April 30, 2012

National Oatmeal Cookie Day

“What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up Like a raisin in the sun? . . . Or does it explode?” - Langston Hughes

It's National Oatmeal Cookie Day!

"I love baking. One semester in college, I had all upper level psychology courses (again, let me remind you not to become a psychology major, unless “cynical” and “judgmental” are personality traits you’d like to have), and to help with the stress, every day after classes I would bake.

I was really good at baking. Cakes, pies, cheesecake, cookies, pastries – whatever you wanted, whatever you could think of, I could make. But for some strange reason, I could never master the art of oatmeal raisin cookies.

Every time I tried, I failed.

I tried, literally, hundreds of different recipes, and I just couldn’t figure it out. They either burned, or didn’t cook all the way through. They were either hard has hockey pucks, or crumbling oat by oat in my hand. People would give me advice, I would take it, and something would still go wrong.

Clearly, I wasn’t mean to make oatmeal raisin cookies.

I can take a hint.

My favorite grocery store in my home town makes great oatmeal raisin cookies. I’m the only person in my world I know that eats them, so every once in a great while, I would buy a dozen, and, with a giant iced coffee, go to town.

Now, summers ago, one of the ice cream stands in my hometown had an experimental ice cream treat every week. One week, they experimented with bubblegum flavored everything – ice cream, whipped cream, sprinkles, you name it. I’m not so sure that was their biggest hit.

One week, though, their sign read “Oatmeal Raisin Cyclones.”

I remember it was a Wednesday, but details beyond that are lost to me. I screeched into their parking lot, jumped out and ran to the counter. The high school student serving me looked scared for her life.

“Are you really making oatmeal and raisin cyclones?”

The girl nodded quickly, her eyes widening in panic.

My chest started to constrict, my heart was racing that fast. “Is it like broken up cookie pieces in ice cream?”

The girl shook her head as much as her nervous body would let her.

I began to feel weak in the knees. “Is it actual cooled oatmeal and actual raisins swirled in the ice cream?”

The girl nodded this time, sweat forming at her temples.

“Oooh!” I gasped, my heart getting ready to explode from my ribcage. I could barely choke out the words “Can I get one made with chocolate ice cream?”

The girl tripped over herself to get away from me to the back of the stand to start making it for me.

Three dollars later, five minutes, and ten years off my life later, and I was sitting in my car looking down at what could possibly be the best ice cream in the world. My favorite cookie – oatmeal raisin, with my favorite ice cream – chocolate soft serve, together?! Why had I never thought of such brilliance before?!

It was, and remains to this day, the best ice cream I had ever eaten in my entire life.

The chocolate soft serve was as smooth and chocolaty as ever. The raisins were soft and plump and sweet. The oatmeal was creamy and spiced just right.

It was perfect.

Until the end of it.

When my euphoria had calmed down, I remembered that nothing in life is perfect.

Not even ice cream.

I was nearing the end of my ice cream bliss, when I hit a raisin that had obviously sat in the ice cream concoction a tad too long, because it was frozen solid. I went to chew, and nearly cracked my tooth on that little devil fruit.

Did that stop me from eating the rest of it? No. I was just a little more cautious about rushing into every bite. The blend of flavors was so incredible, that I could overlook some raisinsicles – they would, given time, eventually soften into something manageable anyway.

So I went back Thursday for one.

I went back on Friday for another.

And, I knew at the end of each ice cream there would be hidden in the chocolate, little rock solid raisins ready to crack my teeth and give me a pounding headache.

But I was in love, and could look past a few flaws like frozen raisins.

But, my timing was off. I discovered the ice cream too late. And, as it is with a lot of things in life, I didn’t appreciate it or love it nearly enough given the short time I had with it. That Saturday when I went back for it, the nervous high schooler said, “I’m sorry, ma’am, but we’ve started our new flavor.”

Time slowed to a stop, and it physically felt like my heart was being cut open. “Excusemewhat?” I blurted, my blood pounding so viciously in my head, that it sounded as if I was under water.

“On Saturdays we start our new flavor.”

I spun around and looked at their sign in front. “New Flavor: Banana Caramel Chunk.” I turned back on the girl and exploded. “WHO DOES THAT? WHO STARTS ANYTHING ON A SATURDAY?! IT’S NOT THE END OR THE BEGINNING OF THE WEEK!”

The girl looked like she was about to start crying.

I was crying.

“I’m sorry?” She offered helplessly.

“You don’t get it,” I whispered, head hung low. “You just don’t get it.”

As far as heartbreaks go, that was, at the time, by far, my biggest.

That ice cream parlor has never made that ice cream again.

I’m sure I could find a recipe online to make my own. But knowing my baking history with oatmeal raisin, I would be unsuccessful. Even if it wasn’t a total disaster, I’m not sure I want to attempt it.

Because if I can’t have the same thing that I had, then I don’t want it all."

Happy National Oatmeal Cookie Day!