Recipe: anzac biscuits
I can never get into the mountains early enough. This is the truth seeing as we like to mountain year round. It’s just that the summer season is so fleeting up here – typically not melting out fully until mid-July and then getting snow as early as mid-September. Trust me, I am NOT complaining about snow in the backcountry. In fact, I would prefer a little more this year. Jeremy and I did a couple of hikes recently and nearly cried tears of sorrow at the sparse and measly little patches of snow at 11,000 feet. I mean seriously… this is what the backcountry looked like last year on the first day of summer.
my kind of summer
Really though, our tears are more for the parched wilderness than the skiing. We can find skiing of one kind or another most of the year, but the snowpack is 2% of normal right now and there is a giant wildfire blazing an hour north of us. We are on alert. Our evacuation items are ready. In the meantime we hike (and mountain bike and trail run). It’s funny to walk up these trails without heavy boots and skis and skins on your feet, and by funny I mean way the hell lighter. It’s also mind-numbingly slow hiking out compared to skiing out. And it’s hot. That’s why we love our mountain forests, for the shade they provide and the beautiful, lush undergrowth.
shooting star by a small stream
the view across to the continental divide
When I first began hiking with Jeremy almost 20 years ago, I was an impatient hiker who was hellbent on peak-bagging. I think that’s a common newbie characteristic. As I’ve grown older, maybe even wiser, I’ve come to accept it for what it really is – a journey. The journey IS the goal. Once I understood this, I’ve enjoyed a greater success rate of summits despite the fact that summits aren’t really my goal anymore. So zen. This is especially so when you hike in a place you know well, as if you are visiting the plants and animals and rocks and streams – the community. One of my favorite local hikes is Pawnee Pass (and Pawnee Peak given no thunderheads) on the Continental Divide. It’s beautiful. It is long enough to be a worthy hike, yet not so long that it kills you. It has a nice climb, great views, and so many wonderful flowers and critters at the right time of day and right time of year.
fairy primrose (alpine primrose)
my favorite blue: alpine forget-me-nots
The flowers get shorter and smaller as you climb higher, because the weather trashes the higher elevations with wind, rain, snow, everything it can throw at you. Look out across the high country and most people see grasses, dirt, and rock. If you look closely, you will discover so much life thriving in little crevices where a pocket of soil has developed in the lee of the boulder or a stream has fed a tiny depression. This has always amazed me, inspired me. A few years ago I had done this hike with Jeremy, our friend, Marianne, and Kaweah. It was shortly after my radiation treatments had ended, but I felt that I needed to get outside. Halfway up, I was hit with these recurring abdominal pains which I figured were just side effects from radiation or perhaps chemo. I didn’t realize I had a smoldering appendix until two months later in the emergency room. But I told Jeremy and Marianne to hike ahead and I would have Kaweah for… company (let’s face it, she’s not saving ANYONE) and that I’d just turn around when I caught up with them on their return.
on the pass
storm clouds building
Jeremy and I talked about that hike this time.
Me: Remember when…
Jeremy: Yeah. I was so happy when I saw you and Kaweah coming over the rise.
Me: I didn’t know if I was going to make it to the pass, but I leaned into it and put one foot in front of the other and the distance just disappeared under my feet.
Jeremy: I’m sure Kaweah was tugging at the leash and going nuts smelling all of the marmots and pikas.
Me: There was that…
Maybe the reason I love hiking so much is that I find it’s a lot like life: a journey, an adventure, with very real risks and decisions. It’s good to be at it again, good to see the high country in bloom and buzzing with critters. It reminds me that it’s good to be alive.
Have you ever done a hike that you thought looked or sounded meh on paper, but turned out to love once you were actually there? I love those kinds of surprises. (I’ve also done plenty of hikes that looked like they would be awesome and were absolutely miserable.) This cookie was one of those for me. My first introduction to the ANZAC biscuit was when I visited my friend, Kell, in Sydney. She placed her hand on the cookie jar and said in her delicious Aussie accent, “Jen, I’ve got some ANZAC biscuits here if you’d like to have some.” There was no sign of chocolate and they sounded interesting – this cookie was sent to those in the Australia New Zealand Army Corps during World War I, because it wouldn’t spoil on the long trip to the soldiers. I forgot about them until day 2, and I could have sworn she put crack in those cookies.
what’s really in an anzac biscuit: butter, flour, oats, coconut, sugar, golden (or light corn) syrup, salt, baking soda
mix the dry ingredients together
All these years, I never endeavored to make ANZAC biscuits at home because I assumed Jeremy wouldn’t like them. For one thing, they don’t have chocolate. Secondly, he doesn’t really like coconut. But on April 25 of this year, my calendar had ANZAC Day marked. The idea buzzed in my head for several weeks until I finally made a batch. My plan was to give them away to the neighbors.
melt the butter and the golden syrup (i used light corn syrup)
pour the baking soda into the boiling water
stir the baking soda water into the butter mixture
I didn’t give any cookies to the neighbors because Jeremy ate them (the cookies, not the neighbors). He didn’t just eat the cookies, he kept telling me over and over how much he loved these cookies. Recently, I made another batch because I wanted to bring cookies to my friends in town, but I was out of eggs. This recipe doesn’t require eggs, which probably helps to extend the shelf-life. I wasn’t sure these guys would go for it, but they were surprisingly receptive.
mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients
flattening dough balls onto parchment
The secret hero is most likely the coconut. The cookie has a crunchy exterior and chewy, soft interior. It’s buttery, but has a nice and meaty texture from the coconut and oats. I find they are best eaten the day they are baked. In our arid environment, they become rock hard within a couple of days. I warned my friends about this storage issue when they sampled the cookies. Both of them looked at me and said, “That isn’t going to be a problem.”
they might surprise you
2 cups (280g) all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups (180g) old-fashioned rolled oats
1 1/2 cups (375g) sugar
1 cup (85g) unsweetened shredded coconut
3/4 cup unsalted butter
2 tbsps (40g) Lyle’s Golden Syrup (I used light corn syrup)
3/4 tsp baking soda
6 tbsps boiling water
Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine flour, oats, sugar, coconut, and salt in a large bowl and mix thoroughly. Place the butter and the golden syrup (I used corn syrup) in a medium saucepan over medium heat and stir until melted. In a small bowl, add the baking soda to the boiling water. Stir the baking soda mixture into the butter mixture and stir to combine. Martha warns that it will bubble up considerably. Stir the butter mixture into the bowl of dry ingredients. Stir or mix until most of the dry mix is incorporated and moist. Roll a heaping tablespoon of dough into a ball and set on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Flatten the ball with your palm just a bit. Repeat, spacing the cookies about 2 inches apart. Bake for 15 minutes or until the cookies turn golden brown (they should be firm, but not hard). Martha recommends rotating the cookie sheet halfway through the cooking time, but I didn’t. Remove the cookies from the baking sheets and cool on cooling racks. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week. Makes 4 dozen.