It’s been a strange winter. Here we are in the later part of January with only our second real snowfall. It too will be gone sometime this week with temperatures in the upper 30’s during the day. We’ve been in a cycle of bitter cold followed by moderate temperatures all season. As farmer’s, the weather is of constant interest to us, as the reality of climate change has us planning for future weather extremes which seem to be the new ‘normal’. We have found ways to extend our season, by building hoop houses. We have diversified our crops so that if one fails due to unforeseen weather, we have other crops that might like warmer temperatures or higher amounts of precipitation, like potatoes and onions. Each spring when we hit the ground running we realize not only are we getting a little older, we need to be more physically active during our off-season.
We are fortunate to have a wonderful environmental facility only 5 miles away from us, with excellent hiking trails on over 600 acres of land in Barry County. Pierce Cedar Creek Institute is a cross between a nature center and a biological station. Its mission is to teach personal stewardship for the land around us. Whenever we hike the many trails we not only exercise our bodies, but our hearts, as we enjoy the gift of land that is cared for by its members and interns from various state-wide universities. It is a great place to experience and learn from nature.
By going out on Pierce Cedar’s hiking trails 3 times a week we hope to be in shape to start our farm season in April. Our two dogs Ella and Bleu know when I get Bleu’s harness out that we’re going for a hike. Bleu can hardly contain himself.
When we return home, all the fresh air has our stomachs growling. Our resident baker Val knew it was time for some home-made oatmeal cookies. These are moist and chewy, with dried tart cherries from Well’s Orchard in Grand Rapids. Healthy never tasted so good.
Val’s Oatmeal Cookies
- 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter (12 Tbsp)
- 1/2 granulated cane sugar
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 1 farm fresh egg
- 2 Tbsp water
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 2/3 cup unbleached all-purpose organic flour
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 salt
- 1/2 baking soda
- 3 cups quick-cooking oats
- 1 cup dried tart cherries
- Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line two cookie sheets with silicone baking mats. Alternately grease two baking sheets.
- Cream together the butter and both sugars until fluffy. Add the egg and beat thoroughly. Mix in the water and vanilla.
- Sift together the flour, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda; add to egg mixture and mix well. Add the oats and cherries, and mix.
- Use a cookie scoop, placing 12 cookies evenly on mat; alternately use large spoons and form cookies using about 2-3 Tbsp of batter for large cookies.
- Bake until edges are done but the centers are still soft, 15-17 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes then transfer to a rack and cool completely.
Yield: About 2 dozen cookies
“If cookies be the food of love….munch on!” –Dame Judi Dench