Sunday, July 6, 2014

Sharing Life's Simple Pleasures

Sharing life's simple pleasures entails spending time with family members doing things that build on our memories together. One of my new goals since completing the recipe collections is to spend more time cooking, especially with my grandchildren.

This weekend our oldest granddaughter (age 6) spent three nights. On the second night, after a fairly warm day, it cooled down enough that we could bake some cookies. This called for my favorite recipe which has been enjoyed by family and friends since my teenage years.

Here is the recipe and then the events that lead to a successful experience:

Oatmeal-Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 c. flour
1 t. salt
1 t. soda
1 c. soft butter or shortening
¾ c. granulated sugar
¾ c. brown sugar
1 t. vanilla
2 eggs
2 c. uncooked oats
1 12oz. Pkg. Chocolate chips
Heat oven 375.
Cream butter, sugars, vanilla and eggs. Add flour, soda and salt. Slowly stir in oats and chocolate chips. Drop by teaspoon on greased cookie sheet. Bake 10-20 min.
Variation: ½ c. butterscotch chips, ½ c. coconut. Makes about 30 cookies.

We started about 8 pm and got a chair for her to stand on, a large mixing bowl and assembled some ingredients. For creaming the butter and sugars we placed them in the large bowl. We wanted to use the pastry cutter, but it was nowhere to be found, so she used my mother's old potato masher. It is the kind with a metal ribbon pattern on the bottom. She did very well using this tool. In went the vanilla, but when we went to get some eggs it was discovered that we were out of eggs.

Off to the store we went and got the eggs and about $40 more worth of groceries, none of which were needed for the cookies. On the way home it came to me that we might not have oats, but figured we could use instant oatmeal if nothing else.

It was after 9 pm by the time we were back home and adding the eggs. We put in the flour, salt and soda, sprinkling them around the bowl. She continued to mash the ingredients together. We found enough of the required oats and added them. She was a little unsure about having oatmeal in her cookies, even though it is one of her favorite breakfast foods. Then when we went to get the chocolate chips we discovered that there was just the amount we needed for the recipe. There was a huge sigh of relief at this moment, and we made a mental note to check all ingredients before we start the next time.

At this point the surprise moment came when we stopped mixing with the potato masher and she learned my most important secret. We washed our hands well and then started mixing the ingredients by hand. The key is to combine all the items into a smooth, round ball, wiping the sides of the bowl to gather the stray parts. She absolutely loved this part and was sure her mother would never let her do such a thing.

By 9:30 pm we had the oven preheated and were placing the dough on the greased cookie sheets with teaspoons. She scooped up the dough and my job was to make sure there was enough for each cookie to be a decent size. We ended up with two cookie sheets with fifteen cookies on each, as it was too hot to bake any longer than we had to.

The next important secret was to let the cookies bake just until they were a light golden brown around the edges. They may look slightly undercooked, but after sitting for a few minutes they become more solid. We carefully moved them to the wire racks to finish cooling. Then we each ate a cookie and shared one with Grandpa. She was very proud of her cookies and found them to be very tasty. Both her uncles came in to claim a few, and we packaged up some for her to take home to her family.

These are not the type of cookies you risk setting out unattended. Quite frankly, I can't even remember the last time we made this recipe. By not using the nice mixer we have, it was a much more hands on approach. We now have plans to try a new recipe every time she comes to spend the night. By making a small batch we can guard against having too many sweets. Putting some in the freezer is a possibility, but that is seldom necessary in our home.

Sharing life's simple pleasures often means we need to slow down, and do some things together. Prioritizing those activities and/or events in our lives is important. When was the last time you cooked something with one of your children or grandchildren? You will be creating family history memories and may want to write about the impact of your time together.

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