Last week Spyros and I made good on an end-of-summer dinner tradition. With vacations over, house guests gone and the fridge restocked, we cooked a vinegary octopus stew—as we do every September—fragrant with red wine and allspice. We ladled it over a short, tubular pasta called kofto in Greek, ditalini in Italian and carried big bowls of it to our dining room table, our last seafood meal of the summer.
Octopus stew is a good way to welcome in September—the spice reminds you that fall is on its way while the sharp vinegar and wine are reminiscent of a summer that may still linger. This vacillation between summer and fall, warm days and cooler ones, is what I like about September. It’s a month in transition between two poles but leans toward the cooler one. This year I find myself looking forward to the cooler days. I want stock my freezer with stews and pies. If I could knit, I’d knit something. I suppose it might be my ‘nesting’ hormones kicking in which, according to my sister-in-law, are real things when you’re pregnant. I know, I haven’t told you yet. Spyros and I are expecting our first child in December—a girl—and we are beyond delighted!
If all goes well, September will mean something entirely different to me in a few years. It will be the start of a new school year for my daughter and perhaps all of my old anxieties about new teachers and peers will return as I see them through her eyes. I’ll worry for her. But I’ll try to help her cope, if she needs it. I’ll teach her to pack her backpack and help her practice the letter sounds. I’ll bake her these Chocolate-Almond Banana Oat cookies, to sweeten her first transition, from a home-based life to a school-based one.
These cookies became my standard breakfast this summer and were inspired by a bag of chocolate-acorn flour cookies my mother-in-law had brought us from Kea. I’d never tried acorn flour before and found the flavor milky and wild. It made very healthy-tasting cookies and I wondered if I could make my own, using ingredients I had on hand. I came up with these. Because of the summer heat, I kept them in the fridge which, I think, made them taste like rich, cold chocolate brownies. They were a delicious yet nutritious treat, which is good for me because my doctor doesn’t approve of sweets during pregnancy. I made another batch, then another a few days after the octopus stew. They may become an all-year tradition in our family.
Chocolate-Almond Banana Oat Cookies
1 1/3 cup quick cooking oats (not old-fashioned)
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons spelt or whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamon
1/4 teaspoon + 1 pinch salt (scant)
1 1/4 cups mashed, overripe bananas (about 4 medium)
1 cup almond butter
¼ cup maple syrup
3.5 oz. (100 g.) chopped dark chocolate (I use a chocolate bar with 70% cacao, but any type should work)
- Preheat oven to 325oF (160oC). Line two baking sheets with parchment or baking paper. In a large mixing bowl combine the quick oats, spelt flour, ground cardamon, and salt.
- Add the mashed bananas, almond butter, maple syrup and mix thoroughly, scraping the bowl from time to time. Stir in the chopped chocolate.
- Drop 1/4 cup-sized amounts of dough onto the prepared baking pans and flatten slightly with a spoon (the dough will not spread while baking). Bake for about 15 minutes or until golden and cooked through. Cool on wire racks.