Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Back to School: Ranger Cookies My Way

It isn’t even September yet and my two little darlings are already back in school. This really makes me sad, but since we go through this every fall I do my best to heal my broken heart with a series of girly luncheons and bottles of wine. It eventually works but it takes me awhile to get back in the swing of things.

Before I can even start to wrap my head around our new routine, the school e-mails begin. For those of you who have children in school, you know the kind of e-mails I’m talking about; the begging for volunteers e-mails, the e-mails about the $50 you owe for your son’s parking permit and then there’s the dreaded Back to School Night e-mail.

Our school’s Back to School Night consists of parents following the same daily school schedule as our children. We spend ten minutes with each teacher so they can tell us their philosophy and expectations of our little darlings and we are to then move on to the next class without cornering their teacher about the best way to get our child into Harvard.

Inevitably there is some rude parent who feels like this is the only chance they will ever have to let everyone know how intelligent their child is, and somehow they manage to bombard the entire ten minute time period. This really annoys everyone so I decided to do something about it this year and told my husband that he really needs to stop.

By the time your child gets to high school interesting changes begin to happen with their teachers. With a few exceptions, long gone are the perky young elementary school teachers who look like Talbot's models with a sparkle in their eyes and an optimistic tale of how much will be accomplished over the next nine months.

While high school teachers are a hearty breed, many of them often have an unkempt look, with a worried smile and a slight tremor in their hands. A school teacher friend of mine once told me that this is caused by years of wondering if anyone in his class peed in his coffee while he was out of the room. I understand that.

Last year my son’s favorite teacher was my favorite too. The gruff looking Mr. L taught Aquatic Biology and was very upfront with us at Back to School Night with the fact that if our student needed a little extra credit all we had to do was send in snacks. He didn’t want wordy research papers, dioramas or cold hard cash, he just wanted cookies. Oh man, he is my kind of guy.

Over the course of the semester last year, my son was in need of a couple of rounds of extra credit. I didn’t fool around with your run of the mill chocolate chip cookies, I hit Mr. L with the big guns right off the bat, my version of Ranger Cookies or as some also call them, Cowboy Cookies because of their lack of corn flakes.

Even though I don’t like baking cookies much, these are worth the trouble. They are big, chewy, a little bit thin and contain a little bit of something for everyone. Besides, you never know when you might need a little extra credit with someone yourself. I know it worked for me; "we" got a B in Aquatic Biology.

Ranger Cookies My Way

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (you can substitute the nuts for 1 heaping cup of cornflakes or rice crispies if you are allergic to nuts or just don't like them)
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups quick cooking oatmeal
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugars. Add the coconut, nuts, chocolate chips, vanilla and eggs and mix well; set aside.

In a medium size bowl, stir together the flour, oatmeal, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Slowly add the flour mixture to the wet mixture in the bowl, mixing well after each addition until it is completely incorporated.

Drop dough by the heaping tablespoons onto a non-stick cookie sheet; bake for 10 – 12 minutes or until cookies are a golden brown around the edges. Remove cookie sheet from the oven and allow cookies to cool for just a couple of minutes before carefully transferring them to a cool surface to cool completely.

Makes approximately 30 large cookies.

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