I didn't forget about all you doting fathers out there on this, your day of days. It's just easy to forget when your own dad has long departed this world. No crybaby nonsense here, you understand. It's just been a month of Sundays and more since he wandered over for dinner.
And, oh, sweet Lord, that man could eat the pattern off the porcelain -- anything and everything, though frankly he favored dead simple foods like red beans and rice, fricasse of chicken and any fish, fixed any way, as long as it was fresh enough to still smell of the salted water it was caught in.
I remember the menu for his 80th birthday dinner was a strange one indeed. He'd been hearing things on TV, he said, about how such foods as fish and beans and oatmeal were good for you, good for your heart, contributing to longevity.
He had hated oatmeal as kid, he said, because my grandmother never offered him and his brothers anything else for breakfast, but it seems she had known the right thing to do without knowing she knew it.
Who knew he paid attention to such things? He was, after all, one of the most uncomplicated people I've ever known. He had two frames of mind: happily contented or madder than hell. Short fuse, big noise, forgotten in a flash.
He loved fishing better than anything. One young Bay Rat (OK, Tony Trapani) once described fishing as a kind of religion, for himself and for my dad. He was on the money with that observation.
And so that birthday dinner menu included fish (catfish, if memory serves), a side dish of broad beans and tomatoes and a bar cookie for dessert made with -- you bet -- oatmeal.
All of those actual recipes went the way of everything else in that little dust-up with Mother Nature a few years back, but recipes didn't matter. My dad thought anything I cooked was great, and he always had seconds and carried a bit home "for later."
As more of a tribute than anything, to my dad and all you fantastic fathers out there, here's an oatmeal cookie recipe that's good anytime.
3/4 cup vegetable shortening
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups rolled oats (quick or old fashioned, uncooked)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt (optional)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Heat oven to 350 degrees. In large bowl, beat brown sugar, shortening and granulated sugar until creamy. Add egg, water and vanilla; beat well. Add combined oats, flour, salt and baking soda; mix well. Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 11 to 13 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Remove to wire rack. Cool completely. Store tightly covered.
Tips and Variations:
Add 1 cup of any one or a combination of any of the following ingredients to basic cookie dough: raisins, chopped nuts, chocolate chips or shredded coconut.
LARGE COOKIES: Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 15 to 17 minutes. ABOUT 2-1/2 DOZEN
BAR COOKIES: Press dough onto bottom of ungreased 13 x 9-inch baking pan. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Cut into bars. Store tightly covered. Makes 24 BARS.
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