Happy New Year! Wishing you well and for a better 2021.
It has been some time since I’ve written. Despite the pandemic, it was a very busy year. Thank you to everyone that came out to the peach farm and farmers markets this summer, we are so grateful for all the support. And for Healdsburg Jazz, what a year it has been, transformative and exciting.
I am sure like many of you I spent Christmas with my immediate family, and also my mother of 92 years. It was a small gathering. I have three siblings and together with their families we number 17, too many to be together, so we celebrated in our individual homes and it was still nice.
We had Liberty duck, their Raft Syrah, wonderful sides and of course there was plenty of baking. When I’m down at my Mom’s home in Almaden, I always go through her recipes and notes, as it brings me back. I hadn’t made and decorated a gingerbread house in years, but we took on the project this Christmas and it was so much fun. One can get very creative with candy canes, sprinkles, sours and lots and lots and lots of royal icing. We plan to continue the (now returned) gingerbread tradition annually.
As I have shared before, my mom was an excellent baker and cook. Growing up we ate dinner together as a family every night and dessert was an essential part of the meal. There were always fresh baked cookies in a tin and a collection of Cadbury Caramello bars too. Do you think she had a sweet tooth?
This holiday season I was delighted to find my favorite cookie recipe in my Mom’s vast pile of recipes — cowboy cookies. Supposedly, these cookies were considered the first power bar of the plains, for they kept well and provided energy for long days in the Old West. I am sure they filled their cookies with lots of different nuts, dried fruit and anything else that was nutritious and sustaining. Here is a basic recipe from my Mom’s friend and neighbor Lois Frankom, with chocolate chips, and you can adapt and change as you wish. This cookie is light, crisp and simply delicious.
1 cup sugar (white)
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup butter
- Blend sugars and butter first, then add eggs, beat until light and fluffy (this is key)
2 cups sifted flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
- Sift dry ingredients then add to above mixture until combined
2 cups oats
1 tsp vanilla
1 package chocolate chips (12 oz)
- Add these final ingredients to the above mixture until combined — this is where you can get creative by adding more nuts, dried fruit, coconut, etc…
Drop by the teaspoon on a cookie sheet and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 12-15 minutes. Cookie perfection.
Here’s to 2021.
Gayle Okumura Sullivan is co-owner, with husband Brian, of Dry Creek Peach & Produce in Healdsburg and Executive Director Healdsburg jazz.