October 5, 2009

Pagans & raisins

"This was the second time in his life he had seen raisins. He removed them from what they claimed was 'shepherd's pie.' He laid them side by side, along the borders of the dinner plate. The plate was painted with pagan scenes. He began to obscure the images with raisins. It was not calculated. He was in too much distress for calculation.
The first time he had eaten raisins was in that so-called 'fruit of Satan'--the Christmas pudding."
--Oscar and Lucinda, Peter Carey
This book is really reminding me of James Joyce's stuff for some reason. I like it so far, if only for the fact that the chapter titles include "Christmas Pudding" and "Raisins".

Speaking of raisins, yesterday I baked oatmeal cookies and hesitated, as I always do, at the last step where one might add raisins and/or nuts to the dough. I'm kind of an oatmeal cookie purist. As you can see from the photo above, not a speck of dried grape is to be found in those cookies. I prefer my oats without raisins, but I know many people prefer raisins in their oatmeal cookies. Sometimes I make an exception and add chocolate chips. For some reason, chocolate doesn't offend me when it's added to most desserts. Dried fruit, on the other hand, I have less patience for. Still, I wouldn't go so far as to call raisins "the fruit of Satan" like Oscar's dad up there.

Recipe follows.

Oatmeal Cookies
Adapted from Simply Recipes
Yields approx. 15 cookies

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
scant 1/2 cup white sugar
3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup raisins (optional)
1/2 cup chocolate chips (also optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Beat the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla extract and mix until combined.

Mix the dry ingredients in a separate bowl and incorporate them into the wet ingredients. Add the oats and any optional mix-ins last. Drop tablespoonfuls onto a cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes if you like them chewy, 12 minutes if you like them regular, and 14 minutes if you want 'em crispy.

So are you a puritan or pagan when it comes to your oatmeal cookies? Walnuts, raisins, butterscotch chips, chocolate chips...all these items speak persuasively for the pagan side. But those who crave simplicity aren't so easily swayed. Not to mention the age-old chewy vs. crispy debate...who knew cookies were so religious and political? Ha.


Katherine Han said...

I have had these cookies, and they are mighty delicious.

Christine said...

WHAT?! How is chocolate somehow less offensive than dried fruit?