In making these cookies, I came to several essential conclusions about both my grandmother and great-grandmother. They either had memories like elephants (yes, I know that phrase doesn’t hold-up in the court of science), or they had a lot of time to start at the stove. These women wrote nothing useful down, except what they needed to put into a recipe. No cook time. No oven temperature. Cream the butter? Who knows! Only Barbara Ann and Opal Ester. And if they plan to come back in ghost form, it is apparently, not going to be to help me navigate their kitchen practices.
Eager to avoid another Apple Cake pan debacle, I perused the recipe and discovered “raisin water”. Now, I like to cook, but I am not a natural baker (bakers are like mad scientists!), so I did what all reasonable people do and googled, where I learned something new. For years, I have just been dumping raisins into cookie batter and calling it a day. You can still do that, but if you soak the raisins in hot water for a minute or two, it plumps them up for baking and makes the cookie more moist.
Pro Tip: Soak the raisins, it is worth it!
The cookie recipe also had some sort of frosting pie recipe on the back. While it seemed unlikely that one would frost an oatmeal cookie, I got the stuff for it, just in case I tried the cookie, and it did indeed, need frosting. Surprise, it didn’t! Grammy just ran out of index cards, and DOUBLE SURPRISE did not write down that the two were unrelated. Frosty Secret will have to wait another day! (The name of that recipe sounds questionable on a number of levels, no?).
Anyway, armed with the brilliance of google, I started in on the cookies, she did not say whether to chop the dates, but I did it anyway. It turns out, I read too quickly, because it did not call for nutmeg, but nutmeat. I had no idea what the hell that meant, so I just added nuts and made a mental note to google that later.
Pro Tip: The dates make this recipe, don’t skip ’em. In fact, if I make it again, I would use seven dates, not five or six.
I then decided that 350 would be a good place to start with these cookies, for about 10 minutes. And then I sat and watched the oven, because unlike my foremothers, I don’t have anything memorized and I have no clue how these things bake out. Turns out, that is about the right timing. Before moving forward, I decided to do a quality control check and try *a* cookie. You know, just in case it tasted different than the massive quantities of cookie dough I consumed. It did not. But, I decided to add a pinch more spice to the recipe.
Pro Tip: This recipe should have used nutmeg, so I added a pinch of it, and a tiny bit more salt.
Verdict, are they the pretties cookies in the world? No. Are they the most comforting of comfort Cookies? Absolutely! (At least according to my coworkers, who are my unknowing guinea pigs). Mrs. Jeffery’s, whoever you are, your cookies are delightful. Thanks for the recipe.
PS: Embarrassingly, I also had to google what margarine was! I couldn’t remember if all oil-based spreads counted or if it was a special kind of spread. Have a cackle at my expense. Trust, I laughed at me, too!