Growing up, my grandparents (either set) didn't live in the same city as we did, no matter how many times we moved. Yet, each year, time was spent with them at our house and us at their house. No, I didn't get to see them every day, but that is what made visiting with them special. Each visit like Christmas - filled with presents, good food, and lots of love. I was lucky. My grandparents didn't have to become second parents to me and my little brother like so many have had to step in and do so today. Instead, we were able to enjoy our time with them as we should - to be spoiled and then returned to our parents. Atleast that was the theory.
For me, my Nanny's raisin cookies were a staple. Even better than chocolate chip ... and I have had my love affair with the chip of chocolate for *mumblemumble* years, so this isn't just a changing declaration. When Nanny and Papa would come to our house for a visit, there would always be a box of oatmeal cookies that made the trip with them. When we would visit their house, there would always be plenty of cookies while we were there - but still enough to take a box home with us. The perfect cookie in my childhood, they were always soft inside, with that sweet goodness provided from plump & juicy raisins.
As I grew older and moved off on my own, I would often try making them but they never seemed to be quite right. They were too crisp. The raisins were chewy. They dried out too easily. They just never seemed to taste like my Nanny's cookies. I finally dispaired, thinking that it must have been from my Nanny licking her fingers and putting them in the batter. But that so wasn't right because that is something that my Nanny would NEVER have done ... got my fingers smacked enough to know that to be fact! Still I was puzzled ... what was the secret??
There ended up being a couple of them, but the one that struck me the most was not a complicated step at all. It wasn't a technique or a timing ... it was simply a step of proven love. You see, my Nanny always made the cookies ahead of time and froze them in her big old deep freezer. Taken fresh, wrapped with wax paper and put into boxes or big old coffee cans, they were frozen until the trip was made to visit our house or our arrival on their doorstep. That time in the freezer, waiting, did something to those cookies and made them seem even better - making them even softer and tastier than could ever be fresh out of the oven. The step of love meant that these cookies were being prepared special, as a treat for whenever the time would be for us to be together. They weren't thrown together at the last minute. They were thoughtfully baked ahead of time ... and then frozen ... waiting for that moment to share the love of being together with the people that meant the most.
I'm baking these cookies this weekend and while I'm sharing (and munching on) a few right now ... the majority are being nestled between sheets of wax paper and placed in a box in my own deep freezer to be shared in a month or so with those that I love. No ... I'm not a grandmother, but there are people who mean the world to me ... and when I share my Nanny's oatmeal raisin cookies - it will be with them.