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I’m writing this as little snippets of snow try to find their way earthward. No serious falling, more meandering — distracted snowflakes.

It’s winter, and the holidays are gone, and we’re in for three months of cold. Time to turn to citrus.

Gram had several dessert recipes that featured oranges and lemons. Before the advent of any fruit at any time from anywhere in the world, citrus fruits were welcome bright spots in the winter grocery. I picture Grammy going to (I think) Gristede’s, right around the corner from her apartment in New York City. “I’m going to do the marketing.” She’d poke around the produce bins, seeing which lemons and oranges were heavy and shiny. She’d check out and go on her way, sure in the knowledge that her groceries — always delivered in old New York — would follow her home in due time.

These cookies are light, delicately flavored and semi-virtuous by way of a handful each of oats and nuts. If you have a strong honey, like chestnut or manuka, this is a great place to use it. Don’t sweat it if all you’ve got is the little bear-ful of clover honey.

The recipe’s quantity is a nice fit for a midwinter dinner: You’re making 30 cookies, not doing a massive 8-dozen holiday bake. I had an oatie orange with a big navel orange as an after-dinner sweet, having fun with the play of orange-on-orange. And I put the cookies on the good china, too, just for fun.

Oatie Orange Cookies

Makes 30 cookies

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons strong-flavored honey, or regular if that’s all you have
  • 1 egg
  • Grated rind of one large orange
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/4 teaspoon double-acting baking powder
  • 1/2 cup oats, either quick cooking or old fashioned
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped or broken walnuts

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, cream together softened butter, sugar and honey. Beat in egg and orange rind. In a smaller bowl, combine flour, salt and baking powder; add flour mixture and juice to the butter/orange mixture and mix well. Stir in oats and walnuts.

Drop cookies by large rounded teaspoonsful onto parchment, leaving about 2 inches between them (they’ll spread, but not much). Bake for 9-11 minutes, until edges are lightly browned. Use a spatula to transfer cookies to racks to cool completely.

Recipe and photo copyright 2010 Garside Group LLC

Is it just me, or are oatmeal cookies real sugar-bombs?

I made the ones from the original Silver Palate Cookbook this weekend, choosing that recipe over the “Vanishing Oatmeal Cookies” one in the lid of the oatmeal container. In part, this was my nod of farewell to Sheila Lukins, co-author of the SPC, who died last month. But the pragmatic reason was to avoid excess oilness: The “Vanishing” cookies have 33 percent more butter than the Silver Palate ones. (Or the Silver Palate cookies have 25 percent less butter than the “Vanishing” ones. Thank you, Miss Hughes, for seventh- and eighth-grade math.)

Now, the cookies I made disappeared just fine. I gave a fifteen-minute tour of our house while I left my brother and my husband alone in the kitchen with the cookie plate.

They seemed to have no problem with these cookies. The sweetness, however, really got to me. Is this because essentially oats have no flavor, and the character of the cookies rests on the sugar? I don’t think so. So is there an oatmeal cookie out there that backs down on the sugar, and amps up the oatiness, or raisinyness, or any of the other great qualities of these classic gems?

Grammy didn’t have an oatmeal cookie recipe in her repertoire, perhaps because there were other go-to cookies already in the fold. But I’m thinking that perhaps there should be such a recipe in the book. I’m also thinking it should feature golden raisins (my faves), and maybe even nuts to add character. That doesn’t take it TOO far from classic, right?

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