Blossoms with Border Resized

Hello All:

Hiking has been on my mind lately. Despite my eagerness to get into the woods, the trails have been too muddy to take on due to a prolonged period of rain in New England. Although that hasn’t stopped some people: yesterday a father and son appeared at the road near our house, coming off the Appalachian Trail covered head to toe in mud and smiles. Their joy infiltrated my mood and caused me to open my eyes to the subtle  variance of colors around me. With eyes wide open I was able to see the clarity of the raindrops on the lovage plant coming up in our herb garden, the shades of pale and rich green of the moss hanging from a fallen tree in the yard, surrounded by quick-silver-like cobwebs in the air, the blossoms in the apple trees and the golden hues of dandelion heads sprinkling the grass in our front yard. Enchanting.

Hiking the hills soon will call for some energy-inducing snacks in our backpacks. For this reason, I created these  Trail Mix Cookies. Filled with butter, chocolate, golden raisins and smoky toasted pine nuts, they are a treat for young and old. Our kids devour them with tall glasses of cold milk. I prefer mine with a bit of sherry, for now, but a bottle of spring water to go with them, when the time comes, will suit me well on the trails in the days ahead.

Thank you to all of you who have begun to comment on my site, both in reply to my emails and directly on blog posts. I love your warm feedback and I hope you will keep it coming. Our conversations sustain me.

I look forward to seeing you in my kitchen, and on the hiking trails, gathering flavors soon.


Gorp Cookies with Ribbon and Border


Yield: 24 Cookies


  • One cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated orange or lemon peel
  • 1 cup sweet cream butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon or orange extract
  • 3 cups oatmeal flakes (uncooked)
  • 2 cups chocolate chips (white, bittersweet or semi-sweet)
  • 1 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • Sea salt 


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. (If you have a convection oven, preheat it to 325 degrees F, convection.)
  2. Line 3 cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the all-purpose flour, salt, baking soda and grated lemon or orange peel. Set aside.
  4. In a large mixing bowl or in the bowl of a standing mixer, beat together the butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until they are fully incorporated. Add in the vanilla extract and orange or lemon extract.
  5. Add in the flour mixture, beating just enough to combine. Then add the oatmeal flakes. Beat to combine, followed by the chocolate chips, pine nuts and raisins. Beat again to combine.
  6. Using a tablespoon or ice cream scoop, drop a large mound of cookie dough on the prepared cookie sheets, spacing them a few inches apart. (The cookies will spread while baking, so you want to be sure they are not too close together.) Sprinkle with sea salt.
  7. Bake until the cookies are crispy and golden about 12 to 15 minutes. Repeat as necessary.
  8. Cool on a wire rack. 
  9. Store the cookies in an airtight container until you are ready to eat them. They also freeze well for later use.


Dena Testa Bray has been writing Gathering Flavors, a culinary blog, since 2011. She is a trained chef & ran a home based cooking school. Dena now designs websites, focusing on work with creative people. You can see her website work at She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and family.