Oatmeal chocolate chip pecan praline cookies

Oatmeal chocolate chip pecan praline cookies

Oatmeal chocolate chip pecan praline cookies

Where I’m from, the kids used to run around the neighborhood like wild things. We’d chart the in-between places, behind garages alongside hedges, in parking lots and alleys. We played tag and hide and seek, we ran around with bows and arrows made out of sticks and string, and we never crossed the street. We played stickball and climbed trees and spied: we had secret hand signals and elaborate stories about the goings on of the neighborhood. At night we dared each other to run down to the next corner and touch the mailbox. It was a small town and when we were older we’d walk the streets endlessly, night and day, looking for anyone we knew. When somebody learned to drive we’d all pile in the car and drive around the streets slowly, looking for anyone we knew or we’d drive right out of town and feel like we were free, like we were flying. We’d go to parties and drink sweet sickening drinks and dance to the Beastie Boys and the Violent Femmes. In the summer we’d drive to the shore and sneak over tall walls onto private beaches, and swim in the ocean at night. It was all remarkably uneventful, though it felt full of meaning and drama at the time.

I like songs about home, about where people are from and when they’re from. Like Mos Def’s Habitat.

    When I think of home, my remembrance of my beginning
    Laundromat helping ma dukes fold the bed linen
    Chillin in front my building with my brother and them
    Spending nights in Bushwick with my cousins and them
    Wise town and Beat Street, federal relief
    Slowly melting in the morning grits we used to eat
    Sticking to your teeth and teeth is hard to keep
    With every flavor Now & Later only a dime apiece
    Old timers on the bench playing cards and thangs
    Telling tales about they used to be involved in things
    Start to drinking, talking loud, cussing up and showing out
    On the phone, call the cops, pick’em up, move’em out
    And it’s all too common to start wildin
    I’m a pirate on an island seeking treasure known as silence
    And it’s hard to find

Or Dungeon Family’s White Gutz

    Sitting on 400 wides that’s what they love
    Incense swingin from the mirror that’s what they love
    Six course licked with the glaze that’s what they love
    drive with the dealership tag that’s what they love
    hairbone strayed on my shoulder that’s what they love
    the smell of new leather in the cold that’s what they love
    strawhat V-neck t’s that what they love
    moonroof open blowing smoke that’s what they love
    Romeo cologne every week that’s what they love
    that’s what they love

Or K’naan’s My Old Home

    My old home smelled of good birth
    Boiled red beans, kernel oil and hand me down poetry
    It’s brick white-washed walls widowed by first paint
    The tin roof top humming songs of promise while time is
    Locked into demonic rhythm with the leaves
    The trees had to win
    Hugging them, loving them a torturous love
    Buggin’ when
    It was over and done
    The round cemented pot kept the rain drops cool
    Neighbors and dwellers spatter in the pool
    Kids playin football with his hand and sock
    We had what we got, and it wasn’t a lot

So the subject of today’s Sunday Interactive Playlist is Where I’m From. It’s a song about the place and time that made you. The song doesn’t have to be about where you’re from, or even where the singer is from, just a song about somebody’s home.

Oatmeal chocolate chip pecan praline cookies

Oatmeal chocolate chip pecan praline cookies

Two recipes in a row with pecan praline in them? Yes, indeed. I had some leftover, and I thought it would be good with chocolate chips. So I actually made even more, because it’s so completely easy to make. And then I combined it with oats and put it in cookies. Oatmeal chocolate chip cookies are our natural anti-depressant, here at The Ordinary, and it’s been a long, cold winter!

Here’s a link to your interactive playlist. Add what you like! Or make a suggestion in the comments and I’ll add it through the week.

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Chocolate oatmeal cookies

Chocolate oatmeal cookies

Chocolate oatmeal cookies

Steenbeck died a year ago. I can’t believe it’s been so long, I can’t get my mind around how quickly this year has passed. My memory is shot (I forgot to bring my wallet to the grocery store yesterday!) but I remember the day of Steenbeck’s death with unusual clarity. I was wearing grey jeans and a grey shirt with a big black beetle on it. I was in a foul mood, because I’d had a bad weekend at work and I hadn’t slept well and I was worried about the dog. I yelled at everyone before school, and they looked almost frightened of me. I yelled at the dog because she couldn’t stand up. I regretted all of it, of course, the second the boys were out the door. The day was unseasonably, ridiculously warm and sunny, it was hard to stay cranky for long. I made grits, and I don’t think I’d ever made them before. I turned them into grit cakes for dinner, which were delicious, but I regretted it later because I shouldn’t have stood at the stove cooking grits, I should have spent the time with Steenbeck. I went to the store and came back late to pick up the boys, so I left the dog in the yard, because she liked to stand in the sunshine, swaying on her shaky old legs, staring at nothing. I didn’t have time to say goodbye, I didn’t want to be late to school.
And six months later we got Clio, although mere weeks before I swore I’d never be ready for another dog. I remember that day with odd clarity as well, but I won’t bore you with the details. I can’t believe we’ve known her six months! It feels as though we’ve just met. It feels as though I’ve known her forever! I was thinking that it’s funny that we named her Clio, the muse of history, because dogs are natural historians, uncovering layer upon layer of the past with their sharp noses. And I feel as though I could measure out my life according to the dogs we had. From childhood dogs to Steenbeck, the first dog that was my adult responsibility, a daughter-dog, if you will. And now to Clio, who is my son’s first puppy. I could define eras in my life by which dog we owned at the time. I have a little memory of myself as a changing person with each dog, like a polaroid snapshot. Tessie died after I’d left for college, which felt like growing up, and felt horrible. A few years later I tried to adopt Easy and couldn’t do it, I wasn’t ready. Which felt like not growing up at all. Memories of Clio will be so vivid to my boys – how she cuddles with them when they’re sick, how she races around like a mad thing when they play in the yard. Clio is so much like Steenbeck that it’s spooky at times, it’s like history repeating itself. It might seem strange to say it, but when Steenbeck died, it felt as though she’d already left some hours or days before. Her body was stiff and her eyes were vacant. All summer I felt her spirit in the yard, or maybe I just needed to. I’d sit out in the dark warm night and talk to her. We don’t know for sure how old Clio is, but it’s less than a year. I suppose this is something I need to believe, too – that when Clio makes a certain face, or stretches in a certain way, or gives me a look with her bright, smart eyes… Well, it’s too foolish to put into words! But my memories of Steenbeck are fading into my knowledge of Clio, and I don’t feel as bad about it as I might, I think she’d understand. I suppose it’s a comfort to believe that everything is connected. It’s all a part of our history, of ourselves as changing people, moving through the world.

This year the last days of winter are decidedly not unseasonably warm! The weather is grey and icy and dripping. And so, we made chocolate oatmeal cookies. Our natural antidepressant. This is a sort of variation on oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, I suppose, with a little element of flapjack thrown in. The chips are melted, but not incorporated too thoroughly, so you find some nice patches of solid, soft chocolate. The cookies are quite crispy, very tasty, and very comforting.

Here’s Dog on Wheels by Belle and Sebastian. It’s not a real dog, but it’s a childhood memory.

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Oatmeal chocolate chip cookies with ginger and marmalade

Oatmeal, chocolate chip, marmalade, ginger cookies

Oatmeal, chocolate chip, marmalade, ginger cookies

Happy birthday, Robert Burns! Surely Burns is another ordinary poet laureate. Born in poverty, mostly self-educated, called “the ploughman poet,” Burns wrote about lice and mice and love and revolution. His poems are simple, honest and direct, but full of music in their words and rhythms. He collected Scottish folk songs, and adapted these as poetry, and adapted his poems as songs. He spoke of the value of simple things and honesty over dissemblance and finery…

    What though on hamely fare we dine,
    Wear hoddin grey, an’ a’ that?
    Gie fools their silks, and knaves their wine,
    A man’s a man for a’ that.
    For a’ that, an’ a’ that,
    Their tinsel show, an’ a’ that,
    The honest man, tho’ e’er sae poor,
    Is king o’ men for a’ that.

And he prayed for a time when, the world over, we’d recognize the value of sense and worth, and me would live as equals, as brothers.

    Then let us pray that come it may,
    (As come it will for a’ that,)
    That Sense and Worth, o’er a’ the earth,
    Shall bear the gree, an’ a’ that.
    For a’ that, an’ a’ that,
    It’s comin yet for a’ that
    That man to man, the world o’er,
    Shall brithers be for a’ that.

One of my favorites, which makes me like Burns so much, is To a Mouse, on Turning Up Her Nest With a Plough, November 1785. It’s so sweet and specific, so compassionate and thoughtful, a gentle reflection on the value of all life, the universal anxiety of surviving winter’s hardships, and on memory and anticipation, as well. (But do mice remember? Do they look ahead? They might! We’d never know!)

    Wee, sleekit, cow’rin, tim’rous beastie,
    O, what a panic’s in thy breastie!
    Thou need na start awa sae hasty
    Wi bickering brattle!
    I wad be laith to rin an’ chase thee,
    Wi’ murdering pattle.

    I’m truly sorry man’s dominion
    Has broken Nature’s social union,
    An’ justifies that ill opinion
    Which makes thee startle
    At me, thy poor, earth born companion
    An’ fellow mortal!

    I doubt na, whyles, but thou may thieve;
    What then? poor beastie, thou maun live!
    A daimen icker in a thrave
    ‘S a sma’ request;
    I’ll get a blessin wi’ the lave,
    An’ never miss’t.

    Thy wee-bit housie, too, in ruin!
    It’s silly wa’s the win’s are strewin!
    An’ naething, now, to big a new ane,
    O’ foggage green!
    An’ bleak December’s win’s ensuin,
    Baith snell an’ keen!

    Thou saw the fields laid bare an’ waste,
    An’ weary winter comin fast,
    An’ cozie here, beneath the blast,
    Thou thought to dwell,
    Till crash! the cruel coulter past
    Out thro’ thy cell.

    That wee bit heap o’ leaves an’ stibble,
    Has cost thee monie a weary nibble!
    Now thou’s turned out, for a’ thy trouble,
    But house or hald,
    To thole the winter’s sleety dribble,
    An’ cranreuch cauld.

    But Mousie, thou art no thy lane,
    In proving foresight may be vain:
    The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
    Gang aft agley,
    An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
    For promis’d joy!

    Still thou are blest, compared wi’ me!
    The present only toucheth thee:
    But och! I backward cast my e’e,
    On prospects drear!
    An’ forward, tho’ I canna see,
    I guess an’ fear!

lacy cookie

lacy cookie

I’m not going to tell you about vegetarian haggis, because I did that last year. Instead, I’m going to tell you about these cookies. When I was making these cookies, I jokingly called them “Scottish cookies.” They’re not at all really. David’s grandparents are from Dundee and Motherwell, which makes Malcolm and Isaac Scottish, and when I want them to eat certain things, I’ll say, “You’re Scottish, you have to like it.” Amongst these things are oats and marmalade. Remember this joke?

    An English man and a Scottish man are sitting in the pub and the English fellow is teasing the Scot: ‘Isn’t it funny that you Scottish people eat so much porridge and oats? We only feed that stuff to the horses!’ ‘Aye’ replies the Scot, ‘that’s why the English have the finest horses, and the Scottish have the strongest men.’

And, according to my understanding, golden syrup was invented by a Scot as well. So these cookies have all those things. (And the boys did like them, they liked them very much indeed!) The first two batches I made didn’t have enough flour, and I had to literally scrape them off the pan in one big, delicious, crumbled mess of oats and chocolate, all caramelized and crispy. (We ate it all!) Once I’d added a bit more flour, the cookies held together better. They’re still light and crisp and lacy, and you have to let them sit for a minute before you take them off the sheet, and they’re absolutely delicious. They have a real caramelly, toffeeish quality.

A delicious mess!

A delicious mess!

Here’s Jean Redpath’s hauntingly simple rendition of Auld Lang Syne

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