Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Special Ingredient

I've been thinking about my grandparents this weekend. I do that on occasion, such as at dinnertime when I use the bowls that came from my Grandma's own kitchen, mismatched but full of memories of family meals and good cooking. One memory always links to another and gives me brief moments of nostalgia. This weekend, it's not Grandma though ... it's my mom's mom, the one I called Nanny, because this weekend I've given in to a craving I had and I am making oatmeal raisin cookies, using my Nanny's recipe.

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.


InkyOrchid said...

That was a lovely story, Keeper. Thank you for sharing it.

raputathebuta said...

What a great story, Keeper!

Pssst...oatmeal raisin are (one of) my most favorite cookies!

koosh said...

*is hungry now* :( Freezing really does make a difference, but I'd never thought about it in quite this way. Thanks for sharing.

Tigerpride09 said...

Okay, you have now successfully made me hungry. I have only had a package of POPTARTS, a bag of Gordettos, Twix candy of 2 bars, and a baconator I saved from being thrown away. I want COOKIES!!!! I think I shall come over tomorrow???Wink Wink Wink???!!!! I am definitely going to make a compilation of recipes before I go to college even if I go to TU. Love you!


Anonymous said...

Oatmeal raisin cookies are my favorite!!!! One thing I learned from my mom was to let the raisins soak in hot water while mixing up the dough... :D

I have a feeling I'm going to be making these this weekend...