January 22, 2012

mother-in-law cookies

In relationships, each person usually brings something to the table that enhances the life of the other. A few years ago, I discovered one of Jason's contributions to my life: his mom's oatmeal cookies. I've never been particularly excited about oatmeal cookies in the past, and they're still not what I would pick if given the choice between almost any other cookie. But my mother-in-law's oatmeal cookies? Now that, my friends, is a different story. Janie's cookies are the sort that you cannot stop eating once you start, no matter how hard you try. Jason once described them as little bowls of oatmeal, except they're way better than that.

My mother-in-law and I are different in many ways, and cooking is no exception. I love her dearly. Where I am a kale and saffron risotto kind of girl, Janie is a pot roast and cream of mushroom sort of lady. She makes an amazing pot roast, by the way, that is always always accompanied by mashed potatoes, sweet cinnamon-y carrots, and green beans. Every time. 

I finally got my hands on the oatmeal cookie recipe recently and we attempted to re-create them. I don't know if it's the California climate or the fact that I just can't bring myself to use Crisco, I'm sorry, but I can't do it - but our first batch of cookies was nowhere near as good as Janie's. However, after we chilled the dough while we gave each other pep talks to try again, the second batch was so close! We ate at least 15 cookies in two days! Even though, as my husband lovingly pointed out, his mom doesn't chill her dough.

mother-in-law cookies (aka oatmeal cookies)
makes about 3 dozen small cookies. it's important not to over-bake these, which was one of our mistakes with the first batch. they are mean to be soft, not crispy. the good amount of salt gives lots of flavor.

1 cup raisins
3/4 cup non-hydrogenated shortening (like Spectrum brand)
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup water
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
3 cups quick-cooking oats

Place the raisins in a small bowl, cover them with water to soak, and set aside.

Beat together the shortening and sugars in a large mixing bowl. Add the egg, water, and vanilla. In a separate medium bowl, sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda. Stir in the oats. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined. Drain the raisins and stir into the cookie dough. Chill for at least two hours.

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Drop the dough by the tablespoon onto a greased cookie sheet or one lined with a baking mat. Bake for 11 minutes; do not over bake. The cookies should be just lightly golden and they will continue cooking on the pan as they cool.

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