Remember the scene from Ratatouille where the critic has an out-of-body experience when he eats a favorite childhood dish of ratatouille? He is transformed to a scene from childhood where the food his mother made gives him comfort and salve from a sore knee. Somehow, eating that once again gave him a taste of that same peace and comfort, and the effect is both shocking and touching.
That's what happens to me when I eat these cookies.
I remember walking home from school (my mother hardly ever picked us up; walking is good for you!) and entering the back door to the smell of these cookies. She'd stir up the batter in her big yellow tupperware bowl and the countertop would be covered with dozens and dozens of cookies. They were always made in big batches, as in, at least 100. Anything less would hardly be worth it when you have seven kids. These cookies kept well, but she'd always bag most of them up and put them in the basement freezer to be taken out for sack lunches or hungry teenagers who were too lazy to go upstairs for a snack. I remember studying at my desk and chewing my way through a sack of these sweet, spicy cookies.
We didn't buy many store-bought cookies in those days. Animal crackers occasionally crept in, Mother's Molasses cookies made it if they were on sale, and there would be hell to pay if you dared to take a Mystic Mint from the secret cupboard. But my mother made these cookies by the hundreds.
These cookies are not going to win any beauty contests. Don't you dare use an ice cream scoop to fill your cookie sheets -- a hefty tablespoon will do just fine. If you have an old tupperware bowl, get that out too. Don't overbake them (they should look a little wet on the top when taking them out of the oven). Store between paper towels in your favorite cookie tin. They taste better (and moister) the next day. And when you eat them, think of your mother, and how she looked when you walked in the door, like sweet, soft angel.
Banana Oatmeal Cookies with Chocolate Chips
1. c shortening
1/2 c. unsalted butter (if it's 1975, us all shortening)
3 c. sugar
1 t. vanilla
3 c. mashed bananas
1 t. salt
1 t. baking soda
1 1/2 T. cinnamon
1/2 t. nutmeg
1/2 t. cloves
1 t. allspice
3 c. flour
2 c. oats (if using old fashioned oats, blend half of half of them in your food processor. Or not.)
1 c. nuts
2 c. chocolate chips (or 1 1/2 c. chopped raisins)
Cream shortening/butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and mashed bananas. Sift together dry ingredients and stir into banana mixture. The dough is going to look a little loose, more like a batter. You can add more flour if you want but I prefer to refrigerate the dough for at least 2 hour or overnight.
Scoop onto parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake at 350 for about 13 minutes. Let finish baking on trays. Don't overbake.