Monday, September 26, 2011

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies: Who Have You Hugged Today?

Most of you probably know that October is breast cancer awareness month. Now, I know it's not October yet, but it's pretty darn close, and I think this post is deservedly a bit early.

I got a call at work early last week telling me that one of my best friends from home had just lost her mother. My friend's mom has been battling breast cancer for about six years, and there have been a lot of ups and downs along the way. I've often felt powerless watching the toll it's taken on my friend and her younger sister, yet at the same time been amazed by her mother's incredible strength--when a few of us pitched in to cook their family a week's worth of meals and hopefully ease the burden a bit, her mom invited us all inside to serve us tea, strawberries, and cream, entertaining us when we'd come to lend her a hand. She was an amazing, vibrant, faith-filled woman, and I can only hope that there is some larger plan at work in the universe that explains why she was taken from her family so soon.

After having been at home for the viewing and funeral, I found myself really reflective and, quite frankly, in need of some solace. Baking has always been weirdly therapeutic for me--the formulaic recipe steps, the physical motions involved in incorporating ingredients, the transformation of distinct parts into a new whole, and, of course, getting to indulge in the results. And what I really wanted this week especially was oatmeal raisin cookies.

(Oh, did I mention I got to use my KitchenAid stand mixer for the first time?!?! Adding to the magical comforting power of these cookies was the fact that I flipped the switch, turned around, and BAM! instant cookie dough. I feel like the way people must have when they realized they could use electricity and stop chopping firewood. I'll lose bicep mass...but so worth it.)

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
(slightly adapted from the Quaker Oats Vanishing Oatmeal Cookies recipe)

**Note: I halved this recipe, since I knew I didn't need four batches (the original recipe makes about 40 cookies). If you're in the market for lots o' cookies, feel free to double up again.

7 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/8 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup raisins

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugars on medium speed until smooth and creamy.
3. Add egg and vanilla, mix to incorporate.
4. In a separate, smaller bowl, whisk to combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.
5. Add these dry ingredients to the wet mixture; continue mixing to incorporate.
6. Add oats and continue to mix.
7. Finally, add raisins (I turned my mixer down to low to add these, since the dough was starting to get a bit thick and I didn't want to overwhelm the paddle attachment with the addition of the raisins).
8. Drop dough in rounded teaspoonfuls on ungreased cookie sheet.
9. Bake for about 8-10 minutes, or until edges start to brown. (I pulled mine just before 8 minutes was up--I like my cookies a little underdone, especially when they're oatmeal.)

My mom and I share a similar love of oatmeal raisin cookies, mostly because they might be the best cookies to dip in a warm, comforting cup of tea. These cookies aren't fancy or complicated or even that original--all I did was tweak a few ingredients and proportions on the recipe for Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookies that comes on the lid of the Quaker Oats can. But to me, they're the equivalent of a warm cookie hug. And we all need one of those once in awhile, you know? So hug your mom, and if you're so inclined, please say a prayer for or send a positive thought in the direction of my friend, her family, and her mom. And enjoy these cookies, preferably with a cuppa and some good TV.
As a p.s., thank you so much to everyone who has commented, tweeted, or otherwise sent along well wishes for Charlie! He is doing much, much better, and (knock on wood), I think he's made tons of progress on the road to a full recovery. Hopefully he'll be dancing again soon!


  1. Nothing better than a kitchenaid mixer, makes everything so quick and easy! Love oatmeal cookies, these look so great!

    It's so nice of you to cook for your friend's mom!

  2. Love oatmeal raisin cookies. It is just the perfect combo isn't it. Your so sweet and you reminded me there is a lady who has breast cancer I know who I could make a batch of cookies for. Thanks girl

  3. You're right, oatmeal raisin cookies are such a comforting food. I'm glad you got to use your KitchenAid, I just love mine, I don't know what I did without it before! Well, yes I do, hand mix. And that's not that fun, ha.

  4. I love my kitchenaid mixer! Technically it's on loan, but I'm keeping it as long as I can! Yummy cookies!

  5. Those cookies look incredible. And I would be absolutely lost without my Kitchen Aid Standmixer! BEST thing in the kitchen by far!

  6. I'm sorry for your friend's loss. And you are right, baking is great therapy! These cookies look lovely.

  7. My mom loves oatmeal raisin cookies. I need to make her these and give her an extra big hug. Thanks for the inspiration. :)

  8. Baking can be a great way to distract your mind from life's hardships, and a great way to comfort others with something sweet. These cookies look delicious.

  9. That's really nice of you. And you're right - it's never too early to start "observing". My sister-in-law is almost finished with her long road of chemo, radiation and surgeries after being diagnosed in April 2010. We're hoping she stays in remission forever. Such a horrible disease!

  10. Baking heals all pain. You made the right choice.
    Also, your blog title is, quite possibly, the best ever in the whole world ever in my life. Possibly.


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