In what feels like another lifetime, but in reality was just two weeks ago, we visited Drenthe, one of the northern provinces in the Netherlands. I was going to be giving three talks on gardening there within four days and my husband decided that instead of driving back and forth, we could make it into a mini-vacation and reserved three nights in this cute B&B.
My second talk was on Thursday and on our drive there we listened to the press conference the prime minister was giving on the radio: because of the rising numbers of people infected with the corona virus, gatherings of more than 100 people were banned and we were advised to keep distance and not shake hands. The gardening club decided to go through with the talk as is was a relatively small gathering but fewer people showed up than expected. My last talk was supposed to be on Saturday but it was part of a large event which had to be cancelled. So we suddenly had more time on our hands and decided to make the best of the situation as it was the first time I spent time in this part of the country. We walked around in the village, went on a few hikes in the nature reserve on our doorstep…
visited the hunebeds (megalithic tombs) in the vicinity…
enjoyed the sun and the wind and coffee and cookies…
My husband is (dare I say it…) slightly obsessed with coffee which means that whenever we go anywhere (including to our plot for 2 hours), he will bring a thermos with the carefully brewed life elixir. His preoccupation with coffee goes so far that on one memorable occasion when we were headed to Friesland to do a feature on an orchard he brought his thermos…and forgot the camera. No, he’ll never live that down.
Personally, I am less concerned with the coffee itself and more with what we’ll have with the coffee which is why I tend to bring a piece of cake or cookies. Before we went on our trip, I baked a batch of oatmeal-raisin-pecan-chocolate cookies and they proved themselves to be perfect for hiking. They’re basically like granola/protein bars but taste better than most. They’re full of nutritious ingredients and sweetened with natural sweeteners: a small amount of coconut blossom sugar (you can substitute muscovado sugar), apple sauce and raisins. They’re mostly made with pantry staples which hopefully you have on hand. I also hope that wherever you are, you can still go outside for a hike (maintaining a respectful distance from others!) or work in the garden. But if not, the cookies taste good inside too and a little remedial baking is good for the soul.
260g/ 2 ½ cups old fashioned oatmeal
125g / 1 cup all-purpose flour
110g / 1 cup whole spelt flour (or whole wheat flour)
80g/ ½ cup coconut blossom sugar (or muscovado or dark brown sugar)
1 tsp baking soda
A pinch of salt
1 tsp speculaas spice mix (or ground cinnamon)
125 ml/ ½ cup olive oil
125 ml/ ½ cup unsweetened apple sauce
150g / 5oz chopped chocolate (I prefer dark, but my kids prefer dark-milk chocolate)
130g/ 1 cup raisins
100g/ 1 cup roughly chopped pecans or walnuts
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius (350F).
In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients. Add the olive oil, apple sauce and eggs and stir with a large wooden spoon until combined. Stir in the chocolate, raisins and nuts too. Using a spoon or an ice scoop, form mounds of the dough on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Moisten your hand with water and flatten the dough slightly. Bake for about 12 minutes, until golden brown. The cookies should keep for at least a week in a cookie jar.