Funny how certain things just take you right back, wherever that destination actually is.
I can't recall a certain memory of eating these cookies, but everything about them sent me to the guilty pleasure I can always remember when eating them. I'm telling you, these cookies are not great for you. But they are so unbelievably delicious.
My mom has perfected these over the years, beginning in her youth as she grew up in the No-Bake Wonderland that is western Pennsylvania. She and Trisha, the best friend with whom I am so acquainted due to stories of childhood, would whip these up and then eat pizza (since there was no such delicacy in the Duryea household) and have themselves the best of times. Sometimes I'll ask my mom about these stories. Sometimes they just come up. Or sometimes we visit family and she points out all the places of her childhood. Whatever the situation, her eyes unfailingly brighten when she recounts her memories. She grins in genuine nostalgia, and it's as if she's reliving it all right then and there. The pizza. The laughter. The snow-dampened socks. And the bonus spoonfuls of sugar tossed into the cookies because they were ten years old and nothing else mattered but the extra grit it gave.
There's a certain joy that peeps through my sweet mother's face at times like this. It's a joy that can't be fabricated or mustered. And that's what makes it- her- so beautiful. I think it's because of her love for life, memory, and tradition that I love these cookies so much. When you relish something so wonderfully, it's all you can do to bequeath the goodness to someone else and just hope that they'll love it, in their own way, as much as you do. And I do believe that my mom has succeeded at this concept...
All of our lives, she has joyfully crafted these cookies for my sister and I, mostly at sporadic times if I'm correct. When she does, she knows they're going to be good. She knows we're going to love them. And I'd guess she knows we probably won't be able to quit eating them. But I'm not sure if she knows that she's actively taking part in a lineage of stories. That one day I'll tell tales of life and cookies with the same delight in my eyes as I make these delicious little mongrels for someone else who is unknowingly in need of a story. Yes, that's all partly because of these chocolate and peanut butter confections. But more because of the grandeur with which my Suz loves, rooted in something deeper and grander still.
But until that day comes, we'll just continue to eat cookies.
So straight from my Pennsylvanian roots, here's what I say to you: "Yinz ever had a no-bake?"
Trisha and Suzi's No-Bake Cookies
- 2 c. sugar
- 1/4 c. cocoa
- 1/2 c. milk
- 1/4 lb. (one stick) butter
- 1/2 c. peanut butter (crunchy or bust)
- 3 c. old-fashioned oats
- 1 tsp vanilla
Bring first four ingredients to a boil. Remove from heat and add peanut butter, oats, and vanilla. Mix well. Drop by teaspoon (except definitely go bigger) onto wax paper and let sit at room temperature for an hour until set.