Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The lost the art of sharing and caring.

Everyone knows that no one cooks as well as “Mom”.  Before I met my husband I thought I knew how to make oatmeal raisin cookies, but it’s apparent that I could not have been more wrong.  When I bake cookies,  the peanut gallery (1) (also known as my husband) asks “Are you going to make the oatmeal cookies like my mom does?”  I sigh and restrain myself from chucking something at him; all the while knowing that it will be an exercise in futility to attempt to meet his lofty Mom-inspired expectations.  Believe me, I've tried . . . and tried . . . and tried . . .

Flavor is not the issue with my oatmeal raison cookies . . . they taste damn good!  It’s a consistency thing . . . mine are generally kind of crunchy and he wants them chewy . . . just like Mom’s.

So, this year, I broke down and asked my mother-in-law for her recipe.  Her reply, “I don’t really have a recipe.  I just add this that and the other thing.  And then I do this thing and that thing.”   Her actual reply verbatim: 


I have a list of ingredients but no actual recipe. Just cream butter and sugar then add eggs. Sift flour, baking soda and cinnamon together and alternate adding it with the milk. Then stir in oatmeal (I use 1 min. quick oats) and raisins. Drop by heaping teaspoon full on lightly greased trays and bake at 350 until just lightly brown around edges (maybe about 10 min. I forget). 

1 C sugar
1/2 C butter melted
2 eggs beaten
2 C flour
6 T milk
1/2 t baking soda
1 t cinnamon
1 C raisins
1 C oatmeal

Good luck,

My first reaction is – ‘HA! Vindication!’  My second reaction is – ‘Oy . . . this does not bode well for me.’

I love the “good luck” part.  Oy!

I know what you’re thinking . . . the evil mother-in-law is just jerking poor, sweet Cher around by not giving her the secret recipe.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  My MIL is an awesome lady and we get along quite well. 

<--- That's NOT her!  :)

There are some differences between her “recipe” and those I typically make.  One is the variety of oats – I use old fashioned oats and she uses quick cooking oats.   It’s possible that the quick oats make the difference.  Quick oats give a more uniform texture than old-fashioned oat.

Another difference is the addition of milk, just a little.  This will make the dough less stiff.  It also adds some extra fat to the dough and the cookies will be less hard and crunchy when they are done.(2)

Her choice of butter over vegetable shortening is interesting.  Butter tastes better of course! Vegetable shortening adds nothing to the flavor of a cookie. But butter also generally results in a firmer cookie, not as soft and bendy . . . i.e. chewy.  

The reason you might choose to use shortening in a cookie recipe is that it melts at a higher temperature.  Consequently, the dough holds its shape longer in the oven, allowing the flour and eggs to set before the cookie collapses and spreads. Using shortening, which has a melting point only a degree or two above butter, results in a flatter cookie  . . . thus crunchier.

Of course there is no rule that says you can’t use half shortening and half butter.

The following is the result of my effort and the reaction of my husband . . . 

The verdict:  "These are the best yet but they're not quite right".

Oy!  I guess I'll take that as a compliment.  Or maybe not.

Now that the oatmeal cookies have been made, tasted and judged . . . a conversation between my husband and his father  about the fact that  the cookies weren't quite right. . . "Did she use the Kitchenaid to mix them?"  Of course I did.  DUH! I use the Kitchenaid for everything.  "Well, your mother says that they never come out right when she uses her Kitchenaid to make her oatmeal cookies."  Fine time to give me that little tidbit of information.  Sabotage!  It's cookie sabotage, I say!!!!  Nice, I see how it is now.  :-)~

UPDATE: As my sweet husband lovingly, if not more than slightly sarcastically, pointed out . . . the recipe clearly states to "stir" and says nothing about using a Kitchenaid.  A mere technicality but of course it's all my fault . . . such is my life.  They always side with their mommies, don't they?  Hmph!

(1)  A peanut gallery is an audience that heckles the performer. The term originated in the days of vaudeville as a nickname for the cheapest (and ostensibly rowdiest) seats in the theater; the least expensive snack served at the theater would often be peanuts, which the patrons would sometimes throw at the performers on stage to show their disapproval. The phrases "no comments from the peanut gallery" or "quiet in the peanut gallery" are extensions of the name.

(2)  If you add milk to your recipe, make sure the dough is chilled as you drop it onto the cookie sheet.  Also make sure the cookie sheet is room temperature or cooler when you put the dough on it.  If the pan is hot, the dough melts around the edges before it starts to bake, sometimes the edges will burn or get too brown.

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