Keith: Growing up, I spent quite a few summers visiting my grandparents in western Kansas. I’ve got many memories from those trips, but none make my mouth water as much as Mary’s cookies. You never needed to explain to anyone in my family what Mary’s cookies were. And if someone said “should we call up Mary and get her to bake some?”, there was only one sane answer. As a kid, I wasn’t even sure who Mary was. I figured I was distantly related to her (I’m distantly related to 90% of the population of western Kansas), but I didn’t know anything else. And I didn’t care. She had a go cart she let me drive and she made the world’s best oatmeal cookies…what else do you need to know?
Well, we were just back in Kansas and had the chance to get a baking lesson from her. She turned out to be more than just go carts and cookies! And her oatmeal cookies are still the best in the world.
Leslie: For two days straight while in Kansas we had been eating oatmeal cookies for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They were baked by a woman named Mary who Keith had been raving about for so long. The little treats were a welcome addiction. I had to meet this lady asap. Last Friday, we were finally introduced and right after the “please to meet you’s” I pretty much invited myself to her house for a baking lesson the next morning! I warmed up to her instantly. She had such a lovely smile and I felt so comfortable around her.
Her house was out in the country next to a little chapel. She had a variety of perennials in every color all in bloom bordering the wrap around porch. When we entered the house our eyes were drawn to the slick ashy brown colored wood floors (salvaged by her father piece by piece from an old school gymnasium). The inside was airy with vibrant walls and her decor was clean and simple. As she took us on a tour we found out that her house was actually two houses put together (one house was moved from 12 miles away). She and her husband Carl have been restoring the house for about 10 years. Mary just retired recently and has started a new “hobby” which brings us to the most impressive part, her quilting studio. It was a machine about 20 ft. by 5 connected to a computer for designing patterns. In an adjacent room she had many projects that she was currently working on. With all the impressive pieces we saw I would hardly call her a hobbyist.
Here is a sample of one of her creations. If you take a closer look each block represents a month of the year (the snowflake for January on the bottom left and the pine tree for December on the upper right hand corner). OK, after all tour and learning about her house we finally moved on to kitchen which was perfect because we had been without those cookies for a few hours.
We asked Mary if she would not mind sharing her recipe with us because many people like to keep their recipes a secret especially when it’s something really good. She replied that it did not even cross her mind and that she would be very happy to share with us. I liked her even more. So here it is from me to you in keeping with the tradition 🙂 Thank you Mary.
Preheat oven at 350 degrees.
- 2 sticks butter
- 3/4 c. granulated sugar
- 3/4 c. packed brown sugar
- 1 T. vanilla
- 2 large eggs
- 1 t. baking soda
- 1.5 cups flour
- 3 c. old fashioned oats
- add 1 t. salt if you used unsalted butter
Cream butter and sugar by hand. Mix in the vanilla and eggs then the dry ingredients. Make sure to mix everything gently so you don’t mix in too much air in the batter. Use an ice cream scoop to make uniform cookies (about 1.5 T. cookie dough). For best results use a high quality sheet pan. (I tried making the cookies today and when I used a regular thin cookie pan for one batch I got puffy cookies with burnt edges). Bake for 12-15 minutes. The edges should be golden brown and the middle part should be just a little wet/shiny. Take out of the oven and let it sit for about 2-3 minutes to make it easier to transfer onto a cooling rack or into your mouth! The texture should be chewy and slightly crunchy.
You can also add some raisins, chocolate chips, and spices but I think this recipe is perfect as is.
Here you go. Don’t they just look lovely?
If you don’t feel like baking and if you need a cozy quilt to warm up for the winter, just send Mary an email to place an order at (firstname.lastname@example.org).
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