We spent this Saturday doing one of the most indulgent and relaxing things we all-too-infrequently do: we spent the day (and night) playing board games with friends. It feels like a very simple - even childish - pleasure, but I get Christmas-like excited whenever these days crop up. There's one game in particular our group has become besotted with, and we managed to squeeze in two rounds of play. A wee bit competitive in nature, I won the first game and graciously declared myself the best player in the room for then and evermore. For the second round of the game, I was within grasping distance of victory when I allowed myself to become weak, and watched as Mr A&N stole victory from me. I congratulated him by throwing my cards down and reminding him the whole way home that, really, I was the real winner, he just happened to finish first.
Since my competitive side can't be soothed with sleep, I woke up early on the Sunday again turning over his victory/my loss in my head. Finding yourself awake at 7am on a Sunday morning is a pretty poor showing for your two-day weekend, so I put my over-active mind (But WHY didn't I just stop him??!) to better use by thinking of something to bake that day.
Oatmeal. That was my first non-board game thought. Oatmeal cookies comfort me, with their moist and slightly chewiness and the outside chance of health benefits (if you can ignore the two sticks of butter). Oatmeal raisin cookies should have their own place in heaven, but I did want to try something different. My mind rummaged through the cupboards and found an un-opened bag of crystallized stem ginger. Stem ginger is almost peppery in its sharpness, which on its own can be a bit firey and should only be eaten by those prepared for the experience. The sharpness is a good combination with the buttery and slightly nutty dough of an oatmeal cookie.
For those without a mixer (like me) the dough does get very stiff once the oatmeal and flour are stirred in, so do either make sure you have the balance of spices right before adding in all the flour, or ask a big, strong man with a rather large mixing spoon to help you stir. Enjoy with a large glass of milk and leave any obsessive thoughts behind you.
Stem Ginger Cookies
Makes around 3 dozen cookies
- 1 C / 225 g unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 C firmly packed light brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 1/4 C oats
- 2 1/4 C all-purpose flour
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp all-spice
- 4 tsp ground ginger
- 1 C / 100 g stem ginger, roughly chopped
- Cream together the butter and sugar until smooth
- Add the eggs and the vanilla and stir well
- Sift together the flour, salt, soda and spices
- Stir the oats into the butter and sugar mixture
- Add the flour mixture in batches into the oats and butter, stirring thoroughly throughout
- Stir in the chopped stem ginger
- Heat the oven to 325 F / 170 C
- Chill the mixture for 30 minutes
- Drop by teaspoonful onto a cookie tray and cook for around 15 minutes until brown
- Let cool for the first minute on the tray, and then move to a rack to cool completely