When I was growing up, my mom had several go-to recipes for meals and snacks. Her homemade spaghetti sauce with ground beef was a common sight at dinnertime, as was her braised pot roast with carrots, onions and potatoes for Sunday dinner. For weekend snacks, I fondly remember eating “pigs in a blanket”, halved hot dogs wrapped in pop-open biscuit dough, dipped into obscene amounts of yellow mustard from that little bottle that looked like a barrel.
My favorite treat that my mom would make, one I remember eating for as long as I have memories of eating, was her top-notch oatmeal raisin cookies. She has the Little Yellow Cookbook, our official name for her cookbook filled with sheets of hand written recipe cards, ideas clipped out of yellowed magazines and newspapers, and recipes given to her from her sisters. This cookbook seemed to be ever-present in the kitchen, though recalling it now, I don’t remember her cooking many recipes from it. It’s one item I hope to one day call my own, as I have lots of good memories of flipping through the book’s plastic pages and marveling at all the time-worn recipes.
This is the recipe for the cookies, in my mom’s perfect block print handwriting. The recipe is originally from a cookbook called Live High on Low Fat, which was originally published in 1962.
The recipe calls for chopped walnuts, which I don’t recall my mom ever using. We weren’t big on keeping walnuts in the house, I suppose. I’m not used to eating them with the nuts, though I’m sure they’d be quite good with them.
mom’s oatmeal raisin cookies
(yields about 3 dozen cookies)
2 c (256 g) all purpose flour
1 1/4 c (258 g) granulated sugar
1 tsp (4 g) baking powder
1/2 tsp (3 g) baking soda
1 tsp (3 g) cinnamon
1 tsp (6 g) kosher salt
1 tsp (5 g) vanilla extract
3 c (272 g) rolled oats
1 c (159 g) raisins
1 c chopped walnuts (optional)
1 c (220 g) vegetable oil
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 c (120 g) milk
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a sheet pan with parchment paper, and set it aside. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Dump in the raisins and the oats and stir them around until they’re well mixed.
In a small ramekin or measuring cup, crack the eggs and stir them with a fork until the yolks are broken, and pour them into the mixing bowl along with your vanilla and the milk. The original recipe didn’t call for vanilla, but I thought it would be a welcome addition. Stir everything together with a wooden spoon until the dough comes together, and there’s no streaks of flour left.
Using two spoons, scoop out a heaping spoonful of dough and use the second spoon to push the dough onto the sheet pan. I was able to fit 15 blobs of dough on one sheet pan without the cookies running into one another too badly during baking.
Put the pan onto the middle rack in your preheated oven and bake them for about 12-13 minutes. After the time is up, the cookies should be lightly browned on the edges and slightly browned on top, and they should not look wet in the centers. When the cookies are out of the oven, remove them from the pan with a spatula while they’re still warm and sit them on a cooling rack while you portion out 15 more cookies and bake them. Once those come out of the oven, there will probably be enough dough left to bake about 6-8 more cookies. When baking these last few cookies, the time may be less, as mine got a little darker than the previous batches.
When I took the first pan out of the oven, I took a bite from one of the cookies while it was still warm, and was flooded with nostalgia. I probably haven’t eaten one of these cookies since I was at least 10 or younger, so it’s been a while! They taste exactly as I remember them, slightly crisp on the outside and soft and pillowy on the inside. Let me tell you, these are perfect when dunked into a glass of milk — even better when your glass is a super cute Garfield mug that came with a Happy Meal promotion from McDonald’s in the early 1980s, like mine did. This mug along with a plate of these soft oatmeal raisin cookies encompasses my childhood to the nth degree. I love these cookies, and I love that Garfield mug. I love you too, Mom. Thanks for the cookies.