Don't get me wrong, I adore Florida and at my advanced age and state of deterioration...I'd probably have to LIVE wrapped up in a Leopard Print Snuggy with some of those thermal socks that you heat in the microwave were I to move any further north than Savannah Georgia. However, I have fond memories of raking the leaves in my grandmother's yard into an enourmous mound and then diving into them over and over.
I was the only granddaughter in a family full of stinky old boys and I lived in a fantasy world where I was the princess with fall leaves stuck in her flyaway hair and the aroma of burning leaves clinging to her clothes as she comes in for a slice of apple pie or a couple of granny's oatmeal cookies.
There is a song by Nora Jones that always makes me think of myself as a little girl. "Spinning, laughing, dancing to her favorite song, a little girl with nothing wrong is all alone. Eyes wide open, always hoping for the sun and she'll sing her song to anyone who comes along. Fragile as a leaf in autumn just falling to the ground, without a sound. Crooked little smile on her face tells a tale of grace thats all her own. Fragile as a leaf in autumn just falling to the ground without a sound. Spinning, laughing, dancing to her favorite song, she's a little girl with nothing wrong and she's all alone."
The first time I ever heard that song, I could see myself doing a clumsy piroutte on my grandmother's front walk beneath the the huge oak with it's burnished golden leaves and in my mind...I was Dancerina Ballerina...my favorite doll come to life. My grandmother was taking my picture with one of those old box cameras. Her pictures were always headless!
So the other day, I had this brilliant idea to make my own fall tree! I dragged out the smallest of my four Christmas trees and put it up in the front hallway. My mother and I covered it with orange pumpkin string lights, silk fall leaf garlands, asters, sunflowers, chrysanthamums, fall fruit and vegetable picks and mini scarecrows. It's adorable! I set my scarecrow beaneath the tree and then put a lighted pumpkin beside him. Now...it may be 98 degrees in the shade outside...but inside my house, it's autumn! I changed all my candles to spiced pumpkin, caramel apple and vanilla too.
Of course, you know I love to bake. I try very hard to make my baked goods as healthy as possible. Anytime the word "bran" gets bantered around though...I am accused of trying to feed my dear husband "sticks and leaves." He really is ridiculous since I happen to KNOW he's going to eat ANYTHING that doesn't eat him first (except broccoli rabe or brussel sprouts). Oddly enough, hes not the only bran-a-phobe out there though. There are still quite a few people who think bran is the sustenance of the over 80 set and Yule Gibbons. I'm here to tell you it isn't!
Necessity can be the mother of invention or the mother of all messes...so when you start making a recipe, its usually advisable to make sure you have all the ingredients. I didn't...of course! Basically, I had a box of Fiber One Bran Cereal...you know the one I mean...it looks like twigs and tastes pretty much like it looks. Don't get me wrong...I'm not knocking Fiber One...I love it, just NOT this particular cereal. But I'd already spent the money and there was a recipe on the back of the box for some breakfast cookies so I figured hey..it's not a total loss!
I asked my mother to look over the recipe and she says, "oh yeah, we have everything we need to make these." Great...let's just whip up a batch. By the time I actually take a gander at the box myself, I've already got a whole food processer full of ground up fiber twigs and that's about all. I guess mom wasn't wearing her reading glasses??
I ended up making Spiced Orange Cranberry Breakfast Branola Cookies and they came out wonderful. Pretty good stuff with a cup of my favorite Earl Grey....
2 cups Fiber One Bran Cereal
3 cups organic bran flakes
2 cups organic whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup Xylitol natural sweetener
1/2 cup organic brown sugar
4 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 stick unsalted organic butter, melted
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
3 whole organic cage free eggs plus two egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
zest of one large navel orange
2 cups dried cranberries
- Place the cereal in a zipper bag and crush with the bottom of a skillet. You can do this in the food processor but they tend to whirl around and not really get crushed evenly because they are so light weight. Pour the cereal crumbs into a bowl and add bran flakes, wheat flour, xylitol, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Mix well.
2. In a smaller bowl, beat eggs and egg whites slightly and combine with melted butter. Stir in pumpkin puree, vanilla extract and orange zest. Pour this mixture into the dry ingredients all at once. Stir with a wooden spoon until no dry spots remain. Dough will be very thick. If it seems too dry, you may another egg or more pumpkin puree. Lastly, stir in cranberries.
3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease cookie sheets. I used a 1 ounce scoop to make balls and then flattened with wet fingers. Sprinkle tops with sugar before baking. These cookies don't spread so they may be placed close together on the cookie sheets. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Careful not to overbake or they will get too hard.
This recipe makes about 65 one ounce cookies.
Note: Store cooled cookies in an airtight container with a couple slices of bread. Bran is DRY and it will suck the moisture out of just about anything it comes in contact with. The bread will keep your cookies moist. This works with any type of cookies by the way. Got some chocolate chip cookies that are too crisp? Store with a slice of bread and they will soften up.