What’s Cookin’? – Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Nothing says love quite like hot, fresh cookies straight out of the oven. There is something soothing about the combination of oatmeal and raisins. The hearty oats pair perfectly with the sweet, juicy raisins. This recipe is sure to delight the kid and the kid-at-heart. Here is the agricultural story behind this simple recipe.

oat-pile.pngOatmeal or rolled oats are one of those simple food products. Processing is minimal and they more or less just run the oat seed through large rollers to crush the seed flat. Oats used to be grown throughout Iowa as part of a regular crop rotation system. But as farmers in Iowa started growing more corn and soybeans, oats slowly fell out of the crop rotation cycle. Companies like the Quaker Oats company originally set up shop in Iowa because of the quick access to the base ingredients of their products. Now Quaker Oats (located in Cedar Rapids) sources raw ingredients from all over the Midwest.

sugar-beets.jpgIn any sweet treat, sugar plays a star role. Sugar that most people are familiar with has two primary sources – sugar cane or sugar beets. Sugar cane is grown in more tropical environments like Florida, Latin America, and South America. But in the upper Midwest, we grow sugar beets. Minnesota is the top sugar beet producing state. Sugar beets are much bigger than the beets bought in the store. They look like a large, misshapen potato. Once washed, the beets are thinly sliced. They are soaked in water releasing much of the natural sugar. The sugary water is then purified. Through several stages of evaporation, sugar crystals start to form as water is removed.

raisins.jpgRaisins provide a burst of flavor to these cookies. Raisins are dried grapes. Raisins are preserved and sweetened by the drying process. The grape industry is growing in Iowa. Most of the grapes in Iowa are going into the growing wine industry. This means that most of the raisins we eat are still grown in California vineyards. Raisins are made from seedless varieties of grapes and a vine will take up to three years before it produces fruit. The fruit are dried on the vines to minimize the energy needed to process them.

wheat2.jpgFlour helps give these cookies form and texture. Flour is wheat that has been finely milled. Some wheat is grown in Iowa, but much more wheat is grown in some of our near neighboring states like Kansas, Nebraska, and North and South Dakota. There are many different types of wheat flour that can be used for different purposes. Wheat used for bread may have a high gluten content so that the bread will be light and fluffy in texture. Different types of wheat can be mixed together to get different properties in the flour. For this recipe, a simple all-purpose flour will work.

IMG_0731.JPGAnd now, here is the recipe to make these delicious cookies.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup dark raisins

Directions: 

  1. Melt butter and stir in sugars until blended. Add vanilla and egg until combined. Set aside.
  2. Sift together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Mix into wet ingredients.
  3. Stir in oats, walnuts and raisins. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  4. Drop cookie dough onto a lightly greased cookie sheet. Place into a preheated 350 degree Fahrenheit oven. Bake for 12-15 minutes.
  5. Makes approximately 3 dozen cookies.

Enjoy!

-Will

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