All right, so last Monday morning wasn’t exactly my proudest parenting moment. But you can’t really blame me. No. It’s not my fault how I was raised. You see, when I was young and my siblings and I would scrape a knee, cut a finger, crack our heads open or break an arm, my father would simply say to us, “Ah, come on. Put a bottle cap on it and let’s go.” Sometimes he’d have an actual bottle cap and sometimes it was just enough to say it. We never knew exactly what the bottle cap did but we were under the impression that it must hold some mystical healing powers since he said it so often.
Now, I can’t say I use the actual bottle cap phrase on my own children (although he does) but having it said so much to me as a child has rendered me fairly impatient with situations involving injury or ailments. Oh sure, I’m good for the first 24 hours or so. Warm wash clothes on foreheads. The stroking of the hair. The head cocked sympathetically, as each ailment is communicated. The proper, “Oh, sweetie. I’m sorry you don’t feel well.” Deliveries of tea, ginger ale, toast and applesauce. But once the 24 hours is up, I’ve been known to say to an ailing child wanting my help, “Why don’t you just go get a “bucket”?” or “You know where the band-aids and neosporin are.” or “I don’t know what to tell you. There’s ginger ale in the fridge.” Clearly, I’d never have made a good doctor or nurse. My sweetie has the better bedside manner and patience for matters such as these.
And so it was that my dear daughter contracted some version of a stomach virus that just went on and on and on. Week after week. Over 3 weeks to be exact. Of course, I felt for her. What could be worse but what about me? I could get absolutely nothing done. Especially with the false alarms where she’d think she felt well enough to go to school so I’d drive her there only to arrive at her school to find her pale as a ghost, flush and reaching for the bucket (even though this particular stomach virus never actually required the use of said “bucket.”) So, back home we’d go. Practically an hour round trip. Then, being the trooper that she is, she’d want to try again at lunch time, bless her heart. I finally put an end to that. “If you don’t go in the morning, we’re not trying again later.” I was spending my whole day in the car. My patience was waning and to top it off, I was starting to panic. “She’s missed so much school. What if I can’t get her to go back? Ever? And, I have to homeschool her?” God, help me.
Which brings us up to last Monday morning. Patience gone. Panic set in. Once again, I’d driven her to school only to arrive and have her say to me, “I just can’t go in there. I don’t feel well.” At that exact moment, I thought I might lose my mind. I should have taken a cue from my father and said, “Well, sweetie, you’re going to have to put a bottle cap on it. Now, grab your backpack and head on in.” But, no. I have to launch into a speech in that “tone”, you know the one, on how she’s going to have to buck up. “Sometimes you just have to deal. We don’t always feel good. You can be at home sitting in front of the TV, not feeling well or at school, sitting in a classroom in front of your teachers, not feeling well. What’s the difference?!” On and on I went, stopping only when I finally noticed that my sweet girl had tears sliding down her face. Well, if that didn’t just slap a load of guilt right on my back. Reluctantly and sheepishly, all at the same time, I pulled out of the drop-off line and into an actual parking spot. I pulled out my phone and called the doctor’s office. I’m not one to ever take my children in to the doctor’s office for run-of-the-mill childhood illnesses but I had to admit that this had lasted quite some time. Silently, we drove there. Me feeling like a selfish mother, she feeling…well, not good. As I thought, the doctor told us to just let it run its course but somehow, that seemed to make my daughter feel better.
Wednesday morning was glorious. The sun was out. The air was fresh from the recent rain. I was actually showered and dressed in something other than the standard issue black athletic wear. And, wonder of wonder, my daughter felt great. I had her loaded up along with the 5-year old and we were headed out of the neighborhood. And, not only that but, miracle of miracles, I was also going to get them there on time. For the first time in many weeks, everyone would be at school. I would have an entire day to myself. I could barely contain my excitement. Windows down. Music playing. Whistling. Humming. Toe tapping. And then, the phone rings. “Carrie, we have your son here in the office. He says his stomach isn’t feeling well. We think you should come get him.” If at that moment, I had a towel, I would have thrown it. I drove for a moment in disbelief and then, I slowly turned the car around. Picked up my guy. Settled him in at home. Dropped the other two at school and then, came home and made Chocolate and Cherry Oatmeal cookies. As I sank into the couch next to my buddy and devoured one after the other of these sinfully delicious little chewy bites of heaven, I told myself to buck up. “Ah, come on now. Put a bottle cap on it. What’s a few more weeks?” Somehow, the cookies helped.
Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Cookies with Pecans and Dried Cherries
(Adapted from Seven Spoons recipe of the same name)
Just like my nursing skills, I don’t have a lot of patience with baking nuances as well. Below I’ve typed out how I made these cookies which turned out scrumptiously delicious but for you baking purists out there, here’s a link to the original recipe in its entirety, with all of the proper little baking details included. I discovered this recipe last fall on Tara’s delightful food blog, Seven Spoons, and have been waiting for just the right moment to make the chewy little morsels. Well, the moment presented itself. I made half of my batch with the pecans and half without, since my 10-year old is allergic to nuts. And, let me just say, unless you have the same nut issue, don’t leave out the pecans. They are what takes a rather ordinary oatmeal cookie and elevates it to sinful. I loved them so much I made them twice…in two days.
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
(I actually used half all-purpose and half whole-wheat pastry flour)
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 c unsalted butter, softened but not too warm
1 1/2 c packed dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 c old-fashioned rolled oats
1 c pecans, toasted and chopped
1 c dried cherries chopped coarse (or cranberries, if you please)
3/4 cup dark chocolate chips, I used Guittard
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Use parchment paper to line several standard baking sheets and set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Next, add the egg and vanilla and beat until incorporated.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl, turn the mixer down to low and add the flour mixture to the bowl. Stir until just combined. Then, with a wooden spoon, stir in the oats, nuts, cherries and chocolate and stir just until combined evenly throughout the dough.
Drop by tablespoons onto the cookie sheets at least 1 inch apart. Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes or until the cookies are uniformly golden, but still wet in the middle. You might think they’re undercooked but they’re not….resist the urge to overbake. They will set up further as they cool.
Remove from the oven and cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack. Store cooled cookies in an airtight container at room temperature.
Yield: about 2 dozen.
All original text and photographs copyright: Carrie Minns 2009-2010