Poor Santa. He has to stuff his big belly down sooty chimneys and haul his sack full of goodies in a mad dash from North pole to South. Perhaps a smooth, fruity glass of 2005 Falernia Carmenere/Syrah Reserva from the Elqui Valley of Chile will brighten his spirits. The Goji berry cookies will nourish him and provide antioxidants and vitamin C to ward off any sniffles as he works hard to bring Christmas cheer round the world. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice or any another day of gratitude; I wish you joy and happiness! I saw the following anonymous quote that expresses the wish well: "There's more, much more, to Christmas than candlelight and cheer; It's the spirit of sweet friendship that brightens all year. It's thoughtfulness and kindness, It's hope reborn again, For peace, for understanding, And for goodwill to men!"
There's a lot of hype about Goji berries, like the story of Li Qing Yuen, a Chinese man who allegedly lived to be 252 years old eating Goji berries daily; some brands claim their Goji berry products fight cancer and cure diabetes and glaucoma. The non-hype facts are that the berry, which has been cultivated in China for thousands of years, contains six vitamins, including high concentrations of vitamin C (up to 148mg per 100 grams), potassium, iron, selenium and vitamin B2, plus Beta-carotene and Zeaxanthin (this is one of the carotenoids in the retina--so there may be some truth to the glaucoma story). It's also known as "wolfberry" and is a member of the Solanacea family (tomato, potato, eggplant, etc.) An interesting bit of trivia is that wolfberry was introduced to the UK in the 1730's where it can be found in hedgerows, feeding and sheltering birds. Hedgerows are lines of bushes and trees that have been woven together, some since Anglo-Saxon times, to form natural fences between pastures and farms. Since reading about hedgerows in National Geographic years ago, one of the places on my travel "wish list" is to go to see them in rural England (see article on Bexley) They can be a tangled mass of vegetation many feet wide and tall, habitat for an amazing biodiversity of insects, birds and small animals.
GOJI BERRY AND PECAN OATMEAL COOKIES:
2 sticks softened butter
1 1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 extra large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. almond extract
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda
2 2/3 cups uncooked rolled oats
1/2 cup Goji berries
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream the butter and sugar together in electric mixer, stopping occasionally and using a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides. Add the eggs one at a time, then the vanilla and almond extract, mixing well after each addition. Sift the flour, salt, cinnamon and baking soda. Add the flour mixture in batches, mixing until just mixed. Remove the bowl from the mixer and stir in the oats with a spoon, then stir in the Goji berries and pecans. Using a large tablespoon, spoon heaping dollops onto buttered cookie sheets, leaving at least an inch between cookies. Bake 9 to 12 minutes until golden brown and cooked in the center. Use a spatula to place on wire rack to cool. Makes about 30 3" cookies.
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