cookie closeup 1 

It’s the 1950’s. Picture a woman, tall, pretty and elegant, moving around the house like the quintessential 1950’s housewife she is. She plays bridge, smokes unfiltered Camels and is a modern woman. Then in the 1960’s her husband moves the family to Djarkta, Indonesia and the Philippenes.

These are the same islands where only a mere 450 years prior; England, Portugal and the Netherlands were battling out the Spice Wars. Nutmeg, pepper, cloves, and cinnamon commanded a high price and the race to secure trading rights was fierce.  

So back to our woman. This is my maternal grandmother and the oatmeal cookie recipe belonged to her. It’s right from the 1950’s, except it’s loaded with island spices. Her house was filled with Oriental art and she incorporated batik fabrics into her North American wardrobe. I have to think the culture of the original “spiceries” are infused into these cookies. I also think my love for spices began with these scrumptious little mounds with their warm flavor and satisfying aroma.  

What do you think?

spice piles

These cookies aren’t overly sugary. Instead they rely on the sharp, natural sweetness of the raisins to complement the warm flavor of the oats and spices.

Here’s the recipe:   

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Farenheit.

1 cup sugar; 1 cup shortening.  Cream these together. (Yes, shortening. I’ve tried the recipe with butter and it just doesn’t work as well. And don’t you dare use nonfat.)

2 eggs; 2 teaspoons water. Add to the creamed shortening/sugar and mix until blended.

In a separate bowl mix and sift (I use a whisk, much easier):

2 1/4 cups flour; 1/2 teaspoon baking powder; 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda; 3/4 teaspoon salt; 1 teaspoon cinnamon; 1 teaspoon nutmeg; 1 teaspoon allspice; 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves; 1 teaspoon vanilla. (Note on the vanilla; I make my own. I was out of the lower grade alcohol so my last batch was filled with Absolut vodka. That’s some upscale vanilla!)

Mix the dry ingredients to the wet and stir until combined. (I grate my own nutmeg which is more potent fresh. I did not skimp on the amount). 


Now add:

1 3/4 cups rolled oats; 1 1/3 cups raisins; 1/2 cup walnuts (Nuts are optional. So are the raisins but the cookies really should have raisins).

Place about a 1 tablespoon dollop of dough 2″ apart on a greased cookie sheet. Bake for 10-15 minutes.

The cool thing about these cookies is their adaptability. Bake them closer to 10-11 minutes if you prefer a chewy cookie. Or, 13-15 minutes if you want a crispier cookie that is perfect for dunking in coffee, tea or milk. No matter which you choose these cookies are a premium from-the-oven-into-your-mouth cookie.