outrageous oatmeal cookies

EVERY COOK has go-to recipes for certain occasions.  Those tried-and-true recipes that are guaranteed, barring a gas leak, a broken stove, or an act of God, to impress.  The only downside for these recipes, of course, is that there are never any leftovers.

I’ve always tried to keep my go-tos to a minimum for fear of seeming a one-trick (or two-trick, or three-trick) pony.  In college, it was lime and garlic chicken fajitas — the simple, cheap meal that, in California at least, everybody eats.  These days, I have two go-to meals.  One for special occasions (maybe I’ll share it some time), and one for friend or work barbecues.

Outrageous oatmeal cookies are what I make when I’m going to a barbecue.  They’re perfect on so many levels.  First, they’re delicious.  Second, they’re unassuming.  Their appearance, and their very nature as a dessert, means that they won’t be upstaging the host’s dishes.  (At least, until they’re the first dish gone.  But then they’re gone.  At that point, you can’t be blamed for a nonexistent dish.)  And finally, they’re not a guilty cookie. Whole wheat flour, no butter (!)… sure, cookies are never foods on which you should subsist.  But if they’re delicious first, and not terribly bad for you second, it’s a bonus.  (Depending on your crowd, you lead with delicious or lead with “no butter, but delicious!”)

OUTRAGEOUS OATMEAL COOKIES, adapted slightly from my mother’s recipe drawer

1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
2 eggs
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups packed brown sugar (light or dark)
6 cups old-fashioned oats (or part granola)
2 cups broken walnuts
6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate morsels
1/2 cup warm water

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit with the rack in the center position or with both racks evenly distributed around the center of the oven.

Combine oil and egg, whisking briefly to combine.  Mix flour, baking powder, and salt in a very large mixing bowl, and stir until blended.

Add brown sugar, oats, walnuts, and chocolate, then stir to combine.  Add oil and egg mixture and work through the dough with a wooden spoon (or your fingers) until moistened throughout.  Add just enough warm water to make the mixture damp enough to hold together.

Generously grease two heavy baking sheets.  Using a 1/4 or 1/3 measuring cup (depending on desired size of cookies) to form the mixture into mounts and place on baking sheet with 1-3 inches between them.

Bake for 10-15 minutes until the cookie feels done when pressed with a finger.  Cool briefly, then use a spatula to remove from baking sheet.  Cool completely.


The “very large mixing bowl” is no joke.  I don’t have a bowl big enough.  I use my fingers to mix the ingredients because using a spoon knocks too many of the ingredients out of the bowl and, invariably, onto the floor.  And, let’s face it, I use my fingers to mix because it’s also fun.