Sunday Afternoon Coffee: Old Fashioned/New-Fangled Oatmeal Cocoanut Cookies
Not for church this time: I seriously doubt these will last that long! Sunday afternoon quiet finds me puttering in the kitchen making a variation on an old-time family favourite from my Saskatchewan Grandmother’s CCF cookbook dated 1947.
While the internet is an amazing resource, there’s something soul-stirring about leafing through this piece of Canadian domestic history: so many recipes are “eggless” or “flourless”; “butterless” or even “sugarless” as scarcity and rationing challenged the creativity of women across the country trying to make appetizing meals and treats. I wonder how Mrs. D.J. Macdonald figured out that she could substitute Jelly powder for sugar in her “original cookies”? Did Mrs. A. Marchant from Westbank, BC pick her own Queen Ann cherries for homemade Maraschino cherries? And what would V.M. McKechnie from Tuffnell, Saskatchewan think of me sitting here with my computer on my lap typing in my variations on her recipe for Oatmeal Cocoanut [her spelling] cookies?
I’m sure she’d be amazed at the variety of options in my cupboard: if she was like my grandmother, she probably added a handful of raisins as a treat for special occasions. Dried cranberries would seem exotic beyond imagining! (Not to mention my precious stand mixer with its large capacity bowl and specially designed beaters!) I picture her sitting down at her kitchen table to write a “good copy” of her favourite recipe and mailing it to the CCF volunteer assembling the book. What would she think of a “blog post” that will reach all of you with a click of the Publish button?
Our pantries, our kitchens and our methods of sharing have changed, but Mrs. McKechnie and I have a common aim: letting other cooks and their families enjoy recipes that work for us. I hope Mr. McKechnie enjoyed the cookies his wife made as much as Frank is enjoying these. I hope you do too.
OLD FASHIONED/NEW FANGLED OATMEAL COCO(A)NUT COOKIES
(original Recipe by VM McKechnie, Tuffnel Saskatchewan in Canadian Favorites [2nd edition] published by the CCF in 1947)
375° oven for about 12-14 minutes
Makes 4 dozen 2″ cookies
- 1 cup butter (margarine really doesn’t work as well)
- 2 cups brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- 2 cups oatmeal OR
- 1 cup rolled oats [NOT instant oatmeal]
- 1 cup multi-grain cereal meant for porridge and baking [I use Rogers 9-grain]
- 1 cup unsweetened coconut
- 1 ½-2 cups flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- a couple of handfuls of raisins, dried cranberries, or other dried fruit [I used Craisins®] and/or
- ½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Cream butter together with brown sugar until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and beat well.
Mix oatmeal [or oats and multigrain cereal] together with cocoanut, baking powder and 1 cup of the flour. Add to butter mixture. Stir in any additions you choose. Add enough additional flour to allow you to handle the dough without it becoming too crumbly: I usually find that an additional 1/2 cup is all I need.
Roll walnut-sized balls and place on ungreased cookie sheets. Flatten with a fork dipped in water. Bake in 375º oven about 12 minutes until golden brown. I find I have to switch the pans halfway through the baking time to get even browning. Cool on pan for a couple of minutes then transfer to racks to cool completely.
These freeze well….at least I’m pretty sure they do. Frozen cookies apparently taste pretty good too, so they’re always all gone by the time I get to the freezer! These are crispy rather than chewy, so I store them in a closed container.
Hope you enjoy making your own variation. If you know anyone from Mrs. McKechnie’s family, tell them my family says “thanks!”