See that sun? Ok. You can't see the actual sun. But do you see all that daylight? See that blue sky? See that dust in the road, poking out from the ice cover and just waiting to thaw out into mud?
Oh, yes, it is Spring!
The geese and ducks aren't here yet. That's how Spring arrived last year. But there are some signs in the grocery store of the asparagus and strawberries that are stirring up such Spring restlessness down in the Lower 48. And, oh to my glee, there is sun. Direct. Strong. Long. Daylight for over 11 hours a day. Jubilation!
So, the sun is here, but my boyfriend is not. He is working out-of-town. Travel out here is less predictable. Weather could change. Flights could suddenly be full. Or mysteriously cancelled. Or sometimes so late, that it just kind of blends into the next regularly scheduled flight. You don't know if he'll be stuck at an airport. Or if the restaurants in this out-of-town town, if any, will be closed when he gets there. You don't know if he'll be too tired to find them. So I try to pack him food when he goes on these trips. (Ok. I'll be honest. I look for any opportunity to try out a new recipe. But so it goes.)
For this trip, I set aside a pile of goodies (an assortment of what I find "goody" and what he does) for him to stuff into his backpack. There was a mini-salami. (My kind of treat.) There were two cans of Spaghetti-O's. (His.) There was a peanut-butter sandwich with a swathe of the cloudberry and tundra blueberry jam that a bunch of us made last summer. (Both of us agree: non-perishable staple.) There was some trail-mix. (I think that was more of his kind of goody.) And there were Banana Oatmeal Cookies.
At least that's what I call them when I want the kudos of having prepared something healthy and sustaining for my boyfriend. Tish Boyle, who shared the recipe in her great book the good cookie, calls them Banana-Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies. Regardless of what you call them, they are good. Very good. Maybe not exciting. I wouldn't take them to a party. But for home, as a context to late night packing and last-minute plots to finish laundering all the clothes that you would like to pack, they are perfect for perfuming the wait for each load. And as a safety-measure for village travel, they are ideal. Hearty. Faintly sweet, embracingly comfortable. Tasty little morsels of home, that travel well and sustain without begging for compliments. And the best part - they taste even better the next day!
[On a side note, they were the cookies that I was baking while Lance Mackey was celebrating his first-place arrival in Nome. Lance Mackey is the Champion of the 35th Iditarod. If I knew how to link to the story, I would. [I learned!] There would be so much I would link to about this Last Great Race. But I don't know how to link yet. So I'll just say that it was exciting and wonderful, that I am very excited for the Mackie family and the Comback Kennel, and that I encourage you to do a google search to see what all the excitement is about!]
Banana-Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
(an almost-verbatim reprint of p. 68 of Tish Boyle's the good cookie)
1 3/4 quick-cooking rolled oats
1 1/2 culs all-purpose flour
1 1/2 culs all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, softened (she specifies unsalted; I use what I can find)
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate morsels
1 medium-sized ripe but firm banana (peeled and cut into 1/4-inch slices)
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease two baking sheets.
2. In a medium bowl, combine the oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugars at medium speed until combined, about 1 minute. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat until blended. At low speed, add the flour mixture one-third at a time, mixing until just blended. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the semisweet morsels, banna, and pecans (it's all right if the banana pieces get a little mashed).
4. Drop the dough by rounded tablespoonfuls on the prepared sheets, spacing the cookies 2 inches apart. Moisten your palm to prefent sticking, and flatten the mounds of dough slightly. Bake, one sheet at a time, for 11 to 13 minutes, until the cookies are golden brown on the bottom. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack and cool completely.
P.S. Here's the attempt to take a picture that prompted me to quickly run outside and snap the one above. I keep reading that the secret to food photography is natural light. I just need to read something about how to get good food photos whilst living in a rather light-less apartment and flitting about with a hand-me-down camera. I guess until I figure it out, I'll be running outside for a quick snap under the Midnight Sun before putting the food on the table! I'll leave for later the conundrum of what to do when the winter darkness is on its way back in........