Some days life is hard, and great, and confusing, and exciting, and a little scary-wonderful. Sometimes a quiet year realises that its end is drawing near and hastens its course. Days flickers past your window without the opportunity to take stock of what is really important in that day. We become worried about having the right amount of things under the tree, about wearing the right dress to the office party, about the external and extraneous details rather than the internal and fundamental reasons behind this season and the opportunities it presents for us to look around and be grateful for our lives. Sometimes the speeding freight train of life is headed towards the cliff of a new year, and we need to pull on the emergency breaks and sit on the cliff for a while to admire the lights in the sky.
2012 has been a fairly quiet year for me, and then summer rolled around. Full of wonderful weddings and myriad celebrations, more intense training for the half marathon (only five weeks away), and the other pleasures of the Christmas and New Year season. December feels as though it is flying out of my grasp, and I don’t want to dismiss the beauty in each of the special occasions of this season. So, sometimes it is necessary to make cookies. Or sit in a quiet corner with a notepad and a pen, or zone out to some music while you take a walk, or however you manage to bring your heart and mind back to the present moment so that you can appreciate every wonder that you encounter.
Last Friday night my family embarked on one of my favourite Christmas traditions, which always reminds me of the true beauty of this time of year. Every year we visit the Christmas tree that is erected in King George Square in Brisbane. We have dinner, see the tree, and admire the Myer Christmas windows. To me, this is when Christmas really starts, and I relax into celebrating the holidays, and soaking up every part of the season.
Cranberry, Almond, and Oat Cookies
Makes about 24 cookies.
These make wonderful Christmas presents, or an unexpected holiday treat for a neighbour.
To toast the almonds: spread out on a baking sheet and place in the oven while it is warming up. Allow them to cook for about 10 minutes. Cool, and then chop.
- 100 grams butter, softened
- 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 egg
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup wholemeal plain flour
- 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
- 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup almonds, toasted (see head note), and chopped
- 1/4 cup cranberries
- Preheat your oven to 180C (350F) and line two cookie sheets with baking paper.
- In a medium bowl, use a wooden spoon to cream together the butter, sugar, and vanilla until fluffy and light. Add egg and beat to combine.
- In a separate bowl whisk together the baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and flour. Add flour mixture to creamed butter mixture and beat until just combined.
- Add oats, chocolate chips, almonds, and cranberries to the dough and mix until all combined.
- Spoon out heaped tablespoons of mixture onto the baking paper. Leave about 3cm between cookies as they will spread a little when baking.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes, then remove trays from oven and allow cookies to cool completely on a rack.
Tell me, dear reader, how do you remind yourself to slow down at this time of year? Any exciting early holiday plans?