February 20th, 2020

From Our Table: Cookies, tears and back to school

By Joanne Smith on August 27, 2019.

Joanne Smith says Quick Oatmeal Cookies feature a little love-made taste of home in every bite.

Just a few short days until the September long weekend. And we all know what goes with the September long weekend – the start of another school year.

For some families it might just be the beginning of their first child entering school. The excitement and apprehension about what’s to come over the next 13 years in the education system. For other families it’s a total relief to get everyone back to school and into a much needed routine. For others it’s the heart-wrenching change of seeing all your hard work pay off and send a well equipped young adult off to college or university. In any case it’s a lot of change all at once.

When I registered our first son for kindergarten I jauntily popped into the school, sat down at the desk and suddenly stared at “the form.” The form that represented me giving a completely unknown school system, full of strangers access to my precious child for hours a week. This beautiful little boy who I had carefully nurtured and protected for five short years. Then I burst into tears, grabbed the registration form and mumbled something incoherent about bringing it back later. Don’t worry I’m completely aware that I’m a little odd – I prefer passionate.

Now 21 years later Josiah made it through those 13 years and a few more, received a finance degree and has an entrepreneurial spirit running his own landscaping/construction business. Oh, and he got married to the lovely Chelsea Maser in our backyard this summer in the most beautiful wedding!

Zachary also made it through school and is getting close to completing his CPA. He was so excited his first day of kindergarten and I could barely see through my tears to drive him to school. Three-year-old Levi in the back of the van called up to me, “Don’t worry mommy. I still here for you!”

Little Levi, my 6-foot-2 third son, is entering his second year of law school and his wife Tori will complete her pharmacy degree next spring. He is a homebody so when he started school and discovered it wasn’t just one year but 13 he looked at me and said, “Fine. I’ll go for kindergarten but then I’m taking a year off to study art.” Wow good thing he didn’t know then that it would actually be 20!

The biggest change this fall is my baby Benjamin is heading off to do his masters at the University of Waterloo. And now in true tradition of my annual back to school column I am crying. How does this happen so fast?

I’m so proud of my boys and love them so much. Every fall however I feel like just one more little piece of my heart breaks. I guess because it is a concrete reminder of change, of time going by and babies growing up really fast.

So since this is supposed to be a food column I better turn the focus to food. Maybe a comfort food that is also appropriate for back to school lunches. One that is healthy and yummy, freezes well and for my family is the essence of home made memories. It’s my moms oatmeal chocolate chip cookie recipe and yes I’ve shared it before. Please indulge me while I do it again. It’s a true taste of home.

My mom, with the help of my dad, just made some as the perfect gift for Zachary’s 25th birthday. And of course she’s sending some along with Benjamin. A little love-made taste of home in every bite.

Wishing all the teachers, students and staff a safe and super school year!

Joanne Smith is a registered dietitian.

Quick Oatmeal Cookies by my mom Ethel Barnstable

2 cups margarine

2 cups brown sugar

2 tsp baking soda

1/2 cup hot water

4 1/2 cups oatmeal

3 1/2 cups flour

2 tsp vanilla

2 tsp salt

1 tsp nutmeg

1-2 cups chocolate chips

1 cup pecan or walnut pieces (optional)

Cream margarine. Add sugar and cream well. Mix baking soda with hot water; add to first mixture. Add remaining ingredients, mixing well. Chill if possible. Form into small balls; place on parchment lined or greased cookie sheet and press down with a fork. Bake at 400 F for 10 minutes.

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