Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Grandma's Oatmeal Cookie Mix

I've got some great cookbooks on my shelves, some beautiful, some practical. But in amongst Chez Panisse: Fruits and Cook's Illustrated hides the treasure of my collection: a stained paperback with a plastic brown binder. It's Family Recipes: Sharing Our Roots from a 1990 family reunion at Maplewoods Farms.

It's fun to skim and sample the offerings of my aunts and uncles and cousins, but this book goes beyond fun. It holds meals from my childhood, recipes from my grandmother Martha. She died when I was a baby, but I know her through her food.

(page 55) I picture Dad cracking eggs into fried rice while mom and I mix the sauce for eggrolls: hot mustard powder and water to dab into a teacup of thinned plum jelly.

(pages 70-71) I remember the smell of onions browning for arroz mexicana and mashing the pinto beans for frijoles fritos.

Page after page of memories. And after each one of these storied recipes, her directions and her name.

Martha was a collector and creator of recipes, including this oatmeal cookie mix. In a short-lived entrepreneurial jaunt, my sister-in-law and I used this mix as a base for a successful line of quart-jar cookie mixes. When I was a kid, I would sneak a spoonful of dry mix right out of the container. These memories lead me to suggest that if you have a food processor, or lots of people to help cut in the shortening, try doubling the recipe.

Grandma's Oatmeal Cookie Mix
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup shortening
3 cups rolled oats

Sift flour, baking soda, sugar, baking powder, and salt together into a large bowl. Cut in shortening until it resembles corn meal (a food processor makes quick work of this step). Add rolled oats. This makes a double batch of cookie mix. Store in an airtight container. I recommend using the mix within 3 months.

To make 2 dozen cookies:

1 egg
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups cookie mix

Preheat oven to 375ºF. Beat egg, milk and vanilla together. Add cookie mix and stir until combined. Drop by teaspoonfuls on cookie sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes.

Add any of the following to a batch:
1/2 cup chopped nuts (the original recipe uses the lovely phrase nutmeats)
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup coconut
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1 teaspoon cinnamon and pinch nutmeg

I hope you enjoy these, and leave you with this quote. I read it and re-read it whenever we had taco night, and I love that my aunts copied it into this collection:

"A la mejor cocinera se le va un tomate entero - the best of cooks will sooner or later pull a boner."


  1. I love that you wrote this Laura! Mine is deeply stained and much loved also. xoxo

  2. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a note, Anna - it was sweet of your mom to send it out to everyone :). Best to you!