Friday, December 29, 2017

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We're between the Christmas holiday and New Year. Here in the northeast we’ve had our first real cold snap, with a not-so gentle reminder that it’s soon to be another year.  December crackles and shrivels like a dead leaf. 

It’s a time when ancestors are remembered, sometimes in the patterns of light reflecting from 2017’s LED decked Christmas tree, sometimes in the carp-like mouths of Byer’s carolers you got from your Mom, sometimes in the low angle from which the northern sun sends rays into our aging eyes. 

I've had my mother-in-law, Carol Waldron, in mind, along with memories of shared holidays, all fast receding into the distant past. I’ve had something of a celebration for her, in fact. This is done in two ways, both which would probably amuse her. The first, and I’ve already talked about this one, is by wearing her 1970’s coat to the gym or anywhere convention doesn't require anything more than utility.  Despite the best efforts of the beautiful people—and don’t get me wrong—I’m in awe of their skill at self-presentation—I never looked anywhere near that good on my best young day—I still claim the right to wear an old coat sometimes. (Could it be the next frontier on the road to gender equality, the right to not give a damn about appearances?)

I suggested to Chris—who has been enjoying his time in our kitchen (working on his Palmdale Punjabi dinners)-- that he, for a change, try his hand at baking a batch of his Mother’s cookies for the holiday meal. This Christmas, in our case, was minimally attended.  My husband’s brother Nick would come up from Maryland, but he too would remember--and eat too many--of Carol’s cookies. Then we’d all have a sugar-induced spell of recollection about our clan as it was long ago in those long gone days of 20th Century yesteryear.

The recipe is titled Cowboy Cookies—and I think that says as much about the probable time of origin as anything.  The brand new media television thrived on cowboy shows, and boomer kids like me were crazy about Roy Rodgers and Dale Evans.

 (Carol, Springfield, MA H.S. Valedictorian)

Mid-1950’s, when all those educated young women were expected to morph into docile homemakers, Carol, the ex-chemistry major, would bake this recipe by the gross. She did so, too, and far too often, much to the detriment of everyone's waistline, but let no one say she was not enacting "Mom."

 A friend recently tasted one of these cookies and said she thought they were the original Tollhouse© recipe. These are nothing like the now fashionable gigantic, soggy, under-baked and laden with too much everything "cookie" of today. 

Cowboy Cookies deliver a balanced mixture of dough and additive. They are thoroughly baked. Although soft and gooey upon first emergence from the oven, they get even better after cooling overnight, becoming crunchy and buttery crisp along the edges.
 This Christmas, Chris used what we had in the cupboard, substituting about 1/2 cup brown flour for some of the oatmeal, which we’d run out of. And of course, following our taste-buds, we had Hershey’s© Special Dark chocolate chips and local black walnuts from one of the nearby farm markets for the gussying up.  

Cowboy Cookies

Sift together:

2 cups flour
1 tsp. soda
½ tsp. baking powder

In a separate bowl , cream together:
1 cup softened butter
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar

Once that’s fully integrated, slowly beat in two eggs.

Next, combine dry and wet mixtures.

Finally, add 2 cups of oatmeal, a bit at a time, and then work in the (chocolate) chips, nuts of whatever kind. Drop by teaspoon onto greased/parchment cookie sheet and bake for 350 degrees for 15 minutes.  Rack or paper cool. 

(Warning: sugar shock possible with unchecked consumption.) 

Happy New Year!
~~Juliet Waldron

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