There are days, readers, when you dream of something big. Something revolutionary and complicated and impressive. Something that will amaze your friends and bedevil your enemies. But sometimes, on those days, you come home, and you find that your younger daughter has a field trip the next day, and she needs a bag lunch, and she also needs a snack, and there is nothing remotely snacklike in the house, and you want to at least have cooked something, so you turn to an old standby because, after all, the very last thing you want is for your child to be tromping around the Chesapeake Bay with her classmates and stopping to have the snack you've made and deciding that it, and its maker, are without merit.
I don't really have an oatmeal cookie recipe. There's a recipe in Beat This, and all of the recipes in Beat This are amazing, but, if memory serves, that recipe makes a load of cookies and probably requires more of some ingredients than I have in the house. So I did what I always do: get out the oatmeal box, look at the recipe on it, and decide where to make changes.
As it happens, raisins are the natural enemy of my daughters, so the first change is always to chuck the raisins. And, really, when you're making cookies, there's never any guarantee that the raisins won't burn. Chocolate is always a big hit with L., so in go some chocolate chip cookies. There are no nuts in the recipe, so why not walnuts?
I would also have liked to put in some unsweetened flaked coconut, but I couldn't find it. I especially would have liked to add some peanut butter, but V. stores the peanut butter (which is just Jif or something; it's not even organic) in the refrigerator (why does he do that? I'm sure I don't know; the man has some bizarre culinary habits; I will not even mention what he does to artichokes; trust me, you don't want to know), so that it would be difficult to mix in or even to get out of the jar. I considered using the microwave, but then I remembered peanut allergies, and while it's highly unlikely that any of L.'s classmates have such an allergy (or I would probably have heard about it), any parent in this area who has had children in any school and/or daycare center has been trained to fear peanut allergies like a live third rail. I also considered putting in some dried cherries, but L. is not so much for distinguishing between raisins and things that resemble raisins. Alas.
Anyway, here are the cookies I ended up with. They're pretty good.
1 cup walnuts
2 sticks butter, at room temperature
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 t. vanilla
1.5 cups all-purpose flour
1 t. baking soda
1 t. cinnamon
1.5 cup rolled oats
1 cup chocolate chips
Turn oven to 350 degrees
While the oven is preheating, put the walnuts in a pan and toast them in the oven. Don't let them burn. Set them aside to cool. Break them up a bit with your hands.
Put the butter in your mixer bowl and turn the mixer on. When the butter is well creamed, add the brown sugar. As soon as each ingredient is well combined, add the next. Add the cooled nuts last. Scrape down the bowl with your rubber spatula and make sure the batter is well mixed.
Line your cookie pans (I use half sheet pans) with parchment. Use a two-inch cookie scoop and drop balls on the cookie sheet so that the centers are four inches apart. Put them in the oven for seven minutes, then rotate them and cook for six to eight minutes more, until they are done. If you are baking two sheets at a time, switch the upper and lower pans and rotate them all at the same time. It's almost like juggling.
Let the cookies cool in the pan for a few minutes. Slide the parchment onto a marble or a rack and let cool completely.
This recipe makes three dozen four-inch cookies. If you want smaller cookies, use a smaller scoop and add another cup of rolled oats so that they don't spread out so much, and reduce the baking time. You will, of course, have a much larger number of cookies.