One of the biggest mistakes that I think people make after graduating high school is believing that what they decide to do next will solely determine the rest of their lives. While it’s certainly true–and certainly a bit scary–that every new choice will AFFECT their adult lives, I have to keep reminding myself that things change. Transfers can be made; majors can be changed; job interviews may be botched and apartment deals may fall through. It’s way too constricting to think in terms of finding that ONE perfect college, major, job, etc., because you never know what new passions, opportunities, or disappointments may come along.
This past year has taught me to take life one step at a time. Contrary to how it sometimes feels near the end of high school/beginning of college, there’s no “right choice” as to what to do next. I’m more than happy with the school I chose, and although I’m pretty set on minoring in Spanish I still haven’t decided on a major. Psychology and creative writing are the top contenders, both of which I have a natural interest in and see myself pursuing as careers in some form or another. The problem was that for a long time, I kept thinking in terms of elimination, as though I had to keep crossing off less-important interests in my life until I narrowed it down to the one, the strongest of my interests that would then become my career.
As I thought about it though, I decided that that was ridiculous. My dad, an anthropology major/geography minor, has been a construction worker, park ranger, and teacher during different times in his life, and almost every adult I can think of has followed more than that one perfect path. It’s not as though I can make a huge mistake by majoring in creative writing, as if I would have to somehow give up my interest in psychology or any hope of having a career in which it’s involved. Yes, my chosen degree may change my range of job opportunities or qualifications after college/grad school, but I have to believe that things tend to work out in the end. Sometimes I have to tell my cut-throat, rational self to shut up for a minute and let my optimist side take the lead!
Basically, my philosophy right now is to experiment, find out what I love and what I don’t love as much as I thought I did, and get rid of the mindset that I can’t have more than one passion. Aaaand, that passion doesn’t necessarily have to take form as a job! Maybe someday it will be harder to simply “change my mind,” but for now that’s kind of the point. One of my favorite quotes has always been “the biggest mistake you can make in life is to live in fear of making one!”
You know, all of this applies to more than just school and education and careers…it also applies to cookies. I see recipes all the time claiming to be the best this, the perfect that, and sometimes I fall into the trap of trying to choose. Somewhere out there must be the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe, the perfect flawless pie crust, the best blackberry pie. But maybe, just maybe, there can be more than one “perfect!” Sometimes I’m in the mood for the super-soft chocolate chip pudding cookie, but other times I want the more traditional thick and chewy ccc’s. I often fall into the habit of making my favorites over and over again (which, by the way I do not see as a problem!), buuuut sometimes it’s fun to try something else, something that might be just as good in its own different way.
I’ve probably tried about a dozen different oatmeal cookie recipes over the years, ranging from thin/crispy/chewy to thick/soft/chunky. Sometimes I’m more creative with dried cranberries, white chocolate chips, coconut, macadamia nuts, etc., and sometimes I leave the cookies plain and pure. For some recipes I add in raisins and a dash of cinnamon, while other times I go for chocolate chips. Often I add both! Is there one right way to make oatmeal cookies? I say no!
So, although I already have these and these and these and these and these aaaand these on the blog, I’m adding another oatmeal cookie recipe. Because it’s always good to have options! And who can say no to Oatmeal-Chocolate Chunk Cookies? These are in the camp of crispy on the edges, chewy in the middle, and extra-oaty. Definitely one of the best cookies around 🙂
Oatmeal-Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Yield: about 3 dozen cookies
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups old-fashioned oats
1 & 1/2 cups chocolate chunks
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.* Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone mat and set aside.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, followed by the vanilla.
In a smaller bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir the flour mixture into the wet ingredients just until combined. Stir in the oats, chocolate chunks, and walnuts. Form the dough into balls about 1.5 tablespoons each. *To prevent spreading, you may choose to chill the unbaked cookies for 30-60 minutes. In this case, wait to preheat the oven.
When ready to bake, place the cookie dough balls 2 inches apart onto prepared cookie sheets. Bake for 12-14 minutes, or until edges are golden-brown and centers are set. Be careful not to over-bake if you prefer chewy rather than crispy cookies! Let the cookies cool on the sheets for 3 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.
(Recipe adapted from Brown Eyed Baker, originally from Baking Illustrated)