There are lights consuming the yard and all its trees and bushes, like lightning bugs and glow in the dark snakes in a game of hide-and-go-seek. The yard is so blanketed in lights that after being outside long enough, your eyes adjust to the brightness and you forget how dark the sky really is; this the winter wonderland that is my grandparents’ house. As soon as you are able to pass through the front door, an enormous 12-foot tree smacks you in the face with Christmas. It’s decorated with gold and silver bows, grapes, bulbs, icicles, and angels. If only it were a real tree…time to compensate with a jarred Pine Tree-scented candle. Christmas just isn’t Christmas without that crisp smell from the needles of a fresh tree. Once you fully take in the over-sized tree, you meander around the house and something strikes you instantly: someone in the household has a Santa-complex. That would be Gram. There are Santas in all three bathrooms, bedrooms, family room, living room, dining room, and office – the only room left untouched by mistletoe, festive garland, and copious santa figures is the kitchen. I’ll have to get back to you on the final Santa count but there’s eleven in the room I’m on now. Just to give you a heads up. There isn’t a soul on this Earth that likes Christmas more than she does. Not one.
To really kick-off the Christmas season, the city of Modesto holds an annual lights parade in the downtown area. My uncle owns and operates a mechanic shop in town and contends in the parade every year (only to win), having a caravan of light-adorned Jeeps driven by tough manly men. Things were shaken up a bit this year as I, a little 20-year old school girl, joined the ranks of such masculinity in the brisk evening air.
And I don’t even like parades.
In high school I was in the marching band and we always participated in the community parades downtown. So naturally, I’ve grown to despise them. I should be okay though: it’s been nearly 4 years since I’ve marched down a crowded street, barely moving; using my peripherals to check the lines for straightness while tonguing notes and pressing and holding an array of buttons, my mind buzzing with the melodies of our marching band songs while remembering to keep in step.
Well now you know another thing about me: band geek! Yeah, whatever; I was one of the cool kids on the bandy scene. Really, I was.
But this parade was huge. Kids from the side-walk would yell one of two things: begging for me to honk the horn or ‘Meeeerry Christmas!’ It was pretty fun spending the entire afternoon be-dazzling the Jeep with my Pappa (and the other manly men). There is constant competition between them all and in their efforts to have the best light show, everyone made a trip to the store to pick up more lights for their Jeeps. One perk of having at least one girl attend such an event: she brings cookies and urns of hot cocoooa!
I’ve been wanting to make these cookies for awhile now. I love a good vegan cookie and oatmeal cookies, so the two together should be magical, right? I wasn’t so sure after the first batch came out of the oven. The batter was a bit runnier than most, which didn’t concern me one bit. I placed them on a cookie sheet, punched in the time on the oven timer and waited. The timer buzzed, I opened the oven eagerly with mitten protected hands and found that the cookies had puddled into each other, even though I had given them ample spaced to spread out. Maybe I did something wrong…maybe this recipe is just a dud?
I allowed for the cookies to cool, gambling on whether or not they would firm up; I wasn’t optimistic but it didn’t hurt to wait. I sure am glad that I did. It wasn’t what I’d expected but these cookies were scrumptious and buttery, just as a proper cookie should be. What I particularly love about them: the buttery taste and texture as well as the super flat, crunchy edges and gooey center. A proper, proper cookie; much too delicate for dunking, let alone handling, but perfect crumpled up and with a side mug of hot cocoa. Santa would surely be impressed by the taste of these guys…you might have to write a note to sell him on even trying one, but once he does, he won’t need further convincing. Looks alone might not seal the deal.
Flat and chewy oatmeal cookies
(adapted from Everybody Likes Sandwiches)
yielded 12 cookies
Dry: 1 c rolled oats
3/4 c AP flour
1/3 c brown sugar
1 t cream of tartar
1 t baking soda
1 t cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
1/2 t sea salt
Wet: 1/3 c maple syrup
1/2 c canola oil
1 t vanilla
1/4 c dried cranberries
1/4 c pepitas
1/4 c flaked coconut
Preheat oven to 350˚ and line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, whisk to combine wet ingredients. Add wet ingredients to dry, mixing until just combined. Stir in cranberries, pepitas, and coconut until evenly distributed throughout the dough. Shape and roll dough into tablespoon-sized balls and place onto the prepared cookie sheets, spaced 2-inches apart. Slightly flatten with your hands, for they will not spread much while baking.
Bake for 8-12 minutes or until slightly golden and set on the outside. Transfer onto a wire rack and let cool until they can be handled without singeing your taste buds completely. Store in an airtight container or leave out for people to munch.