Today I had some time to myself so I spent part of my afternoon in the kitchen "with" my Grandmother Ruth. I was delighted to find she had a recipe for Oatmeal Cookies in her old green box that looked like it would be quite to my liking.
Having only known Ruth when I was a young child, I allow myself to imagine a lot of things. It's easy to idealize someone after they die, and I try not to do that. I have more of a running list of things I'd ask, especially now that I'm pregnant again. I want to know about her pregnancies and labors, pivotal times in a woman's life. In reality, the closest I can get is what kind of oatmeal cookies she liked, well, so be it.
While I baked, I thought about what I do know about Ruth. She had waited until after World War II to start a family, a somewhat surprising choice for a woman of her era. She was 34 when my mother was born, and 39 when she had my Uncle. I'm not sure what kind of looks she might have gotten as an "older" pregnant mother in those days. I suspect she was secure in herself and didn't care what people thought.
As I age, I hope I'm getting closer to the type of grace that I believe my mother and grandmother had. The kind of grace that brings acceptance and a certain capacity to deal with things head on and get through challenges with poise. I realize now as an adult, that life brings plenty of these opportunities. There will be challenges until the very end, and even that prospect we can face with a certain amount of grace.
So this was my pensive kind of afternoon. But there were also cookies. I am extremely partial to cookies with walnuts, and I will always choose a cookie without raisins. It must be an idiosyncrasy of mine, because I know some people adore raisins in their oatmeal cookies. To me, these are simple and satisfying. I'm hoping they stick around long enough to be packed up for a picnic on one of these beautiful spring evenings. And if they remind me to be graceful, well, all the better.
Makes about 2 dozen
1 cup shortening (or margarine, butter or a combination half/half)
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 cups quick oats (I processed regular oats quickly in the food processor)
3/4 cup Grape nuts cereal or chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon vanilla
Cream together the shortening and sugars with an electric mixer and add one beaten egg.
Sift together the flour, baking soda and cinnamon and add to the shortening mixture.
Then add the oats, grape nuts or walnuts and vanilla.
Chill for one hour in the refrigerator.
Preheat oven to 350.
Roll walnut-sized pieces in your hands, then dip in granulated sugar and flatten as you place on a greased cookie sheet. (Or you can line with parchment.)
Bake for 12-15 minutes.