#4 of 40 Days of Baking: Mema's Cowboy Cookies

#4 of 40 Days of Baking: Mema's Cowboy Cookies

A house needs a grandma in it.

– Louisa May Alcott

If you follow my writing career, you know I had three very special grandmothers. And as you may have read in the short story memoir of Virginia’dele Smith, they all three touched my life in profound and cherished ways. I’m blessed to have hand-written recipe cards from each of them, so their impact lives on in our home ❤️

Today’s bake is inspired by one such recipe: my Mema’s oatmeal cookies.

I call them Cowboy Cookies to honor a very special man: Don Marley.


Many years ago — but as clear in my mind as if it happened last week — I sat twirling left to right and back to the left again on a swivel stool at Mema’s gigantic island. She stood on the other side of it, placing, pinning, and cutting a dress pattern to fabric for a custom seamstress order. I loved watching her sew!

Beside me sat Don Marley. He wore Wrangler jeans, well-worn leather cowboy boots, and a long-sleeve pearl-snap denim shirt. He’d removed his baseball cap upon entering through the front door a few minutes earlier, and he'd walked straight to the coffee pot, which never ran out and stayed fresh all day. He’d gently tugged one of my French braids as he sat on the stool next to mine, balancing his hat on one knee.

Don Marly didn’t say much, but his kind smile spoke for him. His eyes — crystal blue in my mind — told me without words that I was valued and loved. He was glad I was there, happy to see me. He didn’t have to say it out loud; I simply felt it.

He sipped his coffee, I spun my stool, and Mema chatted as she trimmed tissue paper and layers of fabric to create something wonderful.

After a bit, Don Marley stood to go refill his mug, passing the cookie jar on his way across the kitchen. Like the coffee pot, Mema’s cookie jar never emptied and always stayed fresh. On his way back to his stool, Don Marley lifted the lid on that cookie jar with a pointed glance at me.

“Want one?” he asked.

“What kind are they?” I countered.

“Cowboy cookies,” Don Marley said.

“Are they good?”

“Well, yeah,” he laughed.

“Then I want one,” I assured him.

That made Don Marley chuckle, which had been my intention, so I wore a triumphant grin when he placed a napkin and cookie in front of me, accompanied by a cold glass of milk.

He set a napkin and cookie in front of himself, too. We sat together, me and Don Marley, enjoying our cowboy snack, and watching Mema work.

I’ve treasured these delicious oatmeal cookies ever since.


Like my beautifully woven family, Cowboy Cookies have a little bit of everything thrown into them. In their case, oats, butter, two kinds of sugar, dates, raisins, Craisins®, pecans, two eggs, a little of this, a touch of that, and a pinch of salt combine to create one fabulous cookie. They’re hearty and strong, sweet and scrumptious. With one taste, they bring to mind people I’ve lost but still cherish, with all my heart.

Love and hugs,



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