Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Chewy cinnamon oatmeal cookies and musings

We have been blessed by a beautiful September. The sun has been shining almost every day and the kids have been spending the warm afternoons in the square by their school with their friends. They play ball and Chinese jump rope, they climb up the school fence and draw on the pavement with colored chalk. In the mornings and evenings, however, the air is undeniably chillier and on my way to work I have started noticing fallen leaves and open chestnut burrs on the bike lane.
Fall is in the air and as I start pulling out our duvets from their summer hiding places and sorting through the kids' winter clothers, I can't help but feel drawn towards the kitchen. I am craving all things autumn: warm oatmeal, cinnamon, apple pies and pumpkin soup.
Over the week end I baked my first batch of cookies in a while, and I have been bringing them to my kids as a snack everyday after school.
As I was mixing the ingredients I thought about some things I had heard over the week. Stories that once again made reminded me that there are extraordinary women and men everywhere, not just on the cover stories of magazines.
Perhaps I should rephrase that. There are ordinary people everywhere doing extraordinary things. Mothers and fathers who work, who lead hectic lives, yet still manage to make a difference; people who are quietly fighting demons, yet do their thing better and with more passion and energy than I have most of the time.
Like my friend who has two kids of her own and a job and will be welcoming a child from the highly contaminated areas around Chernobyl into her home for five weeks in October. These yearly visits help lower the radioactive levels in the childrens' bodies and the healthy and uncontaminated food they eat helps further boost their immune systems. The families participating in this project are lending a helping hand whilst offering their own children a unique opportunity of intercultural exchange.
Or the two families in my child's class who recently adopted siblings at an age when the large majority of couples would not take in a child, let alone two or three.
Or this other woman I know (but apparently less than I thought I did) who has a job, a husband who travels and a gaggle of noisy, cute children. I always marvel at her appearance, not because she is dressed up to the nines or perfectly coiffed and accessorized, but because she always smiles and is surrounded by a positive aura. If she feels tired or frustrated like I often do with my two kids, you certainly can't tell. Other moms are constantly asking her how she does it all and I have often wondered how long it would take for her to stop smiling and tell them to shut up. Then I found out (not from her, might I add) that she has been fighting harder battles than getting her toddler to wear the shirt she put out for him, which is probably why her smile is of the most genuine kind, because she appreciates life in its every nuance. Or maybe that is just the way she is, maybe she just has a solar personality. Who knows?
What do we really know about the many people we come across every day, in our ordinary dealings? Not much really. It is so easy to wait by the school entrance with a bunch of moms and dads and just make assumptions about them and their lives. Maybe a sentence you overheard out of context or something as silly as a pair of shoes or a necklace creates an image in your mind of a person or family you really know nothing about. What do we know about their true story?

But this is a whole new topic. Forgive me for taking you for a ride down my stream of consciousness. My point is, when we take the time to get to know people better, we not only become better people ourselves, we also learn that the extraordinary exists in the most ordinary places. So look around and let yourself be inspired daily. I know I am.

Now, to the recipe.

To make these lovely, chewy fall treats I used less sugar than the original recipe suggested, because I just couldn't get myself to use that much sugar. Also, the earlier you take out the cookies the chewier they will be of course.

Adapted from Taste of Home

Ingredients (yields 30-35)
1 cup/225gr butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 cups quick oats

In a bowl mix butter and both sugars until they are creamy and light. Beat in eggs and vanilla extract.
In another bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Add to the butter mixture a little at a time until well combines. Finally, stir in the oats.

Preheat oven to 350°F/175°C. On a lined baking sheet, place the cookie dough rolled into roughly 1 1/2 inch/3cm balls, making sure you leave about 2 inches/4cm between them. Bake for about 10-12 minutes or until they start turning golden brown at the edges. Remove from oven and after a couple of minutes let cool on a cookie rack.


  1. I used to love coming home from school and finding my mother had been baking biscuits. Those poor Russian children. That was such a shocking disaster. How lovely of your friend to give a few of those children a five week toxic-free vacation xx

    1. I agree, we all want to do things like that and then life gets in the way and we don't make it happen. This post is a thank you to all those people who make them happen, despite everyday life.

  2. I read a saying the other day that said something along the lines of everyone you meet is struggling through something, be kind. I thought that that was a thoughtful thing to read and we truly don't know much about a lot of people's lives that pass us. The woman sounds absolutely lovely-kind of heart and spirit! :)

  3. Oh thank you for writing this. Now that Roman goes to Pre-K I'm one of the parents waiting outside and really enjoying getting a tiny glimpse into peoples' lives. And you're completely right- we know so little about them and their lives. But I've noticed people taking the time to get to know me and I'm grateful for it. Not only do I thrive on the little snippets of conversation in the five minutes before retrieving Roman, but also on the hope that maybe a few of them will turn into friends.

    These cookies look so wonderful. I've just eaten 3/4 of a cake that's been sitting on my counter since Sunday. Time for a walk, I guess!!


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