Monday, December 7, 2015

Moving Towards Sunday Funday on a Funship - Big Fat Oatmeal Cookies with Pumpkin Spice Chips and Dried Cranberries

Lately, I keep asking myself the question, knowing what I know now, would I still have gastric bypass surgery? Not a day has gone by in the past 12 years, 6 months, and 5 days that I have not had some sort of trouble with food. Sometimes, even chocolate doesn't stay down. (For some reason, pickled herring gives me no trouble whatsoever.)

My entire life has been centered around food, and the surgery brought some profound changes to an otherwise happy relationship. I cannot eat 95% of what I cook. I became lactose intolerance. My tolerance for alcohol is practically nonexistent. Eating out in a restaurant is no longer fun; I cannot eat pizza or pasta or prime rib or even salad, which I dearly love. Speaking in general terms, my digestive system does not function normally. Long before fibromyalgia screwed up my life, I had daily pain, sharp and nasty. I keep bottles of Ranitidine (Zantac) in my purse, and almost every room in the house.

On the other hand, I could see my weight continuing to spiral upwards, bringing with it all the nasty co-morbidities of obesity, like diabetes, heart disease, and knees that go 'crack' in the night, not to mention emotional anguish. I can shop in the regular ladies department now. I can climb stairs and walk without falling down, which I did at least once a week. I can take a seat on an airplane without being mortified.  I no longer hide behind my son in family pictures. I own a bathing suit, and I do wear shorts ... if I'm on a cruise ship.

Speaking of cruise ships, that is exactly where Rob and I are heading. I'm already debating what sort of sandwich I am going to have once we reach the deli on Lido deck. Traditionally it has been bagel, lox and cream cheese, but I may change my luck.

Yesterday was a nice send-off to our vacation, starting with my Tai Chi class, dinner at Morimoto's Asia in Disney Springs, and the series 9 finale of Doctor Who, which made up for last week's dreadful "Groundhog Day" rip-off.  It was the proper send-off for Clara, which after two doctors and three series (British for seasons) she really deserved.

Once on the ship, we fell into our usual routine; lunch at the deli, accompanied by a drink.We toast Bethe and Maurice, grit our teeth through the safety drill (me and Horatio Caine - and Rob, of course - no longer have to climb 4 flights of stair to the muster station, We get to take the elevator, and we are absolved from climbing another 2 flights for the embarkation station), and head back to the cabin while the ship takes off. But holy Mother of God, we were still in Port Canaveral and the ship started rocking and rolling like Elvis on the Ed Sullivan Show! I wear those weird anti-motion sickness wrist bands, so I have no desire to barf, but the constant rocking of the ship has given me a headache. Fortunately I brought a 2 month supply of Advil, so I'll make do.

Tomorrow the ship docks at Freeport, and we'll find a table and chairs out on the patio deck and read, knit, and relax. Tonight though, we came back from dinner and found a surprise had been left in our cabin, along with tomorrrow's schedule and a towel puppy.

Carnival clearly understands how frustrating it is to have been born the day after Christmas, and gave me a birthday present nice and early. Actually, it was for sailing during my birthday month, and because we are Platinum, which in sailing terms is better than Titanium. This is something new, because we've been sailing during my birthday month for years and this is the first time I got a present. Two presents, two gift cards, one for the regular shops and one for the candy store. I'm going to be a kid in a candy store!

Last recipe for the rest of this trip - I snagged some pumpkin spice chips during an earlier trip to Walmart, and ended up incorporating them into this big, fat oatmeal cookie (my favorite type of oatmeal cookie) based on yet another recipe from Camilla Saulsbury's wonderful book. The shortcut here is a cake mix; other than that, this is a "from scratch" cookie.

Big Fat Oatmeal Cookies with Pumpkin Spice Chips and Dried Cranberries

1 - 18.25 oz. package spice cake mix
1/3 cup turbinado sugar
2 sticks butter, softened
2 extra large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
cinnamon and nutmeg, to taste
2 cups quick-cooking oats
1 cup pumpkin spice chips
3/4 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and prepare baking sheets with no-stick spray or silpat (my preference).

Place the softened butter in a large bowl along with the butter, eggs, vanilla extract, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Blend with an electric mixer. Add half of the cake mix and mix for 1-2 minutes until smooth. Add the remaining cake mix and blend until mostly combined.  Add the oats, chips, and cranberries and mix them into the cookie dough with a wooden spoon and/or plastic spatula.

Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup or scoop, portion out 12 cookies on each baking sheet.  Roll each cookie with your hands into a ball, and place back on the baking sheet.  Cookies should be about 2 inches apart.

Bake for 13-17 minutes until the cookies are set at the edges and just barely set in the center when touched lightly with your finger.  Cool for not more than 5 minutes on the baking sheets, then use a metal spatula to move the cookies to a wire rack to finish cooling. The recipe makes about 24 big cookies.

Happy second night of Hanukkah!

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