My mom used to say, “There’s not much a cookie can’t cure.”
I know that’s perhaps a tad optimistic, but I always loved the philosophy. I know cookies don’t cure anything, but my ongoing road trip has confirmed my belief they do help create and reinforce connections.
I’ll give you an example using Oreo cookies. I have yet to meet anyone who doesn’t like them. (But I know you’re out there, and I don’t want you to feel excluded so please read on.) Oreos can make people smile. And, in the U.S., they have so many types.
I am a traditional kind of gal. No Double Stuff for me, thanks. Chocolate filling is OK, but why mess with success? Or so I thought until we got to Iowa and I found Toffee Crunch Oreos.
Fair warning, this variation turns a vintage favourite into a new thing altogether. But change is good, and innovation, especially the tasty kind, deserves appreciation.
I could do without Pumpkin Spice Oreos, but if these show up in Canada, I’d say go ahead and try them. They gave me the same kind of ear-to-ear smile as the originals, and they are downright yummy.
There are plenty of independent places where amazing home-baked goods are produced and we have supported many in our travels. I have made it a mission to avoid corporate coffee places and frequent the local haunts. But there is one American chain of grocery stores that has a sort of cult status, so we needed to include it on our shopping list. It’s Trader Joe’s.
If you’ve never been to a Trader Joe’s, it’s hard to explain just how much fun it can be. They have treats of every sort—flavoured fruit jellies, chocolate covered nuts and dried fruit, packaged sweet and savoury sauces and condiments. It’s a gourmand’s paradise. But the cookie aisle is almost daunting.
I am a fan of Joe-Joe’s, their sandwich cookies. Chocolate cookies with a peanut butter filling are a good combination, but at Christmas, they do a deluxe chocolate covered sandwich with peppermint filling and candy cane pieces on the outside. There are also “Dunkers” (crispy oatmeal cookies), Triple Ginger Snaps, soft-baked Snickerdoodles. You get the idea.
For a store-bought cookie, Trader Joe’s has got all the bases covered. The catch is, you have to make your own connection with other fellow cookie lovers.
I don’t want to finish this column without giving you an example of a homemade cookie you can try yourself as that would be mean. So, I’m going to share a recipe ta friend shared with me, one she has always made for her family, just as her mom did when she was little.
Have you heard of “Monster cookies?” I hadn’t. We were comparing childhood memories of favourite treats, and apparently this is a popular Midwest cookie. It is a hearty, flavourful recipe, good enough for a midday snack but with just enough decadence to offset the oats.
The recipe she shared was for huge proportions, meant to last a large family a little while. (It started with three pounds of peanut butter). She mentioned mixing it in her turkey roasting pan. I was doubtful about making a huge batch, but once I tasted them, I realized the sense in it. That same old smile crept across my lips and spread from ears to ear, and I could feel the love that came from making them.
Sustenance is defined as food and drink regarded as a source of strength and nourishment. I take the Winnie the Pooh’s interpretation of this concept—sustenance is about feeling connected to our food and the enjoyment of it. Our favourite foods call to us, just like Pooh’s pots of honey. (Pooh has also shown us that foods like honey—and cookies—can cause us to see heffalumps at night if we have too many. )
Everyone has a favourite cookie that sustains them. Maybe it’s homemade, or maybe it’s store bought. Either way, they have a special place in our hearts. They connect us to that warm, fuzzy feeling we get from pleasant experiences. When we get to share them with others, it amplifies the feeling.
I hope you get to share a favourite cookie with someone special soon.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.