Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Blossoms.

I went to the ophthalmologist yesterday, for my annual eye exam and to renew my contact prescription. "You're getting to be the age when we need to test you for reading glasses," she said.

Outside: "Sure! I bet that will be almost as fun as the visual field test!"

Fortunately, I don't need reading glasses. I'm only nearsighted, not farsighted.  A metaphor if there ever was one.  Still, it's depressing to think: "I'm more than mid-way in a lifetime quest of self-improvement and THIS is where I'm at?"

I can't pinpoint exactly where my determination to Change My Life began. (For the poet Rilke, it began when gazing on a naked, headless statue of Apollo in a museum).  But as good a beginning as any to cite was when I was nineteen and working as a camp counselor at an academic camp in upstate New York. The experience was dreadful, partially because I was responsible for enforcing the arcane laws of the camp, which insisted that every camper had to sit down to breakfast, have lights out at an ungodly, early hour in the summertime, and had to make sure the little darlings didn't miss Evening Activities, no matter how miserable and overstimulated they were.  In short, I had to be the mean mom that I never wanted to be--and it was my job. I was bumbling and incompetent at my task, and tended to sway between hesitant, wimpy permissiveness when no one was watching, and hysterical shrewishness when I was being observed.

However, there was another counselor my age, whippet-thin, cool and icy, who took a ironic disdain for the rules. Her campers were always perfectly behaved, but she seemed to lead them with a kind of ironic bravado, as if she knew how ridiculous it was that you weren't allowed to grab a muffin but had to do 'morning check in.'

She was nice to me, but I remember in particular one night standing there, when all of the other counselors were talking, and I watched her playing basketball and holding her own with a group of male counselors, just like she was able to 'play' with the temperaments of her campers and our bosses and always win. And beating them on the court and at life, and making them like her for it, as well.

 I felt (and was) physically as well as mentally flabby.  Ever since then I've tried to get 'better' at so many things, and while there are many dreadful aspects about being in your 20s, at least you know, theoretically that you are on an upward trajectory, even if your path to greatness is more up a molehill than Everest.

Depressingly, I am still the nineteen-year-old inside wishing that I was the girl who could play basketball with the cute boys and beat them.   Only just with lots of more mileage on my eyes, and on all of the other bits and pieces.

After that experience at the eye doctor, I decided I needed a sure-fire winner of a recipe.  Two of my favorite bloggers and peanut butter lovers, Anna of Cookie Madness, and Adam of The Baker's Nuts, had made these peanut butter oatmeal cookies and called them near-perfect. The cookies are unusual because they are dairy-free, unlike most (non-vegan, anyway) oatmeal cookies.  Adam made some changes to the original, and got a much higher yield of cookies. I used Anna's version, with only a few small alterations, and got exactly 36. 

I decided to 'blossom' some of the cookies or decorate them with a flower of salted peanuts, rather than using cranberries and walnuts.

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies

--yields 36 cookies--

3/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup smooth peanut butter
2 large, beaten eggs
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups quick rolled oats
36 Hershey's Kisses OR salted peanuts (for decorating)

1. Preheat oven to 375F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. Mix oil, peanut butter, and eggs together in a bowl.
3. Sift sugars, baking powder and soda, salt, cinnamon, flour, and oats together. Incorporate 'dry' mixture into the wet.
4. Scoop in rounded tablespoons onto the parchment sheets. Bake for approximately 10 minutes.  While still cooling press an unwrapped Hershey's Kiss onto the surface of each cookie, or decorate with salted peanuts.


  1. @The Blonde Duck--I think you would like them! I hope they aren't too sweet for you, and they are very easy--no need to cream butter (and some people like the fact that don't have butter, which is viewed as heart-healthier, although butter doesn't bother me!).

  2. I got that ALL DOWNHILL feeling last year when I had to get a nightguard to keep from grinding my teeth in my sleep. And I suspect that this year my eye doctor is going to tell me it's time for bifocals. All I need now is a walker, an ear cone, and a sleep apnea mask.

  3. Thanks for the shout out Mary :)! I'm still baffled by how I ended up with so many more cookies even though I didn't really do THAT much to the recipe, but whatever, more to go around (or not :)). I know Anna's recipe is probably a little sweeter than mine but how did you find them with the chocolate?
    And you have reminded me that I should probably go to the ophthalmologist as well. I had glasses about 11 years ago, and when they broke, never bothered to get new ones... *eye roll* :).

  4. I just noticed you used rounded tablespoons, whereas I used "rounded" teaspoons, that would definitely account for the discrepancy :).

  5. @Flurrious--my dentist once suggested I get a night guard--but that was in my twenties, rather than recently! If it is any consolation, it has more to do with teeth grinding out of tension than getting older!

    @Adam--that would explain it! Anna's recipe was a 36 yield, but if you used teaspoons rather than tablespoons, it's easy to have gotten double that number! I usually like saltier cookies, but the people I shared them with had no complaints! I think the bittersweet Kisses and/or the salted peanuts were a nice contrast with the sweetness. I usually start by making the 'base' recipe, and then reducing the sugar the second time I make them--on the second 'go' I will give your lower sugar version a try.

    I'm envious of anyone who can CHOOSE not to wear glasses--I don't think I could make it out of my house without my contact lenses!