Old friends

May 15, 2018

Salted Cherry Almond Oatmeal Cookies / JillHough.com

Recently, I visited Rancho La Puerta, one of my favorite places on Earth, with two of my favorite people on Earth—Pam and Linda, my best friends from college. It was heaven, even more than Rancho La Puerta is usually heaven. As we basked in the glow of each other’s company, we wondered—what is it about old friends? What’s so great about being together? Why do we treasure it so?

Here’s what I think.

Around old friends I feel known. Really known. Like, they’ve seen every goofy hairdo, met every regrettable boyfriend, and heard the saga of every job, every diet, and every family drama. They remember that Hawaiian shirt that I hardly took off for about five years almost as fondly as I do. They know the breadth and depth of my accomplishments and my mishaps. And because of all that, they know who I am, have been, and hope to be with a richness that few others ever will.

(Here’s the three of us in college—could we be any cuter?—along with my Hawaiian shirt.)

Pam, Jill, and Linda, in college / JillHough.com

Feeling that known is very, very precious. Being with Pam and Linda, I feel loved, nurtured, comforted, at peace, and at home.

No small trick.

Since I was at Rancho La Puerta to teach cooking classes, I also thought about how some foods are like old friends in that they, too, make you feel nurtured, at peace, and at home. Comfort foods. They’ve also been with us through thick and thin, they inspire reminiscing, and they make us feel loved.

All of which gave me to a monster craving for oatmeal cookies, a personal comfort food, so that’s the recipe I’m sharing today.

Salted Cherry Almond Oatmeal Cookies / JillHough.com

Salted Cherry Almond Oatmeal Cookies are slightly adapted from the recipe we used at my café in Sausalito—one that was given to me by yet-another old friend from college for whom I will be forever grateful (for the cookies, yes, and so very much more—but that’s another story).

Three things take them beyond the basic. One, a generous hand with the spices (thank you, Lynne). Two, cherries instead of raisins and almond extract instead of vanilla. And three, a sprinkle of salt on top—to enhance the spices, cherries, and almonds and make the still-comforting favorite thoroughly modern.

How to keep old friendships modern? I think just being together on a regular basis does the trick. It adds to the history, keeps us current with each other, and continues making the relationships richer and deeper.

(How do we manage to get together regularly? It’s genius, really, and yet crazy simple. We have a savings account and each of us makes a small monthly deposit. It affords us an all-expenses-paid, honest-to-God luxury vacation about every five years. Steal this idea. Seriously.)

We’re already planning our next get-together, a visit to our college town where it all began.

I can’t wait.

Meanwhile, email visits—and Salted Cherry Almond Oatmeal Cookies—will have to do.

Salted Cherry Almond Oatmeal Cookies / JillHough.com

A few more comfort food recipes:
Raspberry Vanilla Bean Scones
Simple, Satisfying Minestrone Soup
Chicken Soup with Rice
Herbed Pumpkin Risotto with Aged Balsamic
Chicken Pozole Verde
Wine-Simmered Beef Stew with Carrots, Mushrooms, and Sweet Onions
Ice Cream
Mexican Chocolate and Cherry Brownies
The World’s Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

A few more posts about Rancho La Puerta, which felt like an old friend from the very first visit:
An incredible week at Rancho La Puerta
A magical place
Rancho La Puerta, 2014

And here’s a fun post from The New Yorker about comfort foods (thanks for pointing it out, Dianne Jacob!)


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