A couple of weeks back, inspired by the quiet enclosure of snow falling soft and heavy outside my house and missing my close friend and mother-in-law, Laurel (a righteous believer in making cookies to set the world right), I decided to bake oatmeal cookies from scratch for the first time in 25 years.
Let’s call it nostalgia-induced insanity.
According to my spouse Greg, his mom's cookies are the quintessential stuff of carefree childhood summer memories evoking bare-footed runs down to the lake to cool off after a day riding bikes or little league baseball games in the park. I can personally testify to their power in making adult holiday homecomings very merry. And delicious.
I worship the oatmeal ones. WOR-SHIP. So imagine my surprise when Laurel told me that those little nuggets of sweet and crunchy, gooey goodness were from the generic recipe on the Quaker’s oatmeal box!
Whutttt?! You mean I could have these cinnamon-raisin bites of love-filled warmth any time I want?
LET'S DO THIS!
I got out my mixing bowls and I got out the recipe. Then I gathered ingredients. Sort of.
First up, butter – check! Then ¾ cup softened brown sugar – Ain’t got it! But I saw a thing on the interwebs where you can just use white sugar with 3 TB of molasses. So molasses – Ain’t got it! Pancake syrup it is!
Next up eggs and vanilla – Cool! Got eggs and the good vanilla from Penzey’s. I’m going to put in my Vietnamese Cinnamon too. This fittin’ be GOOD, y’all!
Now I need 1 and ½ cup flour – Ain’t got it! I’ve got ½ cup of flour and I’m going to add a cup of Taro Pancake flour mix that’s been in my cupboard since a souvenir-sending relative visited Hawaii five or six years ago.
Now all I need is 3 cups of oats and 1 cup of raisins. Oats – check! Raisins – Ain’t got ’em! I’m fixin’ to throw in this 1/2 cup of HyVee store brand Craisins that are stuck together from last summer’s humidity and half cup of crumbly walnuts I found on the top shelf behind the saltbox.
Mix this mess uppp … and now all I need to do is drop tablespoon-sized bits of batter on ungreased cookie sheets – which I do not have. Plop on to this pizza pan, babies!
I cannot DESCRIBE to you how DELICIOUS those cookies were. I also cannot describe to you how little resemblance they bore to Laurel’s oatmeal cookies or anyone’s oatmeal cookies or cookies.
They started out as beautiful little blobs of cookie dough on a pizza pan, waiting for the oven heat to transform them into sweet, nutty golden, raisin-y mounds. But when that oven started heating up those blobs started to melt, run, and then mutate all over the surface of the pan.
And they became something … unspeakable.
Delicious as HELL but unspeakably horrific to see. It was like a drunk Swiss came in to our kitchen, stuck his head in the oven, threw up a week’s worth of Muesli, arranged it in even grosser rivulets for baking purposes and then left. Or, like those scenes on CSI: Las Vegas where they show you how a dead body decays in fast motion.
But they smelled like somebody dropped a little bit of heaven into Nirvana on the way to Shangri-La.
Greg said, “Quick! Let’s eat some of it before it gets hard. Who knows how long it’ll be edible!”
“Some of ‘IT’?” you’re thinking. Yeah. IT.
All those carefully dropped tablespoons of batter had become one undifferentiated mass of deliciousness, a Borg of mouthwatering yumminess.
So we stood around the oven grabbing and gobbling before we had a chance to think about it. Much like eating live baby octopus.
And, I’ll have you know that it did not turn hard as it cooled off. It just got sweeter and better.
So all day long on that snow day, when the world was ice-white and brittle-bitter outside, my family was saying “Somebody break me off a chunk of whatEVERthehellthatis. I need to feel me some love.”