I quit baking throughout my entire 20’s. Oh, now and then I would make my mom’s famous biscuit recipe for a holiday party, but those moments were few and far between. The thing that struck me when I began baking again after getting married was how incredibly effective baking is as a form of bribery. Baking something is such a simple way to make other people happy and create a moment of peace amidst chaos. Mad at me? Have a chocolate chip cookie! Works every time.
Chocolate chip cookies have become a daily staple in our household, at least for my husband who has the metabolism of a roadrunner and insists that he desperately needs the oats I add to the mix. I send half a dozen (small) cookies along with his lunch and he often has milk and cookies at night before going to bed. Which brings us to the second part of this post. Milk and cookies is an incredibly comforting phrase, conjuring up domesticity, children’s books, Santa Claus… until you start talking about RAW MILK. Dun dun dun DUNNNNNNNHHHHHH.
Raw milk brings up a great deal of raw emotion, between horrified opponents and embarrassingly passionate proponents duking it out with language on an apocalyptic level. How far we have come from the comforting biblical concept of the land flowing with (raw) milk and honey. Today, the mention of raw milk conjures up for many a vision of milk flowing with listeria and other dangerous micro-organisms. Here is the milk that is currently on tap here in my household.
Oh that label. It sears my farmer marketing soul. I spent years working with farmers to help them create clear,beautiful, recognizable labels for their products to help them sell as much local produce as possible. I spent years working with the brilliant minds at the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project (follow that link! I took the picture on the bottom right of the Local Food Guide!) to create the most effective and aesthetically pleasing local branding and labeling possible, and here I am buying a product designed to strike fear into the soul.
Let me type out the small print. The legally required label for raw milk here in Pennsylvania reads in uncompromising and unaesthetically appealing language:
“RAW MILK -Whole unpastuerized milk-rBST free-Soy free-Grass fed
Raw (unpasteurized) milk may contain disease causing microorganisms. Persons at highest risk of disease from these organisms include newborns and infants, the elderly, pregnant women, those taking cortisteroids, antibiotics and antacids and those having chronic illnesses or other conditions that weaken their immunity.”
Pretty bleak. However, although I have aesthetic objections to the labeling and to the fact that raw milk producers are forced to display warnings on par with cigarette packaging, I am grateful that I can purchase this milk, in town, in a grocery store, legally. Pennsylvania laws allow raw milk production, and inspect the farms that sell raw milk here in the state. As a girl from the deep dairy country of Wisconsin, I am pretty realistic about milk production, the constant battle against tides of cow manure, and the vast ranges of cleanliness and animal health at different farms. I am happy to know that my raw milk comes from a local and legal small farm. I am also happy to consume locally produced pasteurized bGH free milk.
The reason that we drink raw milk is that last summer at a glorious party on a neighboring farm on the ridge, my husband was captured for a long and intense conversation with Vince from St. Brigid’s Meadows about the glories of raw milk. Vince is a passionate guy, and an intense salesman, and in the course of his pitch he mentioned that among many other things raw milk cures eczema. Now, Casey had been battling a patch of this for a while, exacerbated by his mixed martial arts hobby that has him rolling around on sweaty mats on a regular basis. He’d used steroid creams that had him warding me off and staying far away from the baby so we wouldn’t grow hair on our chests, and the creams had limited success. For months he begged me to try raw milk. I scoffed at this notion, sure that it was a pipe dream. However, I finally picked up half a gallon and lo and behold, it worked. As long as he drinks a glass of raw milk a day, the patch of itching miserable irritated skin subsides, stops itching, and looks normal. As soon as he quits the milk, it is back again. So that is why we drink raw milk. It works for us.
Whew. What an intense topic. Maybe you’d like some raw milk right now, and maybe you believe that it is the devils brew, but I bet that no matter what, you like cookies. I will now share my top secret, totally amazing, never fail, completely healthy (oats!) chocolate chip cookie recipe. Have some milk (raw or pasteurized or goat or almond if you absolutely must) and cookies, and I promise that all will be well.
Kate’s Chocolate Chip Cookies
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup vegetable oil (or more butter if you are a WI fanatic with access to an Organic Valley bucket of butter)
1 cup brown sugar and 1/2 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs (ideally farm fresh brown eggs, but any eggs will do)
2 cups flour
2 cups oats
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
chocolate chips to taste (I use 1/3- 1/2 of a bag at most with this recipe)
Preheat oven to 375 while you combine softened butter, oil, and sugar. Add vanilla and eggs. Add dry goods slowly, then chocolate chips. Drop with a teaspoon onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 8 minutes. Enjoy with a glass of milk.