"go build your bridges", my mum wrote to me in an email recently. there's a bridge quite near where we live, across the region where two rivers meet. the traffic is usually moving slow, you have plenty of time to look around. on one side you look towards the town, it's one of the worst in the area, there are small houses that are black from the constant car fumes and there are only a few old barges anchored to a rotting metal quay. On the other side you look towards the heart of the Norfolk broads - flat and green, the river snaking through in a blue gray ribbon. the water's dotted with white sails, an occasional mill stands guard over a meander. the bridge itself is nothing special. some kind of vaguely brutalist structure with a bit of bauhaus, a white arch, metal suspenders, the kind that opens when big boats pass through. but we put a lot into each bridge we build. the bricks of connection, the mortar of motivation.
some bridges are just that. some kind of a structure to get us through something, a simple crossing over some difficult terrain. almost selfish really, you see your end destination, the bridge gets you there. you're on the other side at new pastures, you burn the bridge. but others - others grow. the bridge still gets you over something. but maybe rather than a stream, it's a bridge over a deep ravine, strong enough to hold a cargo train. solid suspenders, a tall structure, never failing. sometimes you build roads coming up to that bridge, maybe starting with gravel but you cross the bridge so many times you end up paving it. and you realise, hey, I'm spending so much time around this bridge I need a little town, a few more roads, you hang a few baskets of flowers on the bridge. then you have a choice. you keep the sturdy bridge, the support that's held you up, that's allowed you to reach the greener pastures on the other side, but that's always let you come home when you need it. you keep it, or you burn it.
I'm always burning bridges. often get as far as hanging the pretty flowers then one way or another, find a reason to light the match. when it's a bridge that connects two towns it's hard to choose one side, to watch it fall, so stand among the rubble, wonder whether you should put it back together. do you find that more and more your bridges never get that far? that you pour the diesel and light the match just after you build the structure - that you never really wanted the towns, you simply needed the bridge to get to the other side. you mow through your pasture, you build the next bridge, you burn it. the bridges I built and tried to keep when I was younger seem to give in to age. that the bridges I build now are built with the pure purpose of crossing over, finding something better, getting myself to greener pastures. We all do it. take on a job, cross over, find a better job, burn the bridge and leave it. we leave the rubble and pick up the next brick, find another place to put it down.
cookies could be pretty useful for building bridges and could make you feel a whole lot better after you've burnt one. and these little oaties are just so good! like oatmeal cookies, only better, full of chewy nutty bits, a little bit of apple-y texture and of course chunky oats. As I mention in the recipe notes, I used spelt flour but I'm sure that as a gluten free option almond meal will work with its high protein and absorbency. they'll make your whole kitchen smell amazing, so uplifting on these rainy days. I do apologize for the abundance of apple recipes but seasonal fruit is scarce in England now and I have a thing for baking with fruit... so you know where this is going. hope you all stay dry and that you'll a share cookie, whatever the state of your bridges. xo
APPLE + HAZELNUT OATIES
makes 10-12 medium cookies // dairy free + easily gluten free
2 1/2 tablespoons (37g) extra virgin coconut oil, room temperature
2 tablespoons (3oml) pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large apple, coarsely grated (with skin is fine)
1/3 cup / 50g raisins
1 free range egg, beaten in a small bowl
scant 1/2 cup/ 50g whole spelt flour*
1/2 cup / 50g rolled oats
1/3 cup / 40g hazelnuts, coarsely chopped**
1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
preheat the oven to 180’C or 350’F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
set a small pan over medium heat and add the coconut oil and maple syrup, let the oil melt and combine with the syrup. Once the oil is melted, add the grated apple and cook, stirring, for 6-7 minutes till softened
once the apple is soft & cooked, stir in the raisins and vanilla. set aside to cool
combine the flour, chopped hazelnuts, oats and cinnamon in a large bowl and mix to combine.
add the wet apple mix to the dry mix and add the beaten egg to the large bowl. gently fold the mixes together till the dough becomes chunky and moist.
using a medium (1.5 tablespoon) cookie scoop, scoop out balls of dough on the cookie sheet. flatten them gently and don’t worry about leaving much space between, they don’t really spread.
bake 16-18 minutes, till the cookies are slightly golden. allow to cool on a cooling rack and enjoy.
the cookies will keep for around 4 days stored in an air-tight container in the fridge.
*as I said above, to make these gluten free, I’d recommend using 1/2 a cup (50g) almond meal in place of the spelt flour, and just make sure you use certified gluten free rolled oats. if you’d like bigger cookies, feel free to use a larger scoop and bake them a little longer.
** I used blanched hazelnuts since that’s all I could find, but you could use skins too, they will just make the nutty flavor much more pronounced. not necessarily a bad thing.
Adapted from BBC Good Food.