Thursday, September 2, 2010

Potluck in the Park

Tom and I went to a potluck in the park this past Friday night, after a religious service held in the park's pavilion. The food was almost as fabulous as the company!

Unfortunately, because picture taking is forbidden on Shabbat (and this was an event within the Jewish community, so I had to be respectful even though I don't subscribe to the rule myself), I only have pictures of my contribution to the cause: Chocolate Cherry Oatmeal Cookies.

It would have been great to show the lasagna, the macaroni and cheese, the tomato-basil-mozzarella salad, the chocolate chip cookies, the vegetarian mock chicken liver pate, the fruit and vegetable trays, the apple pie, the cucumber salad in vinaigrette, the potato-dill salad, the homemade challah (made by the Rabbi's husband, no less!), and all the other fabulous offerings ... sigh. But not this time.

I never know what to bring to a potluck ... decisions, decisions! I was taking RSVPs, so I knew what others were contributing; but that didn't help very much -- it only gave me more ideas!

And, of course, because the High Holiday preparation chaos continues and deepens and expands and mutates, my time was limited. So what could I bring that would:

a) be easy to make

b) be easy to transport

c) be popular with everyone, including kids

d) keep well without needing to be either heated or refrigerated

e) be dairy or pareve [PAHRv] - neither meat nor dairy, for those who keep kosher and can't mix meat and dairy (since it was a dairy potluck rather than a meat meal)

f) be non-citrus, for an attendee with a severe allergy

and g) most of all, taste good???

Well, cookies won the day!

I don't understand people who buy cookies at bakeries or who purchase pre-made cookie dough at the grocery store ... not that there's anything wrong with them -- I've certainly eaten far more than my fair share over the past 47+ years! But cookies are just so ridiculously easy to make from scratch -- especially bar cookies, like brownies, which all bake at once -- that it's just not worth the trip to the store when you can have homemade cookies and a house that smells fabulous all at the same time.

So, since I'm an early riser -- 5:30 most mornings, whether the alarm has gone off or not -- I baked cookies while waiting for my coffee to brew. And then, of course, I had to try one to make sure they were good. Not necessarily a noble way to start the day, but it's hard to argue with coffee and chocolate. And I did sneak some oatmeal and some cherries in there ... consummate nutrition!

At the end of the evening, there were only 5 cookies left (which made Tom happy, 'cause he wanted to have some with his morning coffee the next day!). I guess these were a good choice ... :)

Chocolate Cherry Oatmeal Cookies

1/3 cup dried cherries, chopped
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup Earth Balance butter substitute, softened
1/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 large egg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 heaping tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1-1/3 cups unbleached white flour
1-1/4 cups quick-cooking oats

Preheat the oven to 325 F. Grease a baking sheet.

Place the cherries into a small bowl and cover with water; set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, Earth Balance, brown sugar and sugar. Stir in the vanilla, egg, cinnamon, baking soda, cocoa powder and salt. Mix in the flour, then mix in the oats. Drain all but a tablespoon or so of the water from the cherries, then add the cherries and the remaining dribbles of water to the batter. Mix well.

Roll the dough into balls the size of ping-pong balls.

Place 12 of them onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 12 minutes until the edges of the cookies are set but they're still slightly soft in the center. Place them on a rack to cool and continue with the rest of the batter.

Makes about 36 cookies.

Just want to add a quick note of apology to all my cyber-friends who are likely feeling neglected of late as I'm behind in reading, commenting and emailing ... I'm trying to keep up, but it's getting more and more difficult. (The only way I manage my own posts is by cramming on the weekends and scheduling ahead.) No time at work (lunch??? HA!!!), exhausted at home, literally falling asleep in the chair some nights with the computer on my lap. I still love all of you! I just have to get through next week, when all the High Holiday preparations are complete, and then I'll play catch-up and show you all the t.l.c. you deserve ... :)


Team Chastain said...

Those look so amazingly de-lish!

I make challah fairly often and share it with neighbors and friends. IMO it's the best in the universe for French toast! :) I am craving your cookies and some fresh challah -- and French toast with some not so fresh challah! haha!

Rachel (Diary of a Recovering Chocoholic) said...

Those look great! I love cherries, but I've never tried them in cookies.

Unknown said...

Those cookies look soooooo good! I'd love one right now.. ok, who am I kidding, I'd love them all right now!!
By the way, I know what you mean about keeping up with things in the cyber world. I get up at 4:30 every morning and I still don't have enough time in the day to take care of my blog and email and check out everyone's wonderful blogs.. UGH.. some days I need 3 of me!! Hang in the there girl and just take care of you!

Cranberry Morning said...

Those look great. Love chocolate and cherries, so how could you go wrong with that! As far as making cookies from scratch, years ago one of the young cousins visited and was amazed when we made cookies from scratch. She had thought that cookies from scratch meant buying the tube at the store, slicing them, and putting them on cookie sheets. :-) NEVER had anyone in her family actually made cookies.

Unknown said...

Cherries in the cookies? Mmmmmmm.

Mock chopped liver? Was it mushroom or nut based?

I didn't eat chopped liver for a long while, and was satisfied with the fake stuff. Then one day I had the real stuff again, and I never looked back.

Honestly, the only thing that tastes like liver is liver. Who are we kidding?

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