I have held on to a fairly steadfast rule in my six years as a parent: we don’t travel for winter holidays. The rule came about in part because I was terrified about flying with one, two, and then three small children, and in part, because I wanted to establish our own holiday traditions as a new family. I made a somewhat last minute decision to throw my rule out the window this year, my dear grandmother is in hospice and seeing her seemed like an excellent reason to throw travel worries away and take on the challenge.
Needless to say, the week has been a whirlwind of pasta, fast food, and cold sandwiches – it’s not much of a meal plan. It did get me thinking, however, about comfort food. I’m not talking about the mindless stress eating we sometimes fall into or the occasional overindulgence, but about the foods we eat to soothe our souls: homemade chicken soup, freshly baked bread with jam, an apple right off the tree, a bowl of hearty stew.
Most of my farmer’s market purchases last week went into the freezer and pantry, but I bought some fresh bread and incredible jam, and as I worked through the stress over travel and worried about my family I kept returning to a piece of toasted bread with jam (at least until my husband polished off the loaf). It was just what I needed to get through the planning and packing.
As for the travel, we survived our flight, and Newark airport, and the Garden State Parkway. I got to hold my grandma’s hand and talk and laugh with her for a while. Now we’ll bake cookies with my mom, and I’ll show my kids how we celebrate Christmas in my childhood home.
I’ll leave you with the recipe for my favorite cookie of all time, perfect for sharing with friends and family during the holiday season. Comfort and joy to you all, Beacon readers.
Great Pumpkin Cookies
2 cups Flour
1 cup Oatmeal
4 Tbsp Wheat Germ (optional)
1 cup Shredded Coconut
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Baking Soda
1 cup Butter
1 cup Brown Sugar
1 cup White Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla
1 1/2 - 2 cups Pumpkin (I find a 16 ounce can of pumpkin is perfect)
1 cup Chocolate Chips (or Raisins if you're feeling healthy)
1 cup Chopped Nuts (if desired)
Preheat oven to 350. Mix dry ingredients and set them aside. In a large bowl mix butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla. Add dry ingredients and pumpkin, mix well. Add chocolate chips and combine. Bake 15-20 minutes (for a small cookie scoop. I use a medium scoop which usually takes 22-25 minutes). They should be just browned on the edges and cakey in the middle.
It's a very forgiving recipe. My mom often cuts the sugar by 3/4 or 1/2; I also substitute wheat flour occasionally.