The phrase “do it right the first time” is especially relevant for dealing with food cravings.
If you want a cookie, don’t pretend, don’t justify, don’t explain, don’t wait. Eat the damn cookie. And don’t eat anything that just pretends to be a cookie or pretends that it is a virtuous cookie; you will have to eat twice as many to get any real satisfaction, then you’ll eat the cookie you wanted anyway.
Let’s face it; most cereal bars are cookies masquerading as health food. So many of them contain an incredible variety and amount of sugars (high fructose corn syrup, dextrose, sucrose, etc, etc, ad nauseum) and weird processed ingredients and preservatives packed into in incredibly small and – to me – unsatisfying, serving sizes – bars the size of a couple of my fingers – and they still get to say things like: “heart-healthy” or “0% saturated fats” on their tidy foil wrappers. Really.
So, rather than futile attempts to make homemade cereal bars that would somehow be more virtuous, me and Leandro just make sugar-laden cookies that don’t pretend to be anything else.
Don’t let the oatmeal, nuts and fruit fool you: this is a sweet treat with plenty of sugar and butter, with tartness, chewiness and crunch to keep it interesting. Eat too many and you will get a tummyache. Eat them frequently and you will get fat. But make them every so often, pass on a few to neighbors, colleagues or the other people who make your life liveable, save a few for yourself to dunk in milk or tea or coffee and everything will be alright.
The recipe is an adaptation of the classic “Quaker Oats Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookies.” I dedicate it to Canadian comedienne Andrea Martin, (very) late of SCTV and recent of kid’s program, Dino Dan, where she looks weirdly young and smooth-skinned, with what appears to be a surgically modified schnozz, but who is as kooky and loveable as ever as the bizarrely attired art teacher who gets tends to get lost in her “creative zone.” Here is why she gets the dedication: My son — who loves Dino Dan and everyone in it — turned to me the other day and said, “When we bake you and me are in the same creative zone, right Mommy?” and everything felt right with the world.
Oatmeal, Raisin, Cranberry, Walnut Cookies
½ Cup plus 6 Tbs butter, softened
¾ firmly packed brown sugar (I like to mix dark and light brown, but use whatever is on hand)
½ cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 ½ Cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp salt
3 Cups quick or old-fashioned oats
½ Cup raisins
½ Cup dried cranberries
¾ Cup coarsely chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugars until blended and kind of creamy (I don’t have an electric mixer – yet—so I just use a big fork). Add eggs and vanilla and beat well. In a separate bowl combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Then add the oats and the fruit and nuts and mix well until all the oats are damp.
Drop rounded tablespoons of dough on ungreased cookie sheets and bake for 10-12 minutes or until light brown. After a minute cooling on the baking sheets, move the cookies to wire cooling racks and cool completely. Store in tightly covered containers.