The Clara Project: Perfect oatmeal cookies.

Last week, I gave a talk about The Clara Project at Mt. Pleasant Retirement Village in Monroe, OH. The Clara Project’s matriarch, Clara (Claire) Shenefelt Williams, lived there until her passing just a few weeks ago. Last fall, I’d been invited to speak about the project and about my other food writing at Mt. Pleasant, as part of Miami University’s Institute for Learning in Retirement.

It was a neat experience, and I think things went over pretty well. Of course, I had to take cookies—preferably made from one of Clara’s 1930s recipes. I broke out this fantastic recipe for soft oatmeal-raisin cookies, which I first published here last August. I’d forgotten just how good these are: cake-like, not too sweet, with chopped raisins for a nice texture. It’s pretty much the perfect oatmeal cookie recipe.

old-fashioned oatmeal raisin cookie recipe

(makes about 46)

1/2 cup buttermilk (or 1/2 cup milk mixed with 1 tsp. lemon juice and set aside for 5 minutes)
1 cup unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
3 cups rolled (quick or old-fashioned) oats
1 cup raisins, finely chopped
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In the bowl of a stand mixer or large mixing bowl using a hand mixer, whip the butter until it's light and fluffy, a minute or two. Add the sugar and cream together with the butter. Add the eggs, mixing after each one. Mix in the oats and chopped raisins, then the buttermilk (or sour milk). In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and ginger; add to the butter mixture and stir slowly to combine. Drop the dough in generous teaspoonfuls onto a baking sheet. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until cookies are set and light brown around the edges.

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