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Desperate Situation December 21, 2008

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.

Two days ago I (but really, my man Tim and his sister Amy) received an e-mail from my step-father-in-law with the subject line “Desperate situation.” Tim and Amy’s mother, Pinky, recently suffered a fall while visiting New York City. She broke her arm. This has put a strain on her Christmas preparations, and apparently her husband is trying to take on some of the annual tasks. Said tasks include baking more cookies than twenty hungry humans could possibly eat in several weeks.

A family favorite is a chocolate/peanut butter/oatmeal candylike concoction that they call dog biscuits. I had these growing up too, but I’d never heard that name for them before getting involved with this family. I’ve never made them.

I imagine I got copied on this e-mail because Danny knew I would enjoy reading it. Too bad he doesn’t have a blog. I’ve decided to quietly share his adventure here. Happy holidays!

(And my take? Theory #3.)


Pinky’s handicap has placed a number of critical duties on my shoulders. Things like cooking, cleaning, shopping, gift wrapping, cookie making, to name a few.

This morning I was able to follow directions well enough to make a batch of cookies containing cornflakes and butterscotch drops. Buoyed up by this success, I then moved up in difficulty to make “dog biscuits.” Any success I had with cornflakes was totally lost with the dog biscuits. As of this message, I have disposed of three batches of semi-liquid dog biscuits.

I did not take on the dog biscuits without consulting with Pinky. She advised me of the pitfalls ahead, especially about the 1-minute period of boiling. And she has concluded that she has no specific suggestion to make to avoid a fourth useless batch.

Here are some of the things she has offered as explanations for my failures:

  1. Didn’t measure things right. I reject this idea outright. My experiences in chem labs simply rule this out.
  2. Stirred the mixture of cocoa, sugar, milk, and oleo while it was heating it instead of just mixing the stuff and letting it sit undisturbed while it heated up to boiling. Here again I invoke experience from chemistry. If you want things to mix while heating, stir constantly.
  3. I put the oatmeal into the hot mixture first, instead of putting the peanut butter in first. I admit that I do not know what reactions take place in making these cookies, but I can’t believe the order of putting things into the mixture makes a difference.
  4. The whole thing is beyond me. I don’t really like to think about this.

Anyhow, if you want dog biscuits when you get here, give me a description of how you make them. She said you have made them in the past, which makes me believe it can’t be very hard. Here is what her recipe and directions say:

Mix ½ cup of milk, 2 cups of sugar, ¼ cup of cocoa, and ½ cup of oleo in a pan. Have on hand ½ cup of peanut butter, 3 cups of oatmeal, and 1 tsp of vanilla.

Heat the first mixture until it boils, and let it boil for 1 minute. Pinky says it has to boil everywhere, not just in the middle, and that it should not be stirred while heating or boiling.

After 1 minute of boiling, add the additional three ingredients, stir, and then spoon the stuff out onto wax paper and watch as it solidifies almost instantly. Hah! I have half a trash can full of half-liquid drops of the mixture as evidence that this does not happen.

To settle my nerves, I gave up on the dog biscuits and made two cheese balls.

Anyhow, if you have any suggestions to make send them as soon as possible. These are trying times.


1. Cedar Waxwing - December 21, 2008


Have not heard that word since my grandmother was alive!

This man needs a blog.

Thanks IB — entertaining. Hope folks get their dog biscuits. (Hmm, makes me want to try to make them)

2. indigobunting - December 21, 2008

I don’t even think I knew that word as a young kid…something I had to learn in my late teens/early 20s when hearing it for the first time!

3. Bridgett - December 21, 2008

All my mother in law’s recipes contain the word oleo. My mother still puts it on her shopping list (and comes home with that heart smart margarine tub stuff).

I agree, #3 seems the most likely…

4. laurie - December 21, 2008

this made me laugh.

and someone needs to tell him that cheese balls–even two cheese balls–is no subsitute for cookies.

ps oleo used to be illegal in wisconsin. true story. to protect the dairy farmers.

5. Lynda - December 22, 2008

He should definitely have a blog – what a witty man!

Clearly, he has no faith in Tim or Amy (or you, since even though you were only copied, you were still a recipient), stating that:

“She (Pinky) said you have made them in the past, which makes me believe it can’t be very hard.”


I happen to like cheese balls better than cookies (you know my whole sweet vs savory thing), so he wins in my book!

6. indigobunting - December 22, 2008

Lynda: That very line was the one that made me laugh the most!

7. Eulalia (Lali) Benejam Cobb - December 22, 2008

That man is adorable! Such funny writing, especially from a chemist. I want to meet him when he comes to visit you.

8. Adam Byrn Tritt - December 23, 2008

I’ll have to try this. I like liquid cookies. Any fudge I make comes out liquid. It is a talent, I confess.

It is so hard to tell, during this season, if people are serious or not when calling a certain task critical. wrapping presents and making cookies critical? Ah well – the eyes of the outsider.

9. Elizabeth Torak - December 28, 2008

This is delightful and hilarious!

However, his most serious problem is that he can not believe that he can have been wrong anywhere – an assumption that must be thoroughly reexamined…

I too think the problem is with three- why doesn’t he try that?

10. indigobunting - December 28, 2008

Elizabeth: He had success at last, with his wife peering over his shoulder. What, ultimately, the original problem was, I never discovered. The cookies, however, were quite good.

11. Elizabeth Torak - December 28, 2008

After I wrote the comment above I wondered about the oatmeal: if he was using instant instead of regular or vice versa…amazing how intriguing any kind of riddle is!

12. indigobunting - December 29, 2008

Adam: “Critical” was certainly tongue in cheek here.

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