Caffeine and cookies on a Thursday afternoon…

Time for some “real talk” here… and by “real talk,” I mean I’m not limited to a word count or subject matter because this is straight-up bloggy, not newspapery. There might even be a typo or two. Plus I just drank a double-mug of green tea and ate some cookies so I’m feeling good to go.

My husband and I have been living in our RV for the past year (yes, a year now – my RV-living/camp gourmet cookbook will be out as soon as I write it, but I digress…). We live in a beautiful West Texas town, where we get to breathe fresh air and enjoy majestic scenery all around us every day. I saw some antelope by the roadside earlier today. You can’t take a walk around the back streets of town without coming into contact with mule deer springing around. Hawks are migrating right now. It’s pretty darn spectacular here.

There are drawbacks to living in a town with a population of around 1,000. If you watched the movie Dancer, TX: Population 81, it was filmed in our town. Some of our neighbors were actors in it. Small town life. Our closest CostCo is about three hours away, but we don’t mind the day trip to El Paso to have lunch and stock up on supplies.

The closest HEB is probably in Mexico, where we really aren’t inclined to shop. I might be exaggerating a little about the closest HEB store being in Mexico, but I know for a fact there are two a couple hours from us on the US side of the border so I guess I could run to Midland/Odessa if I was desperate enough for some Central Market goodies. Man, I miss Central Market stuff.

Before we moved out West, we lived three minutes from a huge, sparkly new HEB and I was there every day, sometimes twice. I enjoyed shopping daily for meals.

Gotta plan a little better when you’re way out here. It was a definite lifestyle change, but one I’ve embraced and truly appreciate.

So several months back, I went to a Cookie Swap program at our library (I wrote about it in December) and one of the participants brought cookies I’d never heard of before… Anzac Cookies. Anzac Cookies are a traditional recipe from Australia and New Zealand, and they are associated with the public holiday (ANZAC Day) to commemorate the Gallipoli landings during WW1… I also read somewhere that ladies would bake them and send them to their soldiers because they stayed tasty for quite some time. I’m sure there’s more history to the cookies but that’s what I’m going with for now.

Living in our RV, I rely heavily on my Breville Smart Oven Pro. We have a perfectly fine kitchen set-up in the RV, but I feel like I’m cooking in Barbie’s Kitchen. Everything’s small and compact. I can stand at the stove and wash the dishes. Well, not really but close.

I’ve knocked things over so many times and cussed so much that my husband set up a screen room outside for me to use my propane-fueled three-burner Denali Pro 3X cooker and grill, so I can cook where I’ve got more elbow room. But we took it down last summer when we experienced our “monsoon season” where  daily rainstorms drenched us every afternoon for months. I’ve learned a lot about camp-cooking, that’s for sure.

I’m also in love with our portable induction cooktop, but I’ll save that for another time.

Back to the Breville…
I’ve had it since we lived in our house, where it pretty much replaced using the regular kitchen oven when cooking meals for just the two of us. No need to heat up the whole kitchen when I can use the most magnificent toaster oven ever created. I’ve actually cooked with the Smart Oven for about four years, and have had tremendous results. I highly recommend it. It’s also a convection oven, and I’ve learned to drop the recommended temperature by 25 degrees if I’m using that option. Just a convection hint. I’ve burned a thing or two and know these things.

Back to the cookies…
Knowing I’d need to be baking lots of goodies for the upcoming Lions Club Bake Sale, I decided I’d start with a test run of Anzac Cookies to gauge temps and times because I don’t bake much of anything other than the occasional blueberry muffins or banana bread, mostly because it’s just the two of us and just the two of us will eat it.

So I don’t bake stuff.

Throw in a slight sensitivity to gluten and a less than slight aversion to even the best gluten-free baking items (oops, I actually kinda sneered a little when I typed that) and that means that nope, there’s not much baking in our little home on wheels.

So for the Anzac Experiment, I made a half batch, and had my flour (Bob’s Red Mill Organic), sugar (organic coconut sugar), oats (Bob’s Red Mill), walnuts (CostCo), salt (pink Himalayan), butter (KerryGold), maple syrup (Trader Joe’s since I didn’t have golden syrup), water and baking soda (Bob’s Red Mill because it’s aluminum-free) all mixed up and ready to go.

Then, I decided the bowl of dough looked boring. I’m sure they would’ve been delightful left as is, but I’m not one to leave good enough alone. So I added some vanilla. And cinnamon. And chocolate chips. And chopped up dried cherries.

You see, I have a slight problem with baking. When I’m in the kitchen zone, I like to throw things together that come out exceeding anything an ol’ recipe might suggest. I use the recipe as a starting point, or a strong-ish suggestion, but I can’t remember ever following anything just as written.

Baking isn’t quite as flexible.

Baking requires following rules and directions, something I’ve always struggled with.

BUT, my additions to the Anzac Cookies were a winner… I ended up freezing six of the cookie balls for later baking, and that’s what we just polished off. Three for him, three for me.

Before dinner.

Back to baking now… nine cookies at a time… in my beloved little oven.img_3389_editedAbove are the frozen cookie dough balls. Freeze them on parchment or waxed paper on a cookie sheet and then double-bag them to ensure their safety in the depths of the cold, dark freezer while they wait for you to bake them.

Below are my version of the Anzac Cookies baked. With all the oats and coconut and cherries, they just seemed like a healthy snack… so we didn’t hesitate to eat them. All of them. While they were still warm. They were wonderful. I think these would be great for breakfast… Minus the flour, it’s about like a nicely dressed bowl of oatmeal, right?!img_3257_edited

This recipe for Anzac Cookies is from the Better Homes and Gardens website. I’m sure I have it somewhere in storage in my boxes of books and recipes and never even realized how tasty they truly are… made straight up the way the recipe intends, or with the additions I made. YUM.

Anzac Cookies

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or foil; set aside. In a very large bowl, combine flour, sugar, oats, coconut, walnuts, and salt; set aside.
  2. In a large saucepan, combine butter and golden syrup; bring to boiling. In a small bowl, stir together the hot water and baking soda; immediately add to the boiling butter mixture (the addition of the soda mixture causes the mixture to rise in the saucepan). Pour the hot mixture into the flour mixture; stir with a wooden spoon until well mixed.
  3. Shape dough into 1-1/2-inch balls. Place balls 2 inches apart on prepared cookie sheets. Using the palm of your hand, flatten balls slightly. Bake in preheated oven about 12 minutes or until cookies are golden brown. Cool 2 minutes on cookie sheets. Transfer cookies to a wire rack; let cool. Makes about 30 cookies.

Layer cookies between pieces of waxed paper in an airtight container; cover. Store at room temperature for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

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