Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Waiting Place: Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Dr. Seuss describes a place in his classic Oh, The Places You'll Go, called "The Waiting Place. For people just waiting. Waiting for a train to go, Or a bus to come, or a plane to go,or the mail to come, or the rain to go, Or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow ..." I've felt like I'm a regular at the Waiting Place lately; February has been filled with fits and starts due to snow days and conferences and a host of other things, so much so that the semester seems like it never really got started. The predictions were for another foot of snow or so over the next day and a half, with high winds, but though the clouds hung low in the sky when we woke for the 5 a.m. phone call confirming that Ian's school was closed, it was more raining than snowing. Thankfully, Steve's meetings had been cancelled for the day, because mine weren't, so after playing in the attic for a while with Ian, I trudged in to work, watching the snow fall in large wet clumps. It still hadn't started to accumulate on the roads when I left work and came home to relieve Steve for a while so he could catch up on his own pile of email. I wanted the storm to figure out what it was doing so I could make my own plans for the next two days, which would either entail going in to work, or not, and finding alternate care, or not, etc., etc. etc.

In the meantime, I decided to do what I guess we always end up doing on snow days: bake.
(Thank goodness, since there's been more soup and shopping on this blog lately than you might hope from something calling itself "half baked.") Storm or no storm, it's going to be a busy weekend: a friend placed an "order" for two dozen cupcakes for Sunday morning delivery (no, I haven't started a business ... it's something I offered up as a charity auction item), and then there's the Acorn open house I'm baking cookies for on Sunday afternoon, and somewhere in there I have to grocery shop, and Ian has a party to attend, and we have a dinner scheduled in Princeton for Saturday night. As you can probably guess, I'm not very good at staying in the Waiting Place.

The other night I went with a friend to see Elizabeth Gilbert speak. She was smart, funny, down-to-earth--exactly what you'd think she'd be. And she said all sorts of wise things, like how important it is to say "no" sometimes, to find time for the care of the soul, to allow yourself to be wherever you are. But thinking about it now, I was most taken with her description of waiting. When she finished the first draft of her newest book, she printed it out, read it, and realized that it was ... awful. She didn't know what to do; she had accepted the publisher's advance, the book was due ... and she became increasingly horrified by the prospect of turning in what she knew to be a piece of ... well, you know what I mean. So she did the hardest thing she'd ever done: she wrote to the publisher, told them the truth. And when they wrote back and said that they'd wait, she took refuge in her garden, spent every hour of daylight weeding and growing things, and waited, too, until the first sentence came "blowing across the grass" with the first autumn leaves.

All of this seems to apply to me on so many dimensions these days. I ought to be more patient; to welcome the moments when the clouds just hang in the sky, confident that the next thing will come, rather than trying to hasten it along.

The snow has finally started to fall. I'm not sure how much we'll actually get. I'm not sure whether Ian will have school tomorrow or not. The street is covered in an inch or two of pristine crystals, and I don't know when the plow will come by. But perhaps tonight I should just listen to the wind, and the chorus of chimes from the porches on our block, and chew, very slowly, on an oatmeal raisin cookie, just waiting.

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
This recipe is a somewhat healthier take on the original, and vegan, so useful to have on hand when you're baking a bunch of cookies for, say, an open house where you haven't the foggiest idea who will come. Adapted from Vegan Cookies Take Over Your Cookie Jar.

1/3 c. soymilk
2 T. ground flax seeds
2/3 c. turbinado sugar
1/3 c. oil (mild olive is fine)
1 t. vanilla
3/4 c. white whole wheat flour
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/8 t. nutmeg
1/4 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1 1/2 c. oats (any combination of quick cooking and regular rolled)
1/2 c. raisins

Preheat the oven to 350. Line two baking sheets with parchment.

In a large bowl, whish soy milk and flax seeds. Add sugar and oil; mix well, about 2 minutes. Mix in the vanilla.

Sift in the dry ingredients, mixing as you add them. Fold in the oatmeal nad raisins.

Drop dough in heaping tablespoons onto the parchments, leaving about 2" between the cookies. Flatten them a bit with a wet hand (so they don't stick to you). Bake 10-12 minutes, or until the cookies are just beginning to turn golden around the edges. Cool 5 minutes on the pans and transfer to cooling racks to finish cooling.

That is, if you can make your family wait that long. ;)
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