08 November 2008

Soul Stirring Oatmeal Cookies


Lately I have been feeling scattered. I keep digging through my life, my story, and trying to work the pieces into the jigsaw puzzle of who I am. Sometimes the pieces don’t seem to fit and I get frustrated with the ones I can’t force into a sense of order, the things that don't seem to fit into a tidy narrative.

Movie Break

To take a break from myself and my own little problems I decided to watch a movie. I put “Stranger Than Fiction” in the DVD player, popped a bag of microwave popcorn and settled in front of the screen. I hoped to loose myself in this comedy about an auditor for the IRS named Harold Crick who begins to hear a voice in his head. Soon he realizes that it is the voice of a writer who is narrating the tale of his life as she works out the plot for her latest novel. As the story unfolds Harold meets and interacts with some interesting people including a Professor of Literature, who helps Harold understand what is going on, the Author, who is searching for a way to kill Harold in her novel, and Ana, who runs a coffee shop, bakes amazing cookies and with whom Harold falls in love.

When I first heard about it I didn’t even think I would like this movie. I am not a huge Will Ferrell fan. I think he is often pointlessly silly. But this film seemed to ask great questions in approachable ways. How can we be real, authentic human beings and not just follow the path of least resistance, caving in to the expectations that have been written for us? Will Ferrell as Harold ends up doing a fabulous job of fleshing that out in a gentle, sweet, and believable way. His character manages to stretch himself in ways that are absolutely right and necessary for who Harold is. Harold has integrity and begins to make good choices that let him understand his life and begin to truly live it.

Fiction meets Real Life

As I got into the movie I realized this was no real escape. Instead I began to see that I had been drawn to a movie that encompassed the same issues I had been struggling with if not the whole story of my life.

I could identify with Harold because I was once an auditor too. I understand the comfort and predictability of numbers and the desire to live a safe and orderly life. I also understand the desire to break free of what is predictable and to take chances on life in focused and meaningful ways.

As an author I appreciate the novelist who is confident in her method and true to her subject. I aspire to be a writer who takes in every detail and understands the nuance of what she is writing about, even if it means sitting on a rock, smoking in the pouring rain (at least in fictional terms).

Maybe, as a mother, I can even picture myself as the assistance holding an umbrella while waiting in the rain trying to help someone who doesn’t want or maybe even need my help. And, as a food writer, I can certainly relate to the Professor who strongly believes in pancakes!

And then there is Ana, spunky and caring and fabulously real. I think I must have had the dream of being a baking diva at some point in my life. Maybe I still do. There is strong magic in kitchen chemistry. To be beautiful and to bake magical, soul stirring cookies is a mythic and wholesome pursuit that is almost edgy these days. And Ana is like Nigella and Martha rolled into one! Like Nigella, she has the intuitively passionate and earthy approach to the art of baking while, like Martha, she wields her skill and defiance in the face of all obstacles. She is even willing to go to jail for her conviction to not pay her taxes.

Living in the Real World

In the end I had to say that I really enjoyed watching “Stranger Than Fiction.” It was a happy surprise, a very fun movie! It had just the right amount of serious for my mood and was just deep enough to make me smile while kicking around in the water but not deep enough to risk drowning in!

And watching it does seem to have reset my mood. Instead of focusing on organizing my life and making it predictable I think I need to focus on living it. Instead of sorting, defining and archiving my past I think of how much more might be accomplished by pulling out an old and faithful recipe and baking a batch of soul stirring cookies to nurture family and friends.

Like the movie said, “ When we loose ourselves in fear and despair, in routine and constancy, in hopelessness and tragedy, we can thank God for Oatmeal Cookies!”

Well maybe it said Bavarian Sugar Cookies but these Oatmeal Cookies are something to be thankful for too! Tasty and packed with healthy ingredients, they are a nutritious treat that you can feel great about baking and sharing.


Soul Stirring Oatmeal Cookies
(Adapted from an old discolored newspaper clipping I collected in Dallas)

1 cup canola oil
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
¾ cup whole wheat flour
¼ cup soy flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teasopoon vanilla
1 ½ cups finely chopped pecans or walnuts
½ cup wheat germ
Special Ingredient ( Choose one of the following: 1 cup coconut, 1 cup mini chocolate chips or m&ms, ½ cup sunflower seeds or ½ cup sesame seeds)
3 ½ to 4 cups oats


Mix together oil and sugars until thoroughly combined.

Add eggs, flour, cinnamon, salt, soda and vanilla. Mix well.

Add nuts, wheat germ and add ins, along with enough oatmeal to make a stiff dough that is not too dry. Add the oatmeal gradually so the dough doesn’t get too stiff.

Drop the dough by teaspoonfuls onto cookie sheets lined with aluminum foil.
Note: The dough may be crumbly and fall apart easily. I gather the teaspoonful in place and press it down to make a slightly flattened circle on the baking sheet.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes at 350 F.

Remove from oven and cool on wire racks.

Share and Enjoy!

7 comments:

Ricki said...

What a great post! I saw that movie as well, also not a huge Ferrell fan going in, and ended up really liking it, too (though I can't for the life of me remember how it ended!!!). I could also identify with the Ana character--she was quite something! Glad this gave you a new perspective. And anything that prompts oatmeal cookies can't be bad. :)

Grace said...

a will ferrell movie worth watching? surely you jest! excellent, well-written post, and fabulous cookies. my soul has been stirred. :)

p.s. my security word is gratin. :)

Cathy said...

Good post. And your cookies look delicious. I'm going with the coconut in mine.

nicisme said...

I enjoyed reading this, and the cookies look fantastic!

Ivy said...

Wow! How inspirational and profound.It's so refreshing-thank you!
You made me smile, tear-up and feel hungry for oatmeal cookies all at the same time. Hahaha

Kim said...

This is by far my favorite story and post of yours. I too am not a Will Ferrell fan, but I am going to check this out of the library. Boy, can I relate to all that you have said. And oatmeal cookies, a favorite of mine, I'll take them over a chocolate chip anyday.

Robin Sue said...

You are right- I sometimes let life plan me instead of me planning my life! I will have to rent that movie. Thanks!