Baking is something I’ve enjoyed since I was about 13 years old. That’s when my Dad would finally let me use the oven. The first thing I baked by myself was oatmeal raisin cookies. I used the recipe on the Quaker Oats container in 1975.. The current recipe, “Vanishing Oatmeal Cookies” isn’t the same. It’s a decent recipe but it doesn’t evoke childhood memories. But that’s not the recipe I used for this batch of cookies. This lovely little recipe comes from Live Well Bake Often. Clicking on the link will take you to her recipe. The recipe is perfection and it gave me all the childhood feels I wanted with each bite. These are chewy and loaded with raisins. I’m the only one in the house that likes oatmeal raisin.
More cookies for me.
My Dad loved oatmeal raisin cookies. They were his favorite even though he wasn’t a huge fan of cookies. He enjoyed pies and sticky buns the most with the occasional Bundt cake thrown in for good measure. In the later years of his life he would buy Sam’s Club oatmeal cookies with extra raisins because Dad also loved raisins. For a long time after I moved out on my own I refused to buy little boxes of raisins.
Back in my lunchbox toting days of elementary school I’d watch with envy as classmates unpacked their lunches. Up and down the long tables were little bags of potato chips, cheese doodles, Tastykakes, Ding Dongs and the oh so yummy Devil Dog accompanied a bologna or ham and cheese sandwich. My unpacking was not as hunger inducing. A sandwich spread with the thinnest coating of tuna fish, a Thermos filled with grape juice and that little red box of Raisins stared back at me.
While we’re in a school days phase let’s do a bit of lunch Arithmetic.
Tuna + bread = soggy sammich.
It’s amazing that the sandwich was able to get soggy since the layer of tuna was so thin.
This makes me sound ungrateful. I was a kid back then. And the kid in 1970 wanted a damn Ding Dong.
Let me take this time to say that as an adult I’m incredibly grateful for having a lunch even if it was soggy tuna. Dad made sure there was a roof over our heads, food in our bellies and clothes on our back. We never went hungry, never sat in the dark or froze during winter months. Dad was a miser. He hoarded his wealth and spent as little as possible when it came to his kids or his wife. Around the time my younger sister and I were nearly teenagers he changed. We’ll never know why he changed but he was emotionally absent from our lives and good memories are few and far between. Oatmeal cookies are one of those few memories I have of the man through my teenage years.
Dad is no longer with us. In February of 2009 doctors diagnosed the cancer and gave him six months to live. He lived 18 months and was able to put his affairs in order and spend time with the family. It was during this time I got to know my Dad better than I’d ever known him. While he waited for the Lord to take him, we had a long conversation at his home in Florida. It was during that talk that he told me how much he loved me and how much he regretted not expressing his love for his children and grandchildren. Before that day I could count on one hand how many times I’d heard my Dad tell me he loved me.
In the years since his passing I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on his life and the type of father he was to my sisters, brother and me. But that’s a story for another day. Today is about a good memory. The memory of Dad, his love for oatmeal raisin cookies and letting me bake by myself for the first time. And that was the start of my love for baking. And as a parent I swore that I’d express my love for my kiddos every chance I got. They’ve always been my shadows in the kitchen. All three of them could cook and bake by the time each of them turned 10. The kitchen in my home is central to this family. We gather together to cook, bake, BBQ and of course eat. These days we’re handing down all that knowledge to the grand kids.