January 7, 2012

The Art of The Nap......How Delicious!

It’s getting dark. Really dark. Yesterday I looked outside and it certainly looked and felt like it was midnight! I looked at the clock: 3:48 in the afternoon?  Seriously? The term “afternoon” implies that we are only mid-way through the day. But according to the scene outside my kitchen window, it appears to be night.

My inner clock is fighting hard to stay awake all day and remain on schedule. I am ready for dinner at 5 p.m., ready for jammies and bed by 8 p.m.  I absolutely refuse to enter the world of the "Early bird special!"

After we have now gone through the bustle of the holiday season, I suppose we should be napping more than ever. Do you nap? Once a week? Every day? Tell me about it. I want insight, direction. Do you think it’s a skill I could possibly learn, like knitting or kayaking or speaking Italian? Perhaps in the spirit of the season, I should make a New Year's resolution to master "the art of napping!"

Obviously, Mae enjoys her afternoon siesta!

Eating cookies in the middle of the afternoon might not sound like the best idea, but think again. These simple cookies are loaded with oatmeal (that’s good for you, right?) and dried figs (healthy and a good natural energy booster), and ginger.

Oatmeal, Fig, and Ginger Cookies
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups old fashioned oats
1 1/4 cups chopped dried figs
1/2 cup chopped crystallized ginger

Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper (or grease the sheets) and set aside.In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and two sugars together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the vanilla and mix on low speed until just combined, then add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary between additions. In a separate bowl, blend the flour, baking powder, and salt together with a whisk. With the mixer on low, slowly add the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Using a spoon or spatula, by hand stir in the oats, figs, and ginger, separating the dried fruit with your hands as you drop it in to make sure it gets evenly distributed. Form the dough into 2-inch balls, using roughly 2 tablespoons dough for each and place 2 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheets. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, rotating the sheets front to back and top to bottom in the oven about halfway through cooking. The cookies should be golden brown at the edges. Let cool for 5 minutes on the cookie sheets, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store cooled cookies in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Delicious alternatives to this cookie recipe!

•Traditional Oatmeal Raisin Cookies: 1 1/2 cups raisins.

•Apricot- Almond Oatmeal Cookies: 1 cup toasted slivered almonds, 1 cup chopped dried apricots, and 1 teaspoon cardamom.

•Cranberry-Orange Oatmeal Cookies: 1 1/2 cups dried cranberries, 2 tablespoons grated orange zest.

•Chocolate-Dipped Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies: Substitute 1 cup chocolate chips for the dried fruit. Melt an additional 2 cups chocolate chips and dip cooled cookies into chocolate to cover half of cookie. Let harden overnight on wax paper.

Crystallized ginger is shelf stable for up to two years. It can be used to relieve inflammation, motion sickness and indigestion. It helps open the lungs and bronchial tubes to relieve asthma symptoms. It is a soothing remedy for colds and sore throats, especially when combined with honey.

Soothe a Cold
• Eat warm gingerbread made with chunks of crystallized ginger, and drizzled with honey. Drink tea made from crystallized ginger, honey, lemon and a small pinch of salt. Make a compress of crystallized ginger to place on the chest or around the throat to relieve congestion.

Relieve Pain
• Chew crystallized ginger daily if you have rheumatoid arthritis or other pain. Apply warm compresses of crystallized ginger directly to affected areas if you have a sprain or strain. Crystallized ginger has proven to be almost as effective as ibuprofen in relieving inflammatory pain, at much lower cost.

Relieve Asthma Symptoms
• Mince crystallized ginger and mix it with honey, water and black pepper. The crystallized ginger helps open sinuses and bronchial tubes while the honey soothes the throat and eases the urge to cough. Boil crystallized ginger, remove pan from heat and place it on a trivet. Lean over the pan with a towel or other cloth draped over your head and the pan. Take long, slow breaths of the steam. Hold your breath for five to 10 seconds every five breaths, then resume inhaling the steam. This helps calm the bronchospasms and anxiety that accompany asthma attacks.

This is one of the great “cures” for a sore throat, but it’s also an all-round healthful, energy drink!

Ginger Tea
2 tablespoons peeled and chopped fresh ginger
2 1/2 cups water
About 2 tablespoons honey

Place the ginger and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes or until you can smell and taste the ginger. Strain in a mug and add honey to taste. The tea will keep for a day or two. Makes about 2 cups tea.


  1. We have succumbed to the winter doldrums too! I always feel like this after Christmas and I almost feel like I'm hibernating. Wonderful info on ginger, our grandson just had a bout of bronchitis so I will mention this to his Mom!

  2. We just need to embrace these winter months, read good books, drink hot ciders and snuggle with woolen blankets. Then dream about the spring gardens, right Joycee?


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