Friday, September 5, 2008

Kansas City Rising

Sometimes it's good to view your hometown through fresh eyes. Such was the case when I attended a national conference in my own backyard of Kansas City, Missouri. The conference drew travel writers from across the nation, many of whom had never visited the metropolitan area. Over and over again they mentioned their surprise at the vibrant new downtown entertainment venues, great dining, gorgeous art museums, lush green landscape, and welcoming people.

My greatest surprise occurred when I opened the curtains of my 27th-floor, Crown Center hotel room, to find the skyline emerging from dense early-morning fog. It was almost a visual image of Kansas City rising from the past to an exciting present and future, as a world-class tourist destination.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Cinnamon Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

For many years, most cookies I made were too hard and sometimes they even burned. Then I learned to stop baking them when only the edges had turned light brown and they were still soft on the pan. After that, I began experimenting with existing recipes. One cinnamon-flavored family favorite was called 'Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookies' and appeared under the top of Quaker Oats boxes.

But I always seem to tinker with recipes, so I've made loads of adjustments with this one too. The result is less sugary than the original, with butter and oil standing in for margarine, and more fruit and fiber. See what you think about:

Cinnamon Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
makes 5-6 dozen 3-inch cookies

1 stick of butter, softened
1/2 cup of vegetable oil *
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup ground walnuts
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
2 cups uncooked oatmeal, quick or old-fashioned
1 1/2 cups raisins

Heat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit. Combine flour, walnuts, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt and mix well; set aside. Beat together butter, oil, and sugars until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla and beat well. Add dry ingredients and combine. Stir in oats and raisins. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto un-greased cookie sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 1-2 minutes and then remove from pan to wire rack or a countertop covered with foil.

*using olive oil adds fruitiness to the recipe