If you fail, try, try again. But how many times do you keep trying before you just give up and call it quits?
Long ago I came to realize that no matter how hard I train, the Olympics would forever be out of my reach. A trip to the moon to retrieve that golf ball will never happen.
And regardless of the number of times I tweak the recipe, my oatmeal raisin cookies have never, and will never, turn out like my mom’s.
Some things are better left to the experts. Baking cookies is one of those things.
Taste and smell are the two senses that bring back the most vivid memories of childhood days. At 110 Flamingo Street we knew spring was right around the corner when, early Saturday morning, our house was filled with the aroma of Mom’s oatmeal raisin cookies.
By noon, there were three dozen soft, gooey cookies cooling on the baker’s rack next to the avocado green refrigerator. And they were all ours — if we four boys did just one thing.
After stuffing lunch bags full of the delectable morsels, she handed them to us with strict instructions, “Now you boys go outside and play, and don’t come back until dinnertime.”
What a deal! Before leaving the kitchen, we all took turns chipping chunks of ice off the sides of the avocado green freezer. Nothing goes better with mom’s oatmeal raisin cookies than freezer ice.
Funny, during all of those springs, not once did anyone of us ever wonder why our sister stayed behind in the kitchen with Mom. I guess we were too busy playing and sharing our cookies and freezer ice with the kids in the neighbor.
Little did we know how brilliant our mom actually was – and sneaky. She had to be. It was the only way to survive when you have five kids.
March meant certain annual chores had to be done. Our backyard garden down by the swamp needed to be tilled and amended for the April planting.
The rest of the leaves we didn’t rake during the winter needed to be raked up and burned.
And all toys that were launched to the moon during the long winter needed to be retrieved off the roof before the spring rain started.
Oh, and Mom and the sister needed to defrost the freezer part of the Avocado green refrigerator.
Unbeknownst to us boys, we were a big help with the defrosting process. It seems that in our excitement to get outside and play, none of us noticed that we were the ones chipping the major ice chunks off the inside of the freezer while the sister and mom sat back and smiled. The cookies were just a diversionary tactic used by one very shrewd mom.
Even so, anytime I pass a bakery and smell oatmeal cookies, two things happen. I’m immediately brought back to those good times on Flamingo Street.
Then I go home and try to recreate mom’s recipe, always ending with the same sad results. My cookies and I have been measured. And both have come up lacking.
My most recent failure occurred last weekend. After a delightful lunch out with The Wife, we walked past the downtown bakery. The odor of warm cookies wafting out the front door drew us in, and, yes, they had hot oatmeal raisin cookies.
Not as good a mom’s, mind you, but pretty darn good. Again I went home and tried — and failed — to reproduce a memory from some 40 years ago. Covered in sugar and flour, I sat dejectedly at the kitchen table, head in hands. That’s when The Wife walked in and asked if she could help.
After explaining my cookie dilemma, she smiled, walked over to the oatmeal box and held up the top. “Why don’t you just follow the recipe printed on the inside of the lid?”
Much to my enjoyment, less than an hour later, we had three dozen of Mom’s oatmeal raisin cookies cooling on the baker’s rack next to the refrigerator.
Unfortunately, due to the modern comfort of self-defrosting freezers, there was no freezer ice to wash them down with. I had to settle for an adult beverage from the basement.
I wonder. Maybe The Wife can find Mom’s chocolate chip cookie recipe.