Of all the recipes from my hundreds of cookbooks and scrap-paper mishmash, there’s only one that predates my cooking career and has remained a part of my life.
It was 1993. After six months working as a reporter in South Africa, I was living with my mother, struggling with midtwenties angst about what next to do in life. I started reading cookbooks. I don’t remember where or exactly when I picked up a copy of Sacramental Magic in a Small-Town Café, but I do remember feeling spiritually pulled by the title.
Among the collection was a recipe for “Energy Cookies,” an egg-free, hippie-granola sort of thing that contains four kinds of seeds, plus oats and raisins.
Although skeptical that a cookie without eggs would hold together, I fell in love at first bite. More like a biscuit than a cookie, this was unlike anything I had ever baked. The sweetness was wholesome rather than sugary. The toasted seeds imparted a rich nuttiness that (yes!) was reminiscent of granola, but this was much more interesting.
“I can eat these for breakfast,” I declared out loud, gobbling the entire batch (with enough fiber for an entire week) and imagining the many ways these scrumptious little morsels could work their way into my life. And so they did.
I made them constantly, sharing with friends and spreading, essentially, what became cookie gospel. Eventually my love for this seeded-raisin cookie fueled a small commercial enterprise; for a few months I baked weekly batches to sell at the diner where I worked (and where my name was Lulu).
Over the years, these cookies have become an indispensable life source — as overseas flight snacks, boyfriend and party treats, housewarming gifts, postgym pick-me-ups. And to this day I continue to receive cookie requests.
Earlier this summer, I checked on my dear friend “B,” who had just given birth for the third time. The only thing she wanted me to bring her was a batch of Lulu’s cookies.
Adapted from (and originally published as “Energy Cookies” in) Sacramental Magic in a Small-Town Café, by Brother Peter Reinhart
1/2 cup each sunflower seeds, pepitas (pumpkin seeds) and sesame seeds
2 tablespoons flaxseed
4 cups flour
2 cups oats
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup raisins
1 cup hot water
1 cup canola oil
1 cup honey
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips (as much as 3/4 cup, if you prefer)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toast seeds on a baking sheet about eight minutes, or until the sesame seeds turn a golden color. Be careful not to burn the seeds.
Remove the seeds from the oven and allow them to cool thoroughly.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, oats, baking powder and salt.
Soak raisins in hot water for about 15 minutes. Drain the raisins but reserve the raisin water.
Add raisin water to dry mixture, plus canola oil and honey. With a rubber spatula, stir until combined. Add cooled seeds and stir to combine, then add raisins and chocolate chips. Don’t overmix.
Form teaspoon-sized patties on a cookie sheet, preferably lined with parchment paper.
Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Don’t overbake; the cookies will turn into rocks.
Makes about 50 cookies.