Old Tin Cans and Oatmeal Cookies

They’re just old empty tin cans resting in my cupboard…now faded orange and green on which the word “Awake” is emblazoned. No top lid. No bottom lid. Vintage. Well used. What a personal story they can tell!

What is that personal story, you might ask? It’s all about the working relationship between oatmeal cookies and these tin cans.

Traditionally, oatmeal cookies are moist and chewy consisting of warm, fragrant spices and raisins. However, as a youngster, my association with oatmeal cookies came in the form of a recipe called Oatmeal Crispies that Mom would mix, refrigerate, and bake. No spices. No raisins. Dad loved them!

Beware Cookie-dough lovers out there! It’s hard to resist taste-testing this dough before baking even though it contains raw eggs. My sister has admitted to this!

As these cookies metamorphosed from dough to crispy discs of “yum,” our farm kitchen had the wonderful aroma of toasted oats and brown sugar.

Our retro Dutch lady cookie jar eagerly awaited holding these crispy treats in her plump little ceramic tummy. She was designed with a permanent smile adorning her face. Wouldn’t you have a permanent smile, too, if your job was to love and protect cookies? She sat on our red Formica kitchen counter patiently awaiting the arrival of cookie pleasure. Then when big and small hands reached in, she happily relinquished her stash. Sometimes cookies left one at a time. Other times, it was by the handful.

So, what’s the connection between the old empty tin cans and these cookies?

Since this is a refrigerator cookie, it needs to be formed into a roll and cooled so that the ingredients hold together better before slicing and baking. Mom appreciated having her cookies uniformly shaped. So, she creatively and frugally used those clean “Awake” tin cans to cuddle this cookie dough so that uniform slices of cookies could be cut. The cans were the perfect size for this project! She used the tin lid to push the cookie dough out of the circular tin as she sliced each ¼-inch-size disc. No, she didn’t use a ruler to measure each slice. She “eyeballed” them. Mom was a seamstress, and once you become an experienced seamstress, it’s easy to “eyeball” a measurement without the aid of a ruler or tape measure.

I inherited these old empty tins. One might kiddingly say, “Boy, that’s quite an inheritance!” Well, yes, I really do treasure these circles of printed tin. They have been like little puppy dogs, trailing along with me as I have moved from state to state and from home to home.

Plus, this vintage type of tin can is no longer available. You can’t buy them like that because metal can manufacturers have changed the way the top and bottom lids are applied to the can making them unusable for this refrigerator cookie application.

Never fear, though, Oatmeal Crispies can be made without the aid of these helpers. Just form the dough into a roll, wrap in parchment paper or waxed paper, refrigerate, slice, and bake.

With Fall around the corner, the great aromas that waft from the oven when these yummies are baking will cause your taste buds to dance! Let’s see, will that be a two-step, a waltz, a polka, your choice? Plus, your full cookie jar will keep smiling!


1 cup shortening 1-1/2 cups flour
1 cup brown sugar 1 tsp. salt
1 cup granulated sugar 1 tsp. baking soda
2 beaten eggs 3 cups quick-cooking oatmeal, uncooked
1 tsp. vanilla ½ cup finely chopped walnuts, optional

METHOD: Using a mixer, thoroughly cream together the shortening and sugars. Add eggs and vanilla. Beat well. In a medium-size bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking soda. Add to the creamed mixture and mix until incorporated. Add the oatmeal and optional nuts. Form dough into rolls that are approximately 2 inches in diameter. Refrigerate until firm. Using a sharp knife, slice ¼-inch thick round discs. Place on parchment-covered baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees about 14 minutes. Cookies will spread some while baking. Makes about 3-1/2 dozen cookies.


ADDENDUM: Oh, by the way, the answer to the multiple choice question from two weeks’ ago was “D.” I have recipes stored in many locations throughout our home! You too?

Miss NiNi

Want to talk about baking? You can chat with Miss NiNi at chat@missnini.com