I am still coming to terms with moving away from Oregon. After living in Portland for over 12 years and moving down to the Bay Area two months ago, I still can’t quite let go and seem to be suffering from a minor case of separation anxiety.
Don’t get me wrong, Cali living has been pretty dang great. The weather is lovely, the scenery is breathtaking and the people are friendly. But, this time of year, I am used to preparing myself for a 9 month, bone-chilling, foggy downpour. I’m accustomed to slowing down and regrouping with quiet slow weekends at home, crockpot meals and a deep-seated desire to bake constantly. Here in California; it’s only rained three times in the past 2 months, the leaves are barely changing colors, and we spent last Sunday on the sunny shores of a beach outside of Santa Cruz soaking up the 83° rays of golden sunshine. I know, this is sounds like some serious whitewhine and I am not complaining, it just feels weird.
We Oregonians hate waste almost as much as we hate Seattleites. We recycle, upcycle and compost everything possible. That goes for the weather too. Our sunny warm days come in a limited supply, so we make the most of every hour of daylight when the rain isn’t falling. Dayn and I are still imprisoned by our Oregon mentalities and we keep squeezing day trips and outdoorsy adventures into every minute of our weekends. It’s as if we are stockpiling the sunshine and adventure for the winter.
I am finally realizing that Californians don’t turn into unsocial hibernating bears for 9 months and there will be plenty of time to get out there and enjoy the sunshine throughout the year.
While I am still experiencing deep pangs of homesickness, I am learning to embrace the beauty and pace of life in California. As a coping mechanism, I created a new cookie recipe that I’ve named Oregon Trail Cookies, inspired by some of our fave local OR flavors. I am so smitten with the Extra Thick Rolled Oats from Bob’s Red Mill that I practically turn every cookie recipe into an oatmeal base. The oats create such a wonderful chewy texture and give cookies seriously sustainable depth (Wow, that is such an Portland thing to say). I also incorporated filberts, the official Oregon State Nut. Filberts are known to everyone on earth other than Oregonians as hazelnuts, once again keeping it weird. The Beaver State also produces some pretty robust cherries, so I threw cherries in the mix. Most important of all, we Stumptowners are all coffee aficionados, our obsession with coffee is of SWF proportions. We chug that stuff like water or should I say we drink water like coffee. Either way, coffee was a must in these cookies. Finally, just because it seemed right, I added chunks of dark chocolate.
Something amazing came out of a severe case of OR withdrawals, the Oregon Trail Cookie. And to think, I didn’t even die of dysentery or lose an Ox on this baking journey. If Oregon were a cookie, it would taste like this; sustaining, robust and a little nutty.
Well, I’m Ore-gon for now.
- all purpose flour - 2 cups
- baking soda - 1 teaspoon
- baking powder - 3/4 teaspoon
- salt - 1 teaspoon
- unsalted butter at room temperature - 1 cup (2 sticks)
- granulated sugar - 1 cup
- brown sugar, lightly packed - 1 cup
- eggs at room temperature - 2
- pure vanilla extract - 2 teaspoons
- Bob's Red Mill extra thick rolled oats - 2 3/4 cups
- 60% dark chocolate chips or chunks - 1 1/2 cups
- filberts (hazelnuts) - 1 cup
- dried tart cherries - 1 cup
- espresso powder - 1 1/2 tablespoons
- Preheat oven to 350°
- Once the oven is preheated, bake the hazelnuts for 8-10 minutes until they begin to darken and give off a nutty aroma.
- Once the hazelnuts have cooled you can remove the skins by rolling handfuls of the nuts around in your bare hands or in a clean kitchen towel. Don't worry if the skins don't come off completely, they give the cookies character.
- Measure the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and espresso powder into a bowl and whisk to combine.
- Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar on medium speed for 3-5 minutes, until fluffy and light in color. Be sure to scrape down the bowl a few times during the process.
- While the butter and sugar are mixing, roughly chop the hazelnuts and chocolate into bite sized chunks and set aside.
- Adjust the mixer to a low speed and slowly add the eggs, one at a time, and vanilla (I like to crack the eggs and add the vanilla in a measuring cup before adding it to the butter and sugar mixture). Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl once.
- Gradually add the dry ingredients in 2-3 additions with the mixer on low speed. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl to fully incorporate the butter and sugar.
- Combine the oats, chocolate chunks, cherries, and hazelnuts in the same bowl you used for the dry ingredients, then add them into the mix with the mixer on low speed. Mix until everything is well distributed.
- Use a cookie scoop to form the dough into ping pong size balls. Arrange on a prepared cookie sheet and press into 1/2 inch thick disks.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time. The edges of the cookies will begin to brown and the middle should appear slightly underdone. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets. They will continue to cook and should be crunchy on the edges with a warm and chewy center.
- Best enjoyed with Stumptown coffee somewhere along The Oregon Trail or while playing a vintage version of Oregon Trail.
- Recipe adapted from the Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe in Grand Central Baking Book . Also known as my personal baking bible.