Grandma’s Ranger Cookies

Throughout my childhood, my grandma had a seemingly endless supply of these cookies. Every summer my family made our annual road trip up north to visit, and the moment our car pulled in the driveway after 5½ hours of being trapped in the backseat with my little brother, fighting as kids do (“But Mom, he’s looking at me!”), crossing each other’s invisible line drawn across the backseat, and fighting over who got the pillow (we never thought to pack two), we would scramble out of the car, suddenly best of friends, and make a beeline for that cookie jar.

According to her handwritten recipe for these, they were simply called “Cookies (Rice Krispies),” but years later I learned that they are called Ranger Cookies. No one seems to know what that name means or where it came from, but some theories indicate that they were named for the Texas Rangers or even the Lone Ranger. My grandparents lived on the Iron Range of Minnesota, so in my family, Ranger means home…history…family.

My recipe for these cookies was also published in the New York Times.

Grandma’s Ranger Cookies
2 sticks margarine
1 C oil (canola or vegetable)
1 C brown sugar
1 C white sugar
1 egg
2 t vanilla
3½ C flour
1 t cream of tartar
¾ t baking soda
¼ t salt
1 C crushed walnuts
1 C oats
1 C Rice Krispies

Cream margarine, oil and sugars. Add egg and vanilla and beat well. Sift in flour, cream of tartar, soda and salt. Add nuts, oats and Rice Krispies. Drop by tablespoons onto lightly greased baking sheets, roll into a loose ball, and press down gently with a fork. Bake at 350°F for 10 minutes or until edges are lightly browned.

Step by Step Details

This is a pretty easy, basic cookie recipe. When I first discovered my grandma’s handwritten recipe, I was thrilled to be able to recreate these nostalgic cookies of my childhood. She didn’t have any specific baking instructions, so I figured that out on my own.

I have to admit, though, that baking cookies with oil grossed me out a bit. I assumed it was an out of date, old-fashioned notion that would yield really greasy cookies. So I experimented with other fats, such as margarine, butter, or shortening, then realized two things. One, the recipe obviously worked with the oil: it didn’t work with any of my “healthy” substitutions; and two, my substitutions really weren’t any more healthy. In fact, the oil was one of the healthiest alternatives, when comparing trans fat and saturated fat content. So I trusted the recipe she’d used for years, and found that the cookies turned out just perfect. Grandma knows best.

Start by putting the margarine, oil and both sugars in a large bowl. (To make them a little better for you, and to give the cookies a great coconut flavor, you can substitute half of the oil with coconut oil.)

Using an electric mixer, cream them well, then add the egg and vanilla.

Beat well until very smooth. Sift the flour, cream of tartar, soda and salt into a separate bowl, and add that to the creamed butter mixture.

Ranger Cookies 012

Combine well using a wooden spoon, or the electric mixer on low, until well blended. Then add the nuts, oats and Rice Krispies and stir together with a wooden spoon until well mixed.

Drop by tablespoons onto lightly greased baking sheets. Roll each one into a loose ball and press down gently with a fork.

Bake at 350° for 10 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Enjoy!

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4 thoughts on “Grandma’s Ranger Cookies

  1. I also add unsweetened coconut from the health food store. It gives the cookies extra crunch. I call this recipe Coconut Crunchy Chews. They are my family’s favorite. My husband brings them to work. His landscaping crew loves them and when he doesn’t bring them to work for a while, they say, “Doesn’t your wife bake any more?”

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