A friend living in Paris wrote yesterday asking for news from Cazo. I replied:
I’m having a lovely time down here though I’ll admit it took a while to adjust to being alone, to cooking for one. The time just evaporates. I forget to eat, go to sleep too late, and don’t get up very early….
Just returned from a walk in town with a friend (from Brooklyn!). I’d made some oatmeal cookies and we ate them at her place before stepping out to burn them off exploring the little back alleys in St. Chinian. Then we kind of swept up out of the village into olive groves and vineyards. It is both as beautiful as it sounds and then not as beautiful at the same time. We had to, of course, step over la #$%! des doggies in town and go through some slummy sections. But zis eez France and it’s country livin’.
I’ve taken a few remarkable road bike rides. Two days ago my neighbor Stan and I pedaled 27 kilometers – lots of climbing and stunning views of the Pyrenees still covered in snow. The mountain peaks were so high and so white that they looked like clouds.
Marie and Luc and the goats are fine. Madame S. had emergency retinal (hope that’s a word) surgery and her eye is recovering nicely. The renovation on the gite on the corner of our petit rue is coming along. The cat population is a little down. And the bread truck has been arriving as late as 9:00. Otherwise, la plus ca change….
Tomorrow I look forward to a new experience: it’s trash bag day at the “Marie.” Supposedly once a year the state distributes FREE trash bags to all tax payers. Don’t ask me! I’ll fill you in when I get to Paris. Maybe this happens there, too? Look around tomorrow to see if any of the chic looking ladies have an unsightly roll of garbage bags sticking out of their Hermes bags.
It’s been a very special visit. This may be the last blog entry I make before leaving Cazo to visit my friend in Paris and then head home to Vermont. It’s quite a mad dash to close up all of the shutters and say goodbye to the animals. No matter how busy packing gets, though, I’ll be sure to bake another batch of oatmeal cookies to take on the train with me. In this land of extravagant confections, ancient buildings, and dramatic landscapes, it feels good to have some little morsels of America tucked in my bag. And it’s also good to have friends to share them with.
Donna’s Oatmeal Raisin Morsels
My neighbor Donna – a super cook and an even better friend- left a bag of these cookies in my freezer to welcome me to Cazo and has graciously shared the recipe. Thank you so much Donna (for everything)! They may not look like the sexy gateaux in the patisserie windows but their flavor, oh their flavor!
Makes 36-40 cookies
10.5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar (granulated if you can find it)
1 egg, slightly beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
a pinch of salt
2 cups oatmeal (not instant)
½ cup roughly chopped golden raisins (chocolate chips make a delicious substitute, of course)
½ cup chopped nuts (I used hazelnuts)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease baking sheets or line with parchment paper.
Cream together butter and sugar until fluffy and smooth. Add the egg and vanilla and beat. Sift flour, baking powder and salt into the bowl with the butter mixture. Add oats, raisins and nuts and stir to combine (Put your nose in the bowl when you’re mixing these into the batter – you’ll just want to live in there for a little while.).
Roll tablespoons of the mixture into balls and place on the baking trays. Flatten the balls with a fork dipped in flour.* Bake the cookies until pale golden, approx. 15-18 minutes. Cool on trays for five minutes before transferring to wire rack. For some reason, these cookies taste even better after being frozen overnight.
Note: If you like moister rather than crisp cookies, don’t flatten them with a fork. Instead, simply roll the mixture into balls and then gently press them onto the trays into rustic-shaped domes.