How many of you have read (or in my pathetic case, memorized) “Laurel’s Kitchen” … one the original, ground-breaking, vegetarian cookbooks from the mid-1970’s ? Remember that one, with its beautiful block print illustrations of home and hearth?
I LOVED that book, and learned so much from it. Like every other hold-out flower-child from that era, I wanted to be one of those ladies in her kitchen—braid tucked up in a bandana, dustings of flour everywhere from bread-making sessions, coffee on the stove, with cats and children underfoot. (Of course, that was when I wasn’t wanting to be Julia Child, M.F.K Fischer, Marcella Hazan, or Alice Waters …)
I especially remember reading the part where she lovingly and painstakingly packed her husband’s lunch each day and thinking, “Someday, I’ll be that wife…”
Fortunately for me, my husband has never pulled that book off of the shelf.
My wifely short-comings aside, there was a beauty to that book which I’ve never forgotten. From cover to cover, it was filled with a sort of ‘simplicity of be-ing’. Reading and cooking from it always made me feel as though I could save the world from my kitchen, one loaf of bread (or one cookie) at a time.
Today, I was baking oatmeal cookies so that the husband would have some lunchbox treats. While thinking of their decidedly un-extravagent nature and holding tenaciously to my philosophy that all the oats would cancel out the sugar and butter, the ”Laurel’s Kitchen” memories surfaced. It wasn’t until I had written the above when I remembered that the recipe for “Oatmeal School Cookies” from that book was one of my ‘go-to’ cookies, filling the cookie jar for more than a decade.
The recipe I’m sharing with you today is not that one, although you can be sure I’ll be baking that one up in the next week or two. No, this is yet another version of the humble oatmeal cookie, one of the many scattered throughout the baking universe.
Look at these cookies.
These are friendly cookies, brown and nubby, like a favorite sweater.
There is nothing decadent or over-the-top about them. They are as simple and substantial as can be, with just a few ‘extras’ added to make them different than the standard oatmeal-raisin variety that so frequently appears from my oven.
They are fairly unadorned and uncomplicated—but ohhh, I wish you could be in my kitchen right now, this moment—and just inhale deeply as they come out from the oven.
There is no way I can describe the aroma of these oat-y little cookies–the rich scent of the vanilla, the toasty layers of the coconut, and the fragrant bits of pecan and butterscotch.
No, I can’t, so you’ll just have to trust me on this one and make them yourself. And when you do, close your eyes for a moment and breathe in their wonderful sweet, spicy, buttery fragrance.
They smell like ‘home’.
Thanks so much for coming to visit, and love,
Oh, and I’m curious to know, do any of you still have and use “Laurel’s Kitchen”? If so, what is your favorite recipe?
Coconut and Butterscotch Oatmeal Cookies
(adapted from an old Quaker Oatmeal box)
Makes roughly 40 cookies
3/4 cup + 2 Tblsp room temperature butter
3/4 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 Tblsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 cups regular oats
1/2 cup flaked coconut
1/2 cup butterscotch chips
1/2 cup pecans, chopped coarsely
1. Preheat your oven to 350 F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper, or leave them un-greased.
2. Combine the flour, soda, and salt in a small bowl. Mix them well and set to the side.
3. Beat the butter, sugars and cinnamon until creamy.
4. Add the vanilla, then the eggs one at a time, beating in each one thoroughly.
5. Add in the flour mixture, mixing it in completely.
6. Add in the oats, cocoanut, butterscotch chips, and nuts, blending until they are well incorporated.
Drop the dough by rounded tablespoon fulls (I use a 1 1/2 inch scoop) onto the sheets, about 2 inches apart. Flatten each ball slightly with your hand.
Bake them 10 to 13 minutes, or until they turn lightly golden.
Cool them for a minute on the cookie sheet before removing them to wire racks to cool completely.