Cookie of the Month: Going old-school oatmeal

Back in the day, the cookies — dropped from a teaspoon — were softer, rounder and, yes, smaller, and the world was good. I discovered this recently when I revisited a retro recipe for oatmeal cookies.

A wee bit of ground cloves (along with a generous dose of cinnamon) gave the Old-Fashioned Oatmeal Cookies, from the 1963 “Betty Crocker’s Cooky Book,” ideal flavor. I decided after making these that an oatmeal cookie should really always include cinnamon, yes, but also cloves. For sure.

Another little note that made these old-school cookies a grade above…the raisins are plumped beforehand and the liquid is used to give the cookies a little more moist juiciness.  Today, we just throw in the fruits and nuts without giving them a second thought. But that extra step really spoke to how even simple cookies of yore were given essential complex (but not difficult) steps to make them even better.

These drop cookies (do you hear that expression anymore? Because it was the main term for cookies in my house, growing up) begin with blending/creaming of shortening (I used part butter), sugar (I used a little brown, but mostly granulated as the recipe instructed), eggs and vanilla. Then the cooled raisin plumping liquid is added.

The dry ingredients — flour, soda, salt, baking powder, cinnamon and cloves — are mixed together and added to the wet. I considered the fact that baking powder and soda were on the ingredient list to give these cookies both lift and tenderness.

The oats, raisins and some nuts (I used toasted walnuts) are mixed into the soft, creamy dough. I remembered the many soft doughs of my youth and thought of  the kitchens of many households who made these cookies regularly, cake-y dough/batters that were spoonable (and lick-able). 

I was tempted to go really retro and use a teaspoon to dole out the cookie dough onto the sheets, but went with my smallest scoop for uniformity. The cookies piled up, as I used three large sheets to keep the operation going.

The cookies were small, but plump and rounded and the SMELL! Even hours later, when I came back in the house from doing something out in the yard, the house smelled so delicious — buttery and cinnamon-y and nutty. If one could infuse such an aroma regularly, in most households, the world’s people would be much happier.

{M}aybe this is why cookie-baking used to be  something more regular (like daily or even weekly), so that the cookie jar was always filled to welcome kids home from school with a glass of milk, but also that the house smelled delicious and, well, happy. It was an aim worth reigniting. Biting into the soft, moist cookies, not overly sweet, perfectly spiced with juicy plumped raisins and the crunch of walnuts, and knowing I had about six dozen of these little gems to comfort me as I moved forward, I figured looking back was the way to move forward.

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