Friday, September 3, 2010

Legends of the Fall: Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

As I mentioned in my previous post, the seasons are a'changin' here in the good ole Pacific Northwest. Do you know what that means? It means I need to watch Legends of the Fall, that cinematic masterpiece featuring Brad Pitt, Aidan Quinn, and sweeping shots of Montana (really though, they filmed in Canada, which I find a little disappointing- kinda kills my dream of living on a ranch in Montana if Montana is really Canada...). It also features a lot of death and a few random sexy scenes. It's a good movie and you should watch it, unless you don't want to see some random lady with her hand on Brad Pitt's bottom (I wonder if the actress ever put that on her resume).

Fall time also means oatmeal raisin cookies. Actually, always equals oatmeal raisin cookies because I always like oatmeal raisin cookies. I also don't feel terrible about eating oatmeal raisin cookies because they're sort of a healthy treat- they have oats (fiber) and raisins (fruit). It's a win-win situation as far as I'm concerned. Throw in a Legends of the Fall DVD and it's a win-win-win situation. And now you know how I spent my evening.

I actually recruited my baker-sister, Frakah, to help me make said cookies. Not that I needed help, per se, I just wanted the company. Legends of the Fall and cookies is a nice kind of girls' night if you ask me (though dad crashed on the couch to watch the movie, so it wasn't entirely a girls' night). I chose the oatmeal raisin cookie recipe from The Grand Central Baking Book. I made their Jammers several months back and those were delicious, so I had high hopes for these cookies.

It's a pretty basic recipe with no frills. Sometimes oatmeal needs the spotlight, and in this recipe it shines. I had the task of creaming the butter and sugars (probably the funnest part of baking is seeing something kinda thick and slimy and grainy become something so wonderfully light and fluffy, like Carebear made it) while Frakah measured out the dry ingredients and prepared the pans. Add wet ingredients to butter, then dry to that mixture, and in the end stir in the oats and raisins. The messy part came when we scooped the dough  and rolled them into balls, then flattened them between our palms before placing them on the baking sheets. They baked in the oven until golden on the edges, still wet in the middle. We were a bit confused about how done they were, so the first batch seemed under-cooked, the second was over-cooked, and the third was just right (like the three bears!- speaking of which, Tristan thinks he's a bear in Legends of the Fall!).

We were baking during the first part of the movie and I guess it's been awhile since I've seen it, because I always seem to forget about Samuel, the third brother. And then the part came (SPOILER ALERT) where he dies and I'm like, oh yeah, I forgot about his brutal death. And that's when Tristan goes crazy. Seriously, he holes up in a tent with human organs (from the men he killed who killed his brother). He's never the same after that, though he still manages to have a love affair with Susannah (played by Julia Ormond), but he's still not over his brother's death so he goes on some sort of soul-searching adventure around the world (thus the random lady caressing his bottom). Naturally, Alfred (played by 90s heartthrob Aidan Quinn) can't help but marry Susannah after a fight with his father over absentee Tristan. It's all so dramatic! And every time Tristan returns from somewhere (rounding up horses, war, his travels) there is the most dramatic music ever. I don't see how anyone could not fall for someone with his own score (the movie is kind of about how everyone loves Tristan the most even though he's the freest spirit). And the second half of the movie has surprising death after surprising death- I'm even surprised even though I've seen it a few times before.

So there I was, munching on cookies, watching a big dramatic movie, and generally enjoying my Friday evening in. I realize that I often confuse this movie with A River Runs Through It, so my next task is to watch that one soon. I know it also involves Brad Pitt in jail, brother issues, and a beautiful landscape. Turns out that movie really was filmed in Montana (and Wyoming, to be fair), so now I shall have to watch it. I wonder what cookie goes with that? Anyway, the oatmeal raisin cookie. It is good. Really good. Like, "who needs cinnamon?" good. I think the fact that they're simple makes them easier to eat one right after the other. They would taste really good with some vanilla bean ice cream, but alas, I have none. They also happen to go very well with Legends of the Fall.

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
from The Grand Central Baking Book by Piper Davis and Ellen Jackson

8.75 oz all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
7 oz granulated sugar
7 oz light brown sugar
2 eggs, room temp
11.5 oz rolled oats
4.25 oz raisins (recipe calls for golden, we used plain)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line multiple cookie sheets with parchment paper (at least 4).

Measure the flour, baking soda, and salt into a bowl and whisk to combine.

Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugars on medium speed for 3 to 5 minutes, until the mixture is lighter in color and fluffy. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl several times during the process.

While the mixer is running, crack the eggs into a liquid measuring cup and add the vanilla. Reduce the speed to low, then slowly pour in the eggs, allowing them to fall in one at a time and incorporating the first egg completely before adding the next. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl several times during the process.

Gradually add the dry ingredients (in 2 or 3 additions) with the mixer on low speed. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl once, to fully incorporate the butter and sugar. Combine the oats and raisins in the same bowl used for the dry ingredients, then add them to the bowl and mix together using a stiff rubber spatula.

Scoop the dough out with a scooper that is roughly the size of a ping pong ball, and roll the dough into a ball. Flatten the dough between the moistened palms of your hand and place on the cookie sheet (6 per sheet).

Bake for 8 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time. The cookies should be golden brown around the edges and appear slightly underdone and blond in the centers. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets.

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