By Olivia Percle, Air Force Spouse and author of http://www.thesensuist.com
Here we are in the middle of that season we’ve anticipated all year, when the kids are out of school, the temperatures get warmer and the days get longer. It’s called summertime right? As a military spouse I think we can more accurately refer to it as “PCS Season”. It’s that time of year when many of us pack up to begin a new chapter of our military lives in a new location. It’s when we say goodbye to good friends and hope to quickly make new ones.
Like many of us, I always have mixed emotions when it comes to relocating…again. It’s scary, exciting, sad and wonderful all at once. I get to nestle in to a new house and make it our home, but feel out of place because I walk into a dark room and don’t know where the light switches are. I get to explore a new city with different restaurants and undiscovered adventures, but I get lost when I try to find the nearest grocery store. And although they are only a phone call away, I miss my friends from our last assignment and feel a little bit like an orphan.
During one of those times a few years back, we had just arrived in Florida for a new assignment surrounded by packing boxes and exhaustion when there was a knock on the door. On the other side stood the commander of our new squadron and his family. My first thought was, “No! I’m a mess, the house is a mess! We’re not ready for guests. Let’s duck down behind these boxes and they’ll just go away!” But we did open the door and they stepped into the house just long enough to tell us they were glad we were there and hand us something home-baked, a giant chocolate chip cookie. It was a simple gesture but it was the first step in making that new place feel like home. Over the next few days I would pass by the kitchen, bone-weary from hours of unpacking, see that cookie sitting on the counter and I was so thankful. I was hungry from the hard work of unpacking but I also hungered for a sense of belonging. That simple cookie was like a lifeline for me. I would pause to nibble on a bite or two and feel better, ready to go on with the task at hand. I’ve never forgotten that.
I promised myself to make that gesture when new families joined our squadrons in the future. But I must admit, so many times I failed. I had good intentions but life got in the way and time passed. My solution was to come up with a simple cookie recipe that I’d like to share with you. You can change the recipe to use what you have on hand in your pantry and it can be made ahead and frozen. So, the next time you see those moving trucks pull up and you know there’s a family (somewhere behind all those boxes) eager to make this new place feel like home, you will have something ready to go. You only need a smile and a handshake to go along with it.
Chewy Chocolate Raisin Oatmeal Cookies
This cookie recipe can be adapted to whatever little yummy bits you have in your pantry and can also be made ahead and frozen so it’s ready at a moment’s notice.
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups old-fashioned oats (uncooked)
¾ cup chocolate pieces* (see variations below)
¾ cup raisins* (see variations below)
- Heat oven to 350 degrees.
- In a medium sized bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt with a whisk. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla and mix until combined.
- Add flour mixture and mix well.
- Add chocolate and raisins and mix until incorporated throughout the dough.
- Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and drop cookie dough by the tablespoonful about two inches apart onto cookie sheet.
- Bake for 12-15 minutes or until bottoms are lightly browned. Remove to a wire rack to cool.
Notes and Tips:
You can use almost any combination of candy, nuts and dried fruits that you have in your pantry if you don’t want to use chocolate bits and raisins. Here are a few suggestions: Toffee and pecans, sweetened shredded coconut and walnuts, white chocolate bits and sweetened dried cranberries (my favorite!). The possibilities are endless! Try butterscotch bits, M&M’s or other candies broken into bits along with the raisins. Just make sure the total amount of whatever combination you choose equals 1 ½ cups.
If freezing dough, simply drop the dough onto cookie sheets about ½ inch apart and pop them into the freezer until firm. Transfer them to a plastic freezer bag and return to the freezer. The cookies bake up beautifully directly from the freezer. You will just need to adjust the baking time, about 5 minutes longer (17-20 minutes).
If you haven’t tried using parchment paper when baking, give it a try! I’m telling you, nothing sticks to the stuff and it makes clean up so easy!
Letting your cookie sheet cool slightly between batches is important. If you put cookie dough on a hot cookie sheet, the cookies will spread and become flat.