal also helped .. :)


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icicles off a shop awning



It wasn't a dump but it was enough for people to cross country ski in the Park. Sunday evening and it was still all pristinely white in the Park. I went for a run. I was surprised by the snow on the ground. It was packed. It was an experience running on it. Very tiring and exhilarating at the same time. I recommend it. It's ofcourse a great work out!


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I think calling these Snow Cookies is apt!



Peanut Butter Chocolate Crinkles
(adapted from Martha Stewart)

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa (preferrably Dutch processed)
2 tsps baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
8 oz bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1-1/2 cups light brown sugar
2 eggs
1/3 cup whole milk
2 T peanut butter

For rolling:
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup powdered sugar

peanut butter choc cookies1


Sift together the dry ingredients. Beat the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg one at a time and beat to incorporate. Add the peanut butter and molten chocolate.

Fold in half the dry mixture followed by half the milk and repeat. Chill dough for a couple of hours until firm to touch. You can store this dough overnight.

When ready to bake, pre heat the oven to 350F. Pinch 1 tablespoon sized pieces of dough and roll into balls. Coat each ball generously in the granulated sugar and then in powdered sugar and place on baking tray about 1.5 inches apart.

Bake cookies until the top is cracked, about 12 minutes. Cool on rack completely. They can be stored at room temperature in an air tight container for upto three days but you'll be surprised if they are not inhaled in utmost two! :)
MADE A RECIPE FROM THE BLOG?

Share your creations tagging @ashafsk on Instagram and hashtag #MadeFromFSK