For the first thirteen years of my life, 18 December was a day where we gathered around a table, with cake and ice cream, to celebrate the birth of my Great Oma. Despite the fact that she's been gone for eleven years, I still consider 18 December to be her day. So today I celebrate the life of my favorite woman in the entirety of existence, because doing anything else just seems wrong.
That lady, I miss her deep wrinkles and unintentional frown. I miss the way we used to spend late mornings in our pajamas, watching the Price is Right. I’d try my best to sync the rocking chair to the tick of the clock, and she’d crochet on the couch across the room. I never liked that couch, but I liked watching her crochet. Her knobby fingers were quick, creating cloths we would use to wash dishes, and delicate pink doilies that would line the bottoms of things capable of scratching her fine wood tables. I didn’t know it then, but a few of those doilies would later adorn my bedside table. I miss the way she used to spoon sugar over my bran flakes, and the look she'd give me when I'd ask for Just one more spoonful, please? She's the reason bran cereal is the only cereal I'll ever eat. Except now I eat it sans sugar and have a tendency to drown it in almond milk. I miss sneaking into her bedroom and going through the tray of clip-on earrings she tucked into the top drawer of her dresser. After all these years, I can still hear her lecturing me about her thoughts on pierced ears - If God wanted us to have holes in our earlobes, he'd have put them there!
These cookies, they're a jazzed up version of the ones we used to make together. I can still picture her standing at the kitchen counter, hunched over the mixing bowl trying to scrape every last bit of shortening from the measuring cup. She'd spoon the dough onto a baking sheet, put the cookies into the oven, then sit down at the breakfast nook and tend to her crocheting. She was always crocheting, and I was always waiting for the cookies to finish baking. Like the anxious child I was, I'd sit right in front of the oven - nose pressed up against the window - watching the cookies as they came to life.
Sometimes I close my eyes and picture myself as that blonde haired girl sitting cross-legged in front of a 350˚ oven. In this moment I can feel her sitting within arm's reach. I can hear her humming and tapping her foot to the beat of some made up tune, and I can smell the cookies baking in the oven. This moment, it grounds me and reminds me to breathe. It reminds me that all I have to do is close my eyes and there she is, living in my memory; sitting right beside me, just as she had never left.
As the days pass, I find myself missing her more and more. I long for her wisdom and warmth, and the way she used to embrace my shoulders and kiss my forehead one thousand times. But more than anything, I long to be that small girl again, baking alongside her in the kitchen. I didn't appreciate it much then, but those moments of baking together so perfectly illustrate my childhood. I was lucky to call her mine for thirteen whole years.
To my sweet lady in the sky, I love you immensely. And I will never stop celebrating you.
Notes: These cookies are delicate and more complicated than your average cookie, but they're worth the extra effort. If dark chocolate + toasted coconut aren't your thing, you should probably see a doctor. Just kidding - omit them and add something else. Or add nothing. The cookies can be made gluten free by replacing the spelt flour with a gluten free flour blend (I recommend 1/2 cup all purpose + 1/2 cup buckwheat), but make sure you add 1/4 teaspoon of xanthan gum. I use unsweetened shaved coconut, but if you plan on using that moist, stringy crap, I recommend finely chopping it first. Also, how to toast coconut.
DARK CHOCOLATE COCONUT OATMEAL COOKIES
1 cup spelt flour
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cup unrefined coconut oil, softened
1/2 cup coconut milk fat
2/3 cup muscovado sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 flax egg
3/4 cup coarsely ground rolled oats
1/2 cup toasted coconut shavings
1/3 cup chopped dark chocolate
Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line two large baking sheets with a silicone mat or parchment paper; set aside. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, and cinnamon; set aside. In a small mixing bowl, cream together the oil, milk fat, sugar and vanilla extract using a hand mixer on high speed; blend for 45-60 seconds. Add the flax egg and mix just until incorporated. If you can see clumps of coconut oil (which may develop when you add the cold flax egg), set the bowl on top of your warm oven and continue mixing, just until the clumps dissolve. Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture in two parts; stirring after each addition. Once the dough is combined, mix in the oats, coconut, and chocolate. Dough is best if wrapped in plastic and refrigerated overnight - but if you don't have time for that, proceed to the next step. I figured most of you wouldn't have time.
Using a medium (1 1/2 tablespoon) cookie scoop, drop the dough onto the prepared baking sheet; flatten with the palm of your hand. Their shape won't change much in the oven, so flatten to whatever thickness you prefer. Bake at 350˚F for 8 minutes. Cool on a wire rack, then store in an air tight container for up to three days.
Yield: 30 cookies