Saturday, October 10, 2009

Old School: Grandma Schlitter's Oatmeal Cookies

As much as I love trolling the Internet for recipes, I'm gonna be honest - some of the best recipes I've ever found were given to me ages ago. I'll bookmark various recipes for chili - but I still like my mom's the best. Chocolate chip cookies are another one - there are a zillion recipes out there and I've made a few variations - but what's wrong the recipe on the back of the Nestle's bag?

When I have a wicked craving for oatmeal raisin cookies, I have a host of options that I've found on the Internet, but the best cookie I ever ate came from a German woman who happened to be my grandma's mom - my great-grandma Schlitter. I have two distinct cookie memories that are assigned to Grandma Schlitter - one was her killer gingerbread men that she'd make at Halloween and pass out to the grandkids in lieu of candy. One year I got to apprentice in her tiny little kitchen. After a morning of baking, she fed me and my mom boiled cabbage which only made me love her more.

The second cookie recipe that I associate with Grandma S. is this oatmeal raisin cookie recipe. According to my Grandma Schlitter, the gingerbread recipe came from her mom and was the cookie that she'd always pack in little Geneva's lunch pail when my great-granny went off to school. There was another girl in the class whose mom made these oatmeal raisin cookies. The girls would switch their cookies and Grandma Schlitter later received this recipe.

Unfortunately, my great-grandma made these cookies so much and foisted them on her grandchildren so much that one day she asked my Aunt Sue if she'd like a cookie and my aunt calmly replied "I wouldn't eat another one of those dog biscuits if my life depended on it." Which is why we also call these cookies dog biscuits. Rest in peace, Grandma Schlitter - I hope heaven is full of more appreciative people. :)

Grandma's Oatmeal Cookies

1/2 c. lard (don't even THINK about substituting it for shortening)
1 c. sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. salt
1 c. heavy cream **
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1 c. raisins or more
2 c. flour
1/2 c. chopped nuts (optional)
2+ cups steel cut oatmeal (you can use quick oats ...)

Cream lard and sugar together and add egg, mixing well. Add remaining ingredients in the order given and stir in enough oatmeal to make a very stiff dough. Drop by spoonful on greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees until lightly browned. If they spread out and are too crisp, add more flour and oatmeal.
A couple of notes: Lard? Oh yes, lard. I've done the leg work and I've tried making these cookies with shortening. They are a pale imitation of what they SHOULD taste like. You will usually find lard somewhere in your grocer's refrigerated section. This time, I found mine sandwiched near the salt pork/bacon products. Other times, I've found it near butter. Once I found it on a shelf and it was NOT refrigerated. Just ask if you can't find it.

** Heavy cream. The first time I ever made these cookies solo, I had to call my mom because the original recipe called for "sweet cream."

Me: What the hell is sweet cream?
Mom: Well, when your grandma would make these cookies, she'd get the cream straight from the bulk tank. You're probably not going to find cream that fresh.

And finally - these cookies, while admirably good, are nothing like I remember from childhood. But I'll keep trying ... :) I have to use up that lard somehow.


Kelsey B. said...

I LOVE this story! I agree, old recipes are the best!

Paul said...

Oh my, I bet these are good...

Deb said...

Marking these RIGHT now. These are my next cookies!

Sippity Sup said...

The memories attached to food can make them taste all the sweeter! GREG