On one of my best friend’s born day, I called to talk about a personal problem and those congratulatory words of “Happy Birthday” never entered the conversation. True to her friendship, she listened and wished me well. A few days later, I realized she never mentioned, hinted or questioned my forgetfulness about her special day.
She’s the friend I discuss revolving problems at three in the morning. We talk countless hours on the phone. Other than my parent’s home number, I remember her phone number. My boyfriend frequently quizzes me about his number (the last four digits occasionally perplex my memory).
The first time we met, she was this bright girl with a warm smile sitting at our cafeteria table. She was a ‘new girl’ in orchestra with my other best friends who introduced us. I was a ‘cool kid’ cheerleader who dismissed this girl with a mickey mouse fan club voice and a Jheri curl hairstyle. As we exchanged pleasantries, I made a mental note to talk with my familiar girlfriends about being careful of inviting certain people to our table. Two years later, “mickey mouse” had stolen the affection of my high school crush.
Yea, its a type of teenage girl drama of yesteryear that we occasionally talk about with snorts of laughter. She has her version of our stories, such as vehemently defending her Jheri curls as a “Wave Nouveau” hair style. Today, she defends her hairstyle with a mature Mickey Mouse voice, and she sounds more like her mother every year. Regardless of our perception, I’m thankful she ignored my snobbish Junior High attitude, because she’s more like a sister today.
The inspiration for these cookies came from strawberries being one of her favorite fruits. Since these cookies are being shipped from my Brooklyn home, dried strawberries were used. Like most dried fruit, the flavor is concentrated. The cookies have a strawberry jam and buttery taste with a touch of roughly chopped walnuts. The granola, my favorite weekday breakfast with honey yogurt, is also flavored with strawberry jam and dried strawberries. Combining strawberry flavors with coconut oil and dried flakes in granola makes this breakfast treat an unforgettable yum.
Let’s be honest, I’m not good at remembering birthdays. When I do, a kind birthday call or email is all that’s needed. Rarely do I send cards, because they eventually go in the recycling bin. Gifts of Strawberry Walnut cookies and Strawberry Coconut Granola are more unforgettable, especially if they’re meant to beg for forgiveness.
Dried Strawberry Walnut Cookies
2 cups unbleached flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
A pinch of sea salt
1 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter; room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla
2 tbsp. unsweetened strawberry preserves
1/4-cup organic whole milk
1/2 cup chopped dried strawberries
1/2 cup roughly chopped walnuts
1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly butter 2 baking sheets. Set aside.
2. Lightly toss the flour, baking powder and sea salt together. Set aside.
3. Using a mixer, cream butter and sugar for 4 to 5 minutes.
4. Add egg, vanilla and strawberry preserves. Mix until just incorporated; if necessary, scrape the sides of the bowl.
5. At a low speed, add half the flour mixture, and mix until just incorporated. Add the milk and mix until just incorporated, for a few seconds. Add the last half of the flour mixture, and mix until just incorporated, for a few seconds.
6. Turn off the mix and stir in the dried strawberries and walnuts.
7. Drop cookie batter by the teaspoons onto the baking sheets. Bake for about 10 to 15 minutes, or until the bottoms are golden brown. Remove from the oven and place cookies on a wire rack to cool.
8. These will be gone in a few hours. If you have will power, store in a sealed container.
Strawberry and Coconut Granola
2-1/2 cups rolled/old fashion oats or multi-grain oats
1 cup roughly chopped walnuts
1 cup roughly chopped pecans
1 cup unsweetened large coconut flakes
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground clove
1 tsp. sea salt; more or less depending on personal taste
1/4 to 1/2-cup molasses; more or less depending on personal taste for sweetness
3 tbsp. coconut, olive or walnut oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2-cup unsweetened strawberry preserves; more or less depending on personal taste for sweetness
1 cup roughly chopped dried strawberries
1. Preheat oven to 300° F.
2. Toss the first eight ingredients together in a large bowl. Set aside.
3. Place molasses, olive or walnut oil, vanilla and strawberry preserves in a small saucepan. Heat to warm, but do not boil.
4. Mix the molasses-strawberry mix into the dry ingredients to make the granola mix.
5. Evenly spread granola mix over the baking sheet.
6. Bake for 45 minutes and stir every 10 minutes until granola starts turning golden brown. The color will determine if the granola is done, for they’ll be a little soft when removed from the oven. As it cools, the granola will become crisp.
7. Once the granola is cool, toss in the dried strawberries.
8. Place in a container and seal tight.
9. Enjoy with Greek yogurt mixed with molasses or honey.
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