Here we are, dear reader, in this country, in desperate need of goo. “From sea to shining sea” used to refer to the beauty of the land; now it refers to angst, despair, fear, rage, frustration, isolation, loneliness, and profound exhaustion. And it is likely true that wherever you live it is the same. You might not have an election to deal with, but you likely have illness and death and uncertainty and loneliness stalking you. I offer you this goo by way of saying I wish I could make things better for all of us.
Thus far, dear reader, I have coped by writing and by baking, two time-tested strategies for me. They aren’t working any more. A few days ago, we were bloodied once again through the reports of a terror attack on new babies and new mothers. That was one too many for me, awash as we are in grief and fear.
I’ve been sick, as some of you know. Nothing serious, just enough to keep me from being complacent. I don’t know that I had COVID; we still don’t know if my “presumed positive” son had it. We still don’t know much about COVID. “Don’t know” is the only wisdom we have.
Having seen my family only from a distance, unable to touch them, for two months, I think I have a sliver of understanding of what it might mean to die among strangers in Intensive Care.
I am disgusted and exhausted by the flim-flam.
I’m going to step away from the blog for a few days. Each of us has to find ways to stay human in this very dehumanizing time. I am looking for my ways.
Thanks for being with me in my blog. I worry about all of you and hope you endure.
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
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.