*Oatmeal Raisin Cookies*
People always have this way of organizing themselves into groups.
Starting from early developmental years, children tend to befriend other children who look like them, and then of course, they grow up into perfectly reasonable, rational adults who form into other kinds of groups, based on other kinds of similarities. These groups are many and multifaceted.
In the cookie group, for instance, people are divided into four major camps.
There are the Chocolate Chip Cookie people, the Oatmeal Raisin Cookie people, the Sugar Cookie people, and the Peanut Butter Cookie people.
Occasionally, there will be a Snickerdoodle person, but we don’t talk about them.
When it comes to fantasy book series, people in my generation are divided into Harry Potter people and Lord of the Rings people. I’ve always been a Harry Potter person, but I can make room in the world and in my heart for some Lord of the Rings people too.
After my “generation” (I guess that means after I stopped being a teenager), people started dividing into Twilight people and Hunger Game people, and as with everything that came after my “time”, like Justin Bieber and boys with skinny jeans, I regarded them with nothing but incensed ridicule inter-mixed with a thinly disguised sense of superiority. But I can live in a world with Twi-hards and Hunger-Bungers or whatever they call themselves. I can make room in my heart for people who prefer different books to me.
Except of course, the Fifty Shades of Grey people.
I will never understand Fifty Shades of Grey people.
But I guess they have their dungeons, so they don’t really need me to understand them.
In the technology world, there are the Mac people and the PC people. (There are divisions in my household over this. My sister is a Mac and I am a PC. Neither of us knows how to use the other’s computer.)
In my nerdy high school, there were the Casio people and the TI-89 people. I was a TI-89 person. Turning on a Casio was like an eight step pointless process.
Across our seven continents, there live brown people, and white people, and black people and green people.
We love all of them equally, although we do politely inquire into the health of the green people.
So when my soon to be brother-in-law popped in last week, I was giddy with both joy and anticipation.
“What kind of cookies does he like?” I asked my sister, bouncing excitedly. “What kind?”
I was waiting for the answer I thought I knew was coming.
Because you see, even though we all know the world is divided into many different people, with many different likes and many different dislikes, it always–remarkably–surprises us, to find out this fact, again and again, in different areas of our lives.
We seem to forget, at every conceivable opportunity, that given a choice between two things, another person might choose differently from us for no other reason other than that they have different preferences than we do.
And when those people are people we love, we understand it less.
The same basic principle applied here.
My sister, hesitating in response to my question, gave me a look. It was the look a doctor gives when diagnosing a patient with chicken pox. Grim, and firm. The you-aren’t-going-to-like-what-I-have-to-say-but-you-are-going-to-have-to come-to-terms-with-it look.
“He likes Oatmeal Raisin.” she said.
Oh dear. I thought.
Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.
“Yeah” she shrugged, reading my expression, “I don’t get it either.”
So entrenched were we both in the Chocolate Chip Cookie camp, that coming out of that tent and peering across the creek at the distant, scantily populated Oatmeal Raisin Cookie camp seemed like star-gazing at a different planet with a strange alien race.
Peering across, and wondering if I could make the journey, I realized something.
If my soon-to-be brother-in-law (that is a lot of hyphens) lived in the same Chocolate Chip Cookie camp as me and my sister, I would never have had the opportunity–or reason–to bake Oatmeal Raisin cookies.
I would have been so happy to party in my own Chocolate Chip Cookie camp, recreating the Chocolate Chip cookie a hundred times, trying to find the perfect recipe, that my oven would never have known the subtle and rich flavors of the Oatmeal Raisin cookie.
Without the refreshing inclusion of people in life who are different from you, I realized, your existence would be reduced to a prolonged and tedious study of yourself. And if you only spend time thinking about what you like, what you want, and what you enjoy– and spending time with only those who agree with you–you turn into a human being who is about as interesting as a contaminated sack of rotting potatoes lying forgotten in a shed.
And so I resolved to take the first step, sniffed the air around me, and tiptoed towards the creek, venturing out to try something new.
“I’m going to do it.” I said excitedly, with a sense of purpose. I looked at my sister–so much insight had revealed itself to me in those moments, and I wondered if she knew the importance of the journey I was about to take. She grunted, eyes stuck to her i-phone. I knew she was masking a sense of awe and admiration.
The creek was not too far, not too wide, nor too deep for me to wade through it, to try a taste from the Oatmeal Raisin Cookie camp, and wonder whether I could alter the recipe, just so, so that it would be favorable to me.
I could, I thought. I very well could.
And after baking those Oatmeal Raisin cookies, I packaged a few and brought them back with me, into my own Chocolate Chip Cookie camp.
As I waited, bated breath, for the verdict, the tension could be felt heavy in the air.
“Damn, this makes me actually like Oatmeal Raisin.” My sister said, chomping.
“YEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARS.” I roared triumphantly.
And the world felt like just a little bit better place.
Recipe for Oatmeal Raisin Cookies adapted from here.
- 3/4 cup butter
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp almond extract
- 1 ¼ cup flour
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp nutmeg
- 1 tsp cardamom
- 2 tsp allspice
- 1 tsp Baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 3/4 cups rolled oats
- 1 cup raisins, soaked
- Cream butter and sugars together. (I like to leave them together, sitting outside, so that the butter comes to room temperature while I prepare the dry ingredients.
5. Add the eggs, and mix again. Then add the vanilla and almond extracts, and give it one more good mix, just a few seconds.
6. Add about half of the flour mixture into the wet ingredients, and stir until well blended.
9. And the raisins, and mix together, thoroughly.
10. Scoop the batter onto a cookie tray lined with parchment paper using an ice cream scoop.
11. Bake at 350 F for 15 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. The outer edges will be crispy, the inside will be chewy, the sweetness will be just right, and the blend of spices will add a subtle complexity of flavor impossible to resist. Enjoy!