Friday, March 7, 2008

Cycling Goodies & Cookie lessons

One of the traditions in the Division over the past year has been an “employee appreciation” meeting, where the supervisors prepare and bring in some sort of treat for a Division-wide snack party. This tries to build on the old quarterly potlucks and especially the monthly get-togethers that we had in the old Inactive Sites Branch… It’s having mixed success, but it certainly has nothing to complain about on the quality of the various goodies brought to the conference table.

The last one was back around the first of September, when I was freshly back from the Hotter ‘N Hell Hundred, and pretty fired up about cycling in general. Cyclists and bananas go well together, and the theme was “cheesecakes”… so I came up with a recipe for banana cheesecake, with a gingersnap crust, since I was too lazy to separate and split that many Oreo cookies for a chocolate crust… no matter how eager Sam was to help me lick the filling off the cookie pieces.

This quarter’s theme was “cookies.” I’m not a cookie person at all, but I do like oatmeal cookies, especially the chewy kind. And that being said, I'm not too bad in the kitchen (with the many years of bachelorhood, I haven't missed too many meals), but I'm not much on baking, or actually making cookies. But the quarterly Division snack parties are a throwdown between the Chief and us branch managers, so it was time to learn... With the help of our branch’s resident sous chef, I combined two or three different recipes to blend fruit (also good for cyclists) into an oatmeal cookie.

The results, all made from scratch, were pretty darned good. I have always claimed I don’t like cookies, but I really like these things. The result is very much like a Clif Bar, and a whole lot more tasty:

Banana Chocolate Chip Oatmeal cookies


(wet) 1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
2 eggs
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

(dry) 4 cups quick-cook oatmeal
1 cup flour
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

6 to 8 ripe bananas
1 bag chocolate chips (or chocolate chunks)

Melt the butter, and whisk in the sugar, honey, eggs, vanilla extract and water until you have a smooth, homogeneous syrup.

While the butter is melting, mash/puree the bananas.

Add the dry ingredients to a large mixing bowl, add the wet ingredients and stir until blended. Add the bananas and chocolate chips, and stir some more, until well blended.

Allow the batter to chill in the refrigerator for about an hour or so.

Drop by rounded tablespoon onto a greased cookie sheet, and bake at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes.

Version 2 of the recipe (the banana oatmeal bars are all consumed save for three put away for tomorrow’s ride) is resting in the refrigerator to set and let the flavors soak in a bit… I substituted a bag of blackberries for the bananas (Kroger was out of raspberries, my initial idea & intent). Run thru a blender – since the pureed fruit helps out with putting some liquid in the batter, making it a soft, chewy cookie/bar -- the batter is nearly blood red and undoubtedly would be good for Christmas recipes, or maybe pairing with a blueberry batter for the patriotic summer holidays coming up…

The blackberry version is history, too... I like the banana ones a little better, but the blackberry ones got rave comments too. Think I'll watch the fruit section, and try a raspberry version next...

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