still-life-with-cookies john stuart ingle
Presbyterian Cookies
by Penelope Moffet

First be born into
a Presbyterian family
or be born again
or just find yourself
a red-jacketed cookbook
printed 60 years ago.
Turn to page 60.
You do not need to be 60
or prone to finding
meaning in numbers
or Julia Child.
You may be a child
or a teen or a surly
young woman or
doddering saint.
Little depends on this.
Little depends on having
all the ingredients
or following instructions
as they are written but
don’t skimp on butter or sugar
or you will regret it
the rest of your days
which may be few
or many
or none at all,
your mouth full of sawdust.

PAINTING: Still Life with Cookies by John Stuart Ingle (late 20th century).

recipe 1

cookbook 1

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: During my high school and college years, my family lived in Placentia, California, where both of my parents were very involved with Placentia Presbyterian Church. I was, too, even teaching Sunday school to very small children, until I abruptly lost my faith midway through college. I did not, however, lose faith in the church’s cookbooks. I make these oatmeal-raisin-walnut cookies about once a month, frequently messing with the recipe—egg whites instead of whole eggs, half the sugar and half the margarine the recipe calls for, etc. One of these days I’ll use cranberries instead of raisins and try gluten-free flour. The oat bran isn’t essential. I almost never use it because I almost never have any around. You can substitute a couple of ripe bananas for the sugar. That’s pretty good. But don’t leave out all the fat (e.g., margarine, butter) and sweetener.

PHOTOS: Old-Fashioned Oat Cookie Recipe (above, center) and cover of Placentia Presbyterian Church recipe book, Galley Goodies (above, right). 


Penelope Moffet is the author of two chapbooks, most recently It Isn’t That They Mean to Kill You (Arroyo Seco Press, 2018). She works for a small law firm in Los Angeles, takes lots of solitary walks, and is entertained by two rambunctious cats.