Emergency cookies


It’s now safe to name your favourite colour in this house, but name your favourite animal at your own risk. Bert’s dad agreed that he liked monkeys (he doesn’t particularly like monkeys) and now has two monkeys and a monkey balloon next to his bed and a sticker of a grinning gorilla behind the bedroom door at head height. I’m using an aardvark as a bookend (I genuinely love an aardvark, to be fair) and a medium-sized bear sits next to my perfume.

Much of this benevolence happens by stealth. Bert’s dad’s working in Canada at the moment and Bert and I happened to find out that the waters round Vancouver have sea otters in. Last night, two hours after Bert was in bed, I found a poster with two otters and the phrase ‘time for a snuggle!’ on it on the bed, on his dad’s side.

His dad made the mistake of mentioning that there are bears in Canada, and I’d say one out of three of the texts Bert regularly dictates and asks me to send is, ‘take a secret picture of the bears.’ His dad’s staying in a hotel in the middle of a large city. There’s absolutely no chance of running into a wild bear.

When he returns on Sunday we may well need emergency cookies.

Makes 30

225g butter

150g granulated sugar

150g soft brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 eggs

275g plain flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

A couple of handfuls of chocolate chips (or Easter egg chocolate in this case)

2 dessert spoons peanut butter powder

Cream butter and sugar together till they’re really light and fluffy – a good five minutes in the mixer or ten minutes with strong arms and stamina. Add the eggs and vanilla, then stir in the flour, peanut butter powder and baking powder. Stir the chocolate through.

You can just cook it now – pop teaspoons of mixture on an unlined baking tray and bake at 190 for 8-9 minutes. Or, even better, freeze teaspoons of mixture in an icecube tray, decanting to a container when completely frozen and keeping in the freezer till you need them.

Emergency? Is your child hungry? Angry? Hangry? Scuffed knee? Surprised by a friend’s unexpectedly tight cuddle? Shocked by someone calling them by their name at 8am in their own house ? Crushed that their mother didn’t pretend to be prey and get eaten by a sleeping lion on a dog walk, when the sleeping lion looked just like a five-year-old boy and she didn’t know she was prey? Then put the oven onto 180, get a couple of frozen cookie mixture balls out of the freezer and pop them, still frozen, onto an unlined baking sheet. Bake for 11-12 minutes, till golden, and eat warm.




Our Monday adventure was a bit compromised by the weather today so here’s our rainy day shortbread (the recipe’s a BBC Good Foods one). There’s some biscuit dough under that cushion somewhere.

Made about 25

250g soft butter

125g caster sugar (and more for sprinkling)

250g plain flour

125g semolina

Cream the butter and sugar together and then stir through the flour and semolina. Roll out to about a centimetre thick (it’s a pleasingly pliable playdough-like dough) and stamp out your shapes. Sprinkle with caster sugar on the baking tray. Bert measured ingredients, started the food processor, rolled out dough and stamped out shapes but looked at me as if I was insane when I suggested he sprinkle sugar on top.

In a two oven Aga, cook with the gridrack on the roasting oven floor and the cool shelf two rows above for 12-15 minutes till pale golden and then in the simmering oven on the third row down for another half an hour. In a conventional oven 160 degrees for 50 mins. So much easier to describe! But the Aga version was nice.


Oat and raisin cookies

oat cookies

Makes about 24

100g raisins

150ml vegetable oil

100g golden caster sugar

2 tablespoons apple sauce

1 egg

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

140g plain flour

¼ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

300g oats

Soak the raisins in 50ml of boiling water – the soaking plumps them up and stops them from burning in the oven. In a food processor, beat the oil and sugar together then add the remaining ingredients. Flatten dessert spoonfuls of the mixture on a lined baking sheet and cook at 180 degrees (or the grid shelf on the floor of the Aga roasting oven with the cool shelf two rows above) for about 13 minutes.

The apple sauce replaces some of the sugar so these are pretty worthy, as cookies go. We have these as an afternoon snack with milk, or an easy, filling pudding when Bert’s in a carb avoiding mood. I grabbed three for breakfast on the train this morning, too. Sorry Bert, that’s just the way it crumbles, cookie-wise.

Oat and cheese biscuits


Cheese hob nobs, I suppose. Biscuits to throw at a baby in a panic when you want it to eat quickly and then have a lunchtime nap. It would make a pretty balanced and splash-free portable lunch if you added a couple of sticks of cheese and some fruit.

I’ll be honest – there are days when we mostly eat biscuits.

Makes around 25

150g oatmeal

100g wholemeal flour

100g butter, cut into small pieces

1 teaspoon baking powder

75g grated cheese – I used half parmesan, half strong cheddar

30ml of milk

Weigh out the dry ingredients and then rub in the butter – by hand or by whizzing it in a food processor. Stir through the cheese and then the milk – it should start to clag. Gather into a ball and clingfilm, and put in the fridge for half an hour.

When it’s chilled, roll it out between two floured pieces of cling film to about 3mm thick and cut out discs with a small cutter or a champagne flute. I have no cutters – who needs them when the kitchen’s full of circular items? Bake at 180 for 11-13 minutes, or, with an Aga, on the grid shelf at the bottom of the roasting oven with the cold shelf two rows up.

These keep in an air tight container for a week or two, though I don’t think home-made biscuits ever get as far as going off.

Date digestives


A digestive meets a fig roll and has a gariboldi baby.

The more indulgent version has a bit of salt, twice the sugar, no dates and the tops brushed with melted chocolate.

Makes about 25

125g wholemeal plain flour

125g oatmeal

40g soft brown sugar

40g chopped pitted dried dates

3/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon baking powder

125 butter, cut into small pieces

30-50 ml milk

Put the dry ingredients into a food processor and pulse to blend. Add the butter and pulse till you get the ‘breadcrumbs’ look. Add the milk little by little until the breadcrumbs start to, er, clot. Bring together into a ball and put in the fridge for about half an hour.

Then roll your biscuit ball out between two floured sheets of clingfilm to about 3mm thick. Cut into small discs – a champagne flute’s about the right size. And cook on a baking sheet at 180 degrees for 11 minutes. They should be lightly golden brown.

Or, if you’ve got an Aga, on the grid shelf on the bottom of the roasting oven with the cold shelf two rows up.