Never bake cookies are not to be confused with the familiar no bake cookies. Never bake cookies are literally cookies you should never bake. Ever.
Most likely you have been a victim of the sly baker who adds twisted ingredients like flax seeds, chia seeds, or oat bran to cookie dough in an attempt to save your life. These are the cookies I’m talking about. We don’t want our lives saved through a cookie. All you do is make us angry.
I know. I was a child of anger. Angry at the cookies my mom would bake. Maybe I would have been ok with seedy grain cookies if I’d grown up with them. But my life started out with wonderful cookies until I the day I was in fourth grade when my mom went down the wrong section of the library.
This dreadful aisle was the food conspiracy section. Shelves were filled with books about how our food was killing us and the grocery stores were at fault along with the entire food industry. She devoured these books. And once my mom got her head filled with this new information she gave our pantry an enema.
Canned stuff was out the door, white flour forever banished, and sacks of white and brown sugar needlessly thrown in the trash.
Before the pantry enema our home smelled like a vanilla Yankee Candle, because homemade cookies were waiting for us when we got home from school. And it wasn’t just our house that had the buttery vanilla smell – everyone in our huge wonderful Italian family had that same house smell. But my grandma, she had the best smelling house because was the most amazing cook ever!
On Tuesdays grandma would have me over for dinner. No adults. Just me. Or just me and Tina, my sister.
Dinner always ended with a cookie platter. Not with cheap ass Little Debbies or Walmart cookies in a plastic box. But real cookies like Neapolitans with pink, white, and brown sections where each color had it’s own flavor. Or maybe soft and buttery old school oatmeal raisin cookies with raisins that were soaked in rum. Or maybe a chocolate buttermilk cake that was cut in little squares so we could have them as brownies. And grandma didn’t just pick one cookie to serve, she put ALL THREE on the cookie platter.
She’d set the platter down and say, “Everyone needs a little bit of sugar.”
My mom’s baking was on par with my grandma UNTIL that day she read those library books. And that’s EXACTLY when my mom’s amazing cookies took a nosedive to hell.
In the conspiracy food section there were also conspiracy recipe books. And that’s where my mom found recipes for many never bake cookies. She had her favorite. They were called Hermits.
Because she threw out the white and brown sugar, we were supposed to embrace honey. And since store bought white flour was forever banished, we were supposed to be thrilled that she bought a wheat grinder to make our own flour.
Hermits were made with our homemade chunky flour and a bunch of other ingredients that we drove an hour to find in a specialty health food store. Stuff like; local honey, organic oat bran, sticks, raisins, grass, and carob. They were awful. I haven’t one positive word to say about them.
The dough was so thick my mom would have a bead of sweat on her upper lip while combining the ingredients. We knew she was making cookies so we’d wander in the kitchen hoping they would be real cookies. And the moment we saw the bead of sweat we knew she was stirring Hermit dough.
She’d try to chipper us up with, “These are so good for you.”
First, never say this. Ever. We don’t care if a cookie is good for us. We’re nine. And frankly at age fifty-five I don’t care either.
Still smiling and grinding through the dough she’d continue the pitch, “These have oats, honey, carob…” and I’d lose it on carob. I’d shriek, “I HATE CAROB!”
She’d chuckle shrug her shoulders and say, “Well it’s better for you, and it tastes just like chocolate.”
I’d yell back,“NO IT DOESN’T! IT TASTE LIKE CANDLE WAX!”
The carob manufacturers know this. They can’t even bring carob home to their kids or they will be shamed on Facebook. So they hire marketing mavericks to come up with campaigns that breed fear and guilt.
First they prey upon your fear. The fear that if you feed your child real chocolate their eyebrows might fall out.
After the fear they prey on your guilt. No one wants their kid’s eyebrows to fall out. There would be endless teasing at school and you’d be the one at fault because you never wanted to switch from chocolate to carob. Guilt. Guilt. Guilt.
I tried everything to get her to understand that no one wanted those cookies. She’d smile. I’d try again. And my last attempt I’d yell, “I HATE HERMITS THEY ARE DRY AND GROSS. AND THEY ARE SO EMBARRASSING TO BRING TO SCHOOL!”
She laughed, “Embarrassing? How are cookies embarrassing?”
“BECAUSE NO ONE EATS THEM! AND THEY STINK!” And then I’d stomp off to my room and cry into my pillow and wish grandma would come rescue me.
This anger is not healthy. I can tell you from personal experience. It’s wasted anger. Wouldn’t you rather your child have healthy anger? I mean, cookies are silly things to get angry over. But they can’t help the anger when you make vegan gluten free horse shit cookies.
Healthy anger builds character and molds your child into a content adult human. And you probably have these life lessons happening without adding never bake cookies into their food regimen.
For instance, that coloring book you bought your kid. Remember the one at The Dollar Store? That one they kept asking for, but you thought they’d never color in it? But when you finally broke down and shelled out a $1.29 they ranked you up there with Santa.
Your munchkin was thrilled! Why just on the way home from The Dollar Store you got three, “I love you’s”, and an extra six hugs in the driveway before your baby even broke a crayon.
Your angel colored in that book like it was going to disappear at midnight. Love. Love. Love. The world is just perfect. Color crayons, coloring book, smiles and kisses.
But the next morning your little one takes the coloring book in the bathroom, lays it on the counter so it won’t drop in the commode. And what happens next? Your baby forgets and leaves the coloring book behind because you are having your mom friend over and she’s bringing her kids. Your munchkin hears everyone walking in the door and flies outta the bathroom leaving that precious coloring book on the counter.
Your mom friend is an earth queen. She is green. She composts, milks her cow, and does naked yoga in her backyard. The kids play while you ladies have tea. Probably organic tea from a fair trade country.
The kids are running in and out – doors slamming, lots of laughing, toys squeaking – it’s an afternoon of fun chaos! And it’s during this time, someone, doesn’t matter who, knocks your muffin’s precious coloring book OFF the counter and ONTO the bathroom floor.
Your earth queen friend has a motto, “If it’s yellow let it mellow. If it’s brown flush it down.” Which basically means your friend and her kids don’t flush the toilet when they pee. You don’t care because the moment your friend backs out of the driveway you go to all your toilets and give them a cleansing flush.
But since earth people drink more water than the rest of us (because they are constantly purging themselves from toxins) there will be an usually high pile of yellow pee toilet paper that you must get to right away, well once they leave, because you don’t want to offend you friend.
This day is different though. Your friend backed out of the driveway but your brain was so caught up in the conversation about vegan-gluten-free-taste-free-cookies you must get some pins on your Never Bake Cookie Pinterest board. And it has to be NOW! Why? The conversation bred fear and guilt. You don’t want your kid to lose an eyebrow, so you must start pinning now. Pin Pin Pin! Your horrible Pinterest cookie board must be filled. Hurry, something might happen to little baby, you gotta pin immediately. Guilt. Fear. And pinning.
You are consumed.
“Hey honey,” you yell to your little one as they run upstairs and lock the bathroom door to rest their derriere on the toilet seat.
You continue pinning to your Never Bake Cookie board (that no one wants to follow) and you hear your little one singing from the commode. This makes you happy because you know it’s a good potty time. And your earth friend told you there were even MORE potty benefits with never bake cookies. Your are determined to have your little one take first place for the cleanest colon in your county. But you gotta get that Pinterest board organized!
You hear the commode flush. You hear the water turn on. And you have a proud moment. Your kid is becoming self-sufficient. But your moment is interrupted with a wail from the upstairs bathroom.
You wait. See if it’s really a big deal.
And then the real long one, “MOOOOOOOOM!”
You rush upstairs towards the bathroom and you hear a trickling waterfall before you get up the third stair. You logically think through what makes a waterfall sound in the bathroom. And then you realize, Oh crap! I didn’t flush all the toilets! There is probably a big yellow pee mound that is scaring Precious.
“I’m coming,” you yell.
You throw open the door and there’s your kid. Petrified. Can’t move. Your baby is standing by the sink, britches around the ankles watching wide eyed as the toilet begins to overflow and creep closer and closer and closer….
Here come the tears, “MOM!”
You say, “Now honey, it’s ok,” because after all it’s just an overflowing toilet. No big deal.
Except well, now there’s some solid matter overflowing up over the toilet lid, down the side, and PLOP right onto the floor ……next to that coloring book!
“MOM!” More tears. “MY COLORING BOOK!”
“Oh honey, it’s ok,” because after all the solid matter didn’t touch the coloring book, it’s just floating close by.
“MAKE IT STOP! STOP! STOP IT! MOOOOOM!” More tears.
And in a snap those tears turn into anger. “SOMEONE PUT MY COLORING BOOK ON THE FLOOR!”
You try to console with reasoning, “Maybe you left it on the floor.”
Your little one yells, “NO! I DIDN’T SOMEBODY DID!” Sobs. Hiccups. Finger pointing and blame.
But here is an example of healthy anger. You calmly ask, “Did you look in the toilet before you sat down?” Because that might be a life lesson. Never poop without looking first.
You could also point out, “Maybe next time you will be careful with your things,” because this statement really makes kids mad and teaches a life lesson at the same time.
Two life lessons in one. Look before you poop. Take care of your things.
By baking Hermits and pinning never bake cookies on your Pinterest board you are promoting unhealthy anger every time you concoct one of these disasters. Your babycake already has life lessons with healthy anger. Why add UNhealthy anger to the mix? This is exactly why they love grandma more. She doesn’t try and preach through a cookie.
Grandma isn’t worried about sugar, butter and Nestle’s chocolate chips. She doesn’t even care if ALL her grand kids lose their eyebrows. Why? Because that’s what grandmas do. They love you no matter what and they bake awesome cookies.
NOTE : Shameless plug. I have an entire website dedicated to Italian dessert recipes. There’s a section with 40+ Italian Cookie Recipes, many of the recipes were from my grandma. Check it out. ~ Lisa