August 13, 2010
It was his PapPap’s birthday, and the Chef suggested we make him oatmeal cookies. “It’s his favorite,” he said. I was stunned he knew this, since I didn’t even know my Dad liked oatmeal cookies. So we got to work early in the morning. The Chef lived up to his name and expertly scraped the top of a measuring cup with a knife to get an even measure of flour, and also counted out the cups of oatmeal. Most of it stayed in the bowl. It was turning into a pleasant morning activity.
I also had to admit I was thrilled to be avoiding a shopping trip, as well as to not be spending money on a gift that my father wouldn’t really like and probably would return (he does that). As I turned the batter over, I started to feel a little guilty about those last two points. It was my Dad’s 65th birthday, afterall. Five years ago for his last “big” birthday the family had helped plan a party around the pool. And now I was giving him cookies. I tried to figure out whether we still had time to hit the mall. Ughhh.
Of course homemade has its own charm, especially in these recessionary times. Unique, one-of-a-kind items made in home kitchens and workshops are for sale all over the Internet. People make their own beer, can their own veggies.
But what if what you are making at home isn’t all that great? One of the reasons I let my kid cook is that he is very often better at it than me. I’d only made oatmeal cookies a few times before, and on this day we were improvising a recipe because we were out of eggs. The first sheet of cookies out of the oven were flat and overdone, with crispy burnt edges.
Have you ever had the oatmeal cookies at Starbucks? Those are seriously yummy cookies, soft and chewy with a nice spice to them. I have no idea what makes those Starbucks treats so soft, whether it’s skilled baking or the deceptive magic of artificial flavors and preservatives. I do know that our cookies were made with just the good stuff: lots of butter, flour, rolled oats, sugar, etc. Plus tender loving care. And a few drops of spit from the Chef’s licked fingers that went back in the batter. At least we know whose spit it was. Does that make it good enough, though, especially when a perfect cookie can be had for a few dollars along with a Grande Latte?
I asked the Chef how he knew PapPap liked oatmeal cookies best. And he told me a story from a full year ago when we were all at a fundraising walk together, and how his grandfather kept going back for more free oatmeal cookies. The Chef thought that was pretty funny, and apparently so did the guy giving out the free cookies. It was beautiful to me that my son remembered this moment with his grandfather. So that sealed the deal – PapPap was getting cookies, perfect or not. I suppose my gift to my Dad was helping his grandson do this special thing for him. And maybe in some way the universe was better off for a mother and son having a great morning baking, instead of dragging themselves to a shopping center to buy running socks.
I made sure my Dad knew who deserved the credit for the cookie idea, and he seemed touched. With all that butter, the cookies even tasted good.
Recipe: We used the recipe on the Quaker Oats container, adding a bit more baking soda and liquid to make up for the missing egg, plus extra cinnamon.