Allow yourself a couple extra minutes to read this post. Settle in, kick up your feet, and take a trip to The Hamptons withme, East Hampton to be precise. We would drive up a long gravel driveway and pull up to a rather large house, which wouldn't be all that unusual considering the neighborhood we are in. In fact, it would look much like every other house if not for an unusual structure across the yard from the main building. At first glance, it looks like a barn, until we get closer and realize that it's so much more than a building used to house farm animals.
The scents wafting from this unusually beautiful barn are tempting and sweet, urging us to pick up our pace and discover the source of this decadent aroma. We knock on the door, because barns don't have doorbells of course. A few moments pass before the door swings gently open. In the doorway stands none other than The Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten, holding a plate of the most delicious-looking cookies we have ever seen. Because she is The Barefoot Contessa and always ready for company, she invites us in to enjoy these sweet treats. It's like having your mom bake you cookies as a child, but this time you are an adult, and The Barefoot Contessa has taken over mom's post.
In reality, I am a fraud. I don't know what Ina Garten's home in The Hamptons looks like, or where her barn is situated on the property. And I'm guessing she is not sitting around, baking cookies, waiting for complete strangers to trespass on her property so she can invite them in with open arms and a plate of hot cookies. But to me, that is Ina, warm and affable and a truly amazing cook and hostess to even the most insignificant of guests.
When my own mother bought me The Barefoot Contessa's Back to Basics cookbook, I was skeptical. Could anything replace the all-encompassing and flawless Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook? I was willing to give it a try, at least for the sake of being a gracious gift-receiver. From the first recipe, I was captured. One after another, each recipe as flawless as the last, Ina Garten's fresh and minimal recipes were exactly as I aim to make my own. While I tested out the savory recipes, my mom embraced the sweets.
If ever there were a professional cookie connoisseur certification, my mom would certainly have a framed certificate of her very own. So when she began to rave about the oatmeal raisin cookies from Ina's book, I knew they must be something special. It was months before I came home from college and tried one of these cookies. In the meantime, many a night I would call to chat with my mom, only to find out she was baking yet another batch of cookies to share with friends, family, and co-workers.
The minute I bit into one of these little treats myself, I was sold. Crispy edges, chewy centers, chock full of oatmeal, raisins, and toasted pecans, I can't imagine a better cookie. Unfortunately I can't share the recipe with you all, for fear of copyright infringement, but I can tell you these cookies make buying the cookbook worth it. Even if you do not like anything else in the entire book.... it's all about these cookies. When we make them at home, they are usually larger than the ones I've made here. Over-sized, wrapped in cellophane, and tied with ribbon, they make the perfect gift. Something about these cookies whispers sophistication, just as I imagine Ina herself would.
Heading down south to North Carolina with my dad to see my grandma this weekend. Expect some great Southern food to be featured in my next post. Yum!