The day started well enough; I woke to brilliant sunlight against the flaming leaves on the maple outside our window. A late season chance to do laundry and get it dry on the line! Even before coffee, I zipped down to the basement to get the first load into the machine. It is probably the last weekend of color, with wintery weather in the forecast. As if to prove me right, the helicopters were out early, sweeping the tourists over the valley for a vast bird’s eye view of the best color season in years.

By the time the first load of laundry finished, it had clouded over, and the temperatures dropped. Rick looked dubious as I wondered aloud about getting these things dry on the line. As if to punctuate his remarks, it started to rain. I sighed, and resigned myself to the dryer. In this one day, we’ve had sunshine, drizzle, hard rain, blustery winds, some more sunshine and cold and dropping temperatures.

Beyond laundry, all my big plans for the day were outdoor work. What else was there to do, but bake?

I gave Rick some options, and he picked “those cookies.”

I think he’s hesitant about the name I’ve given them, “Rick’s Everything Cookies.”

I stopped making cookies, years ago, when I learned I couldn’t have gluten. I’d tried a few things, but gluten-free flours have evolved a lot since then, and my early efforts were leaden, crisp to the point of dental concern, and flat. Try as I might, I couldn’t achieve a decent chewy cookie. I gave up.

Fast forward a decade or so to the era of experimentation. Information on the science of gluten-free alternatives is light years from where I first started. And, perhaps the biggest incentive was that I had a partner who wanted baked goodies that we could share. I’d offered to make him regular-people desserts, but he wanted something for the two of us.

The evolution of these cookies was a bit like today’s weather–a sampler of possibilities. We started with oatmeal-raisin. They were okay–but perhaps a little on the high-fiber, healthy side. Rick was looking for decadent. Then the search was on for a gluten-free chocolate chip cookie–soft and chewy. I searched and found a recipe which came close. Then Rick wanted nuts…then raisins, too… and then some oatmeal for good measure. We tinkered and toyed with it until I met all those needs, in one cookie. The result is an odd hybrid cookie–but maybe one of the best treats I’ve ever made. Here it is:

Rick’s Everything Cookies

Add the ingredients in the order in which they are listed. The usual “wet” and “dry” ingredients are mixed in order, to saturate certain dry ingredients, so they will add texture without interfering with chewiness. We make them by hand. If you decide to use a mixer, don’t ‘over fluff’ the sugar/butter stage. Otherwise, it’s a pretty straightforward recipe.

3/4 cup butter (softened)

1 cup brown sugar (compacted)

1/2 cup white sugar

1 1/2 cup chopped pecans (though walnuts might do)

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

Beat or stir vigorously until combined smoothly.

1/2 cup rolled oats

1 cup chocolate chips

1 cup raisins

1/2 teaspoon xanthum gum

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 and 1/2 cup gluten-free flour

Chill for at least one hour.

Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes. DO NOT OVERBAKE! The objective is to have a blush of golden and golden edges–but no more, or you risk losing your chewy texture. To keep them uniform, I use a 2 tablespoon coffee measure to form the cookies. Let them cool on the cookie sheet for 6 minutes before transferring to a wire rack–or plate. Gluten free flour has no protein–so you’re using the binding power of the eggs to hold them together. If you try to move them too soon, they’ll fall apart. They’re best in the first three days–so good, in fact, that they rarely last much longer. You could freeze them.

I like Namaste GF flour. It’s a good “cup for cup” alternative to wheat flour. My close second choice would be Bob’s Red Mill. I haven’t tried it, but I imagine those of you who are ‘wheaties’ could make this with regular all-purpose baking flour. (If you use wheat flour, you may have to adjust the baking soda/powder levels, as GF flours have a little leavening in them already.)

So, that’s what’s up on a blustery day. Laundry, a loaf of bread and cookies.