Last weekend, before going to visit my brother for Thanksgiving weekend, he texted me this picture and asked, “Could you make these?” with my niece while I was there:
I immediately recognized my mom’s handwriting. Her loss still lingers in our family. Anyone who says a family member’s death gets easier over time is a liar or a cold, soulless person. It sucks. Every day you’re reminded of things that hurt. This recipe was one of those things that bring back happier memories. School lunchboxes, after school snacks or watching weekend cartoons. A cookie makes it better.
I didn’t hesitate in wanting to make these. Of course, being the way I am now, I changed the margarine to butter because I agree with this:
I also decided to double the recipe because my niece was going to a friend’s birthday party later that day and wanted to take extra. It was also an opportunity to teach her step by step how to make cookies without any fancy kitchen equipment. No mixers. No whisks. Just a bowl and a fork to whisk, with a wooden spoon to fold in the ingredients as the cookie dough tightened up. Just like my mom used to do it.
I gave visual and aural cues throughout, like when creaming together the butter and sugar, look for the sugar to be fully incorporated and listen as you mix. When the sugar is fully incorporated you shouldn’t hear a sandy noise against the bowl. When whisking with a fork, you’ll hear what sounds like sand scraping the bowl. When it’s fully creamed, it will just sound like smooth butter whipped against the bowl.
Slow down. Don’t let a machine do it all. Bring back the human element. It makes it taste better.
Mom’s Oatmeal Raisin Cookies:
1/2 cup butter, softened to room temperature
3/4 cup brown sugar (I’ve used both light brown sugar and dark brown sugar. Both are great)
1 large egg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup flour (I’ve used both all purpose flour and Red Fife heritage wheat flour. Both are great)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup rolled oats (both quick oats and traditional oats work well)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional, doesn’t affect texture, so if you don’t like nuts or are allergic it’s ok to omit)
1/2 cup raisins, chocolate chips or other dried fruit (I did a mix of raisins and dried cherries)
1/4 cup milk
Preheat oven to 180C/350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl add the butter and brown sugar. Whisk together until smooth and no longer granular. Add the egg and whisk until smooth and lighter. Add the vanilla and whisk to combine.
Add half of the flour mixture and whisk together. At this point, as the dough thickens, you may need to switch from a fork to a wooden spoon. Once half of the flour mixture is incorporated, add the other half and stir to combine. Add half of the rolled oats and stir it in until uniformly combined. Add the rest of the oats and stir to combine. Add the raisins and walnuts and stir to combine.
At this point, the oats start to really absorb moisture and the dough is very tight. Add the milk to loosen the dough enough to be an easily spoonable dough.
Spoon the dough in rough 2 Tbsp portions (you could use a portioning/ice cream scoop if you want, but just using a regular spoon is fine). Leave about 5cm/2″ in between balls of dough to accommodate spreading as it bakes. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes or until starting to go lightly golden along the edges. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely on the pan. Makes 25-30 cookies depending on how big you spoon them.
Get some milk and be a child!!