Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

I started making oatmeal cookies a few years ago at my mother's request. The dough for these cookies can get rather difficult to stir and if you've got any arthritis in your hands or elbows, it can be downright impossible.

I tried several recipes I found in various cookbooks--some had more flour than others, some used quick oats instead of old-fashioned and so on--but the recipe I like the best came from the inside of the lid of the Quaker Oats oatmeal. Here's the recipe with a few tips and slight modifications.

1 cup/2 sticks margarine or butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed (I used dark brown sugar)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I usually use all-purpose whole wheat flour)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon (or a little more if you really like it)
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional, but I use it)
3 cups uncooked oatmeal (you can use quick oats or old-fashioned oats)
1 cup raisins

Additional options:
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1 teaspoon ground ginger

Pre-heat oven to 350F degrees. Beat together margarine/butter with the sugars until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla and beat well. Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon and (optional) salt and ginger in a bowl and then add to the mixture and mix well. Stir in oats (about a cup at a time) and raisins and (optional) nuts. Drop by small spoonfuls (about an inch in diameter) on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for a minute and remove to a wire rack. Yield: about four or five dozen (depending on cookie size).

If you're confused about what oats to buy, here's a cheat sheet on the various types of oats. I use the old-fashioned oats for nice, chewy cookies, but it does help to refrigerate the dough for about 20-30 minutes before baking as well as between batches so they don't spread too much. Also, the original recipe calls for the cookies to be baked 10-12 minutes, but I bake mine for about 15 minutes. Note that they'll continue to brown after being removed from the oven, so be sure not to overcook lest you get oatmeal discs instead of oatmeal cookies. I also like to add in some chocolate chips to a portion of the batter as well. It's a nice way to make an otherwise nutritious cookie somewhat bad for you.

Last year, I decided to mix this recipe up a little bit and made oatmeal-cherry-chocolate cookies with some dried cherries. Don't bother. The taste of the cherries couldn't hold up to the rest of the cookie and though fairly good, the cookies weren't quite cherrilicious enough. Stick with the raisins. They're good for you.

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