I was always a hot lunch kid in elementary school, which I found delicious and a fun way to explore what I’ve pretty much always thought of as “white people food” that I couldn’t eat at home. Chicken nuggets, sloppy joes that everyone would get excited about which I thought were super gross, fish sticks… basically anything fried and/or covered with cheese. Also, quick google of my elementary school shows that you can look up the lunch menu online! This is incredible! I used to bring $40 checks to school for my lunch (fun fact my PIN number was 32367, I think.), which would last somewhere around two months- maybe $1.25 a day. Now it costs $2.50 a day for lunch. Still so little, and probably still so tasty and nutritious (I loved school lunch).
But some kids brought lunch to school. I’m about to say something fairly unrelated but I promise there’s a segue coming.
Every day in just about every math department I’ve been to, there’s a tradition of afternoon tea, generally at 3 p.m. in the math lounge, with tea and cookies. Back in Santa Barbara everyone came out and chatted for half an hour to an hour, sitting around on ratty old couches, while at Yale I was always surprised to see the grad students/professors/postdocs scurry out of nowhere to grab cookies/tea, then break into clumps around the room to talk math at the chalkboards. At UIC it seems like just graduate students show up on Monday through Thursday. But we have the special Friday teas at 4:15 after colloquium, and then we have the super special Wine and Cheese tea once a month.
Last month my friend Ellie and I decided to host the Wine and Cheese tea (tea is often run by graduate students). We had a bunch of department money and some time on our hands (our advisers were out of town that week), so we grabbed a Zipcar and went to town at my favorite place in Chicago.
Here’s the email I sent to the department:
It’s been a long week/month and by now, everyone should be settled in and back to the routines of the school year. Do you remember, back in the day, those elementary school lunches? Packing or unpacking lunchables, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, baby carrots, and best of all, homemade cookies? You can re-live it all again today at 4:15 in SEO 300, and since we aren’t little kids anymore, you can also enjoy those apples and peanut butter with a glass of wine. Or, if you prefer, a juice box.
These cookies are pretty straightforward: beat the butter and sugar, then add in egg and vanilla and beat that.
Next add all of your dry ingredients. You should as a matter of principle whisk together the dry ingredients ahead so you don’t get baking soda clumps, but I’m not very good with principles (seriously it took me a very long time to understand induction) so I just throw them all in there.
Then toss in the oats and the raisins, make your lil balls, and bake those suckers! I made little 1/2 TB sized balls which made a ton of adorable teeny cookies to feed the 50 or so people who come to wine and cheese tea.
Oatmeal Raisin cookies copied exactly from the Quaker container:
- 1/2 Cup(s) (1 stick) plus 6 tablespoons butter, softened
- 3/4 Cup(s) firmly packed brown sugar
- 1/2 Cup(s) granulated sugar
- 2 Eggs
- 1 Teaspoon(s) vanilla
- 1-1/2 Cup(s) all-purpose flour
- 1 Teaspoon(s) Baking Soda
- 1 Teaspoon(s) ground cinnamon
- 3 Cup(s) Quaker® Oats (quick or old fashioned, uncooked)
- 1 Cup(s) raisins
Beat butter and sugars for awhile.
Add eggs and vanilla, then beat it.
Add combined flour, baking soda, cinnamon; mix well. Add oats and raisins; mix well.
Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.
Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until light golden brown.