In search of story

April 28.19


The news makes me rabid. The endless rain makes me squishy in the head. Aging plagues me. And to make the world an even drearier place, our excellent local art supply store has been bought out and now closed by Michael’s. Another valued small business pulverized.

I dwell in the doldrums. My only hope is cookies. There is no other way to find good in the world.

In my childhood I learned about the good in cookies. Mom and Grandma O’Hern were cookie-bakers. Not that they didn’t bake other things, but they were believers in cookies, and thank goodness. A cookie fits in your hand so much more easily than a piece of pie or cake (though it’s quite possible to eat either from the hand if you aren’t too fussy).

Besides, there was “Raggedy Ann in Cookie Land,” one of my all-time favorite stories. Cookies that walked and talked and lived in a cookie house? You’d think such things would keep me from ever eating another cookie, but it didn’t work like that. It just added to the magic of cookies.

Maybe you also, dear reader, are driven to the doldrums by the news and by trying to deal with losses and worries in your own life. So I offer you my most favorite of favorite cookie recipes, my drug of choice, my portal to Nirvana. It is based on the old (not the current!) recipe for “Vanishing Oatmeal Cookies” on the Quaker Oats lid.


Better-Than-Phoebe’s Oatmeal Cookies

1 C. butter (no substitutes)

1 C. firmly packed brown sugar

1/2 C. granulated sugar

2 eggs

1 t. plus a tiny dribble Penzeys vanilla

1 1/2 C. all-purpose flour

1 t. baking soda

1/2 t. salt

1 t. plus a pinch of Penzeys Korintje cinnamon

a few grinds of fresh nutmeg

3 C. Old-Fashioned Quaker Oatmeal (don’t be generous)

1 C. dark (not golden) Sun-Maid raisins

1/2-1 C. chopped dates (the best are the ones you chop yourself)

1/2 C. Heath toffee bits without chocolate (my grandchildren’s brilliant idea)

Whisk dry ingredients together. Beat butter and sugars, then add eggs and beat some more. Mix in vanilla. Add dry ingredients and mix well, then the oatmeal, raisins, dates and toffee bits. Dough will weigh a ton.

If possible, refrigerate dough at least overnight. Bake at 350 for about five minutes, then turn cookie sheet and bake another four minutes or so, depending on your oven. Cool on wire racks. Makes lots but never enough.


These are called “Better-Than-Phoebe’s” because of the episode of “Friends” wherein Phoebe says her oatmeal cookies are the best so she doesn’t bake them very often because it’s not fair to the other cookies.

I mention brand names so you will know exactly what I use.

If you want really chewy cookies, add coconut. Dark chocolate chips are another acceptable addition. However, such additions risk changing the nature of the oatmeal cookie, and that is unseemly to purists.

Wishing you homemade cookies, dear reader,


6 thoughts on “April 28.19

  1. We’re always on the same wavelength. 🙂 I baked yesterday in the middle of a rainy day, but I made a cranberry cake. I love cookies, and usually make a batch, portion them out with a small ice cream scoop, bake some up, and freeze the rest for other days when all would be lost without a warm cookie with my coffee. Politics in WA and NH is enough to give me a headache. The local news covers all the 20+ candidates running so far as they traverse through the state. I haven’t watched national news in so long I can’t remember, and now I watch the local news once a day with the mute button in my hand in order to maintain my sanity. The sun is shining this morning which amounts to two days in the last week without gray skies and rain pouring down. We’ve moved past mud season into swamp season. 🙂

    • Yes! “The days when all would be lost without a warm cookie” — you nailed it! We are indeed on the same wavelength, and you had to know that I’d laugh out loud when I read that you watch the news with your thumb on the mute button. A cranberry cake sounds like a wonderful antidote to all the toxins in the news — and I bet your kitchen smelled wonderful.

      As to the season, alas, you nailed that too: mud season to swamp season. There is so little light and so much darkness — and so much rain! It just won’t stop! They say that this coming week will bring more of the same. I am wondering when moss will start growing on my forehead.

  2. If it was not just after Easter when I have been forced by my mother and sister to eat chocolate quicker than I would ideally like (…) I would really like a few of these sweet delicacies. I love cinnamon and put a good amount in my porridge. The kind I have is not as scented as I remember from childhood, so I’m intrigued by Penzeys Korintje cinnamon. I don’t know if it is available here, but I could no doubt get it over there. Mine is supermarket bought, but I do take care to get the true cinnamon option, not the cassia or sweet cinnamon, having read it is a better choice if you are planning to eat a good bit, regularly. Mind you the news about what we should and should not eat is not much better than the politics – OK, I take that back!

    • I agree that what we’re told to eat and not eat is about as bad as the politics, but I choose to abide by advice I like and ignore the advice I don’t like. It saves on thinking. As to cinnamon, I bet yours would work perfectly in the oatmeal cookies. I wouldn’t let a brand name stand in the way of oatmeal cookies. EVER.

      I cannot believe your mother forced you to eat that Easter chocolate. Tsk. I hope you have recovered from the trauma.

  3. You are the model daughter.

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