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On social theory, theses, and drastic measures involving cookies

It’s that time again. Behold a reprise of geekiness.

I’m a sucker for social theory. Really, there's nothing sexier than the name “Michel Foucault,” and that's a non-debatable point. A close second goes to a man I once knew who, between sips of beer, spoke the words “Baudrillard” and “simulacra” so suggestively that I blushed, broke a sweat, and nearly passed out. He didn’t stick around for long, but by god, social theory did. In fact, the two of us have just begun the arduous process of writing a Master’s thesis.

Unfortunately, I’m not sure we’ll make it through.
Despite its smart, sexy, and enticingly knotty qualities, social theory is a fickle partner. At best, we together produce only somewhat incoherent jargon, such as this cloudy gem from a recent session at the keyboard: “The concept of solidarity operates today to cloak the market—and market-based policy—in a familiar, collectivizing discourse, even as French society is atomized and its citizens are increasingly individualized and responsibilized.” [Oof. I'm so sorry, dear reader.]

And at worst, social theory abuses me with page upon page of impossible, heart-shriveling nonsense, such as the following (courtesy of a misguided soul named Timothy W. Luke, not me): “Multitorialities are incipient polyarchical fields, contragovernmentalizing spaces giving free rein to the post-jurisdictive.” [Even sorrier, dear reader.]

As I said, I’m not sure we’ll make it, social theory and me. The highs are high, and the lows are excruciating. It’s enough to drive a girl to bake. Such times call for drastic measures, and pistachio-apricot oatmeal cookies.

I made these lovelies last week for the final meeting of my neoliberal governmentality seminar, and we washed them down with an enormous bottle of cheap red—a better combination than you’d think—while sitting around the conference table at three in the afternoon. Through my sleepy sugar-and-wine-haze, social theory actually started to look sexy again. I think it even winked at me.

We’re giving it another go. I’m a total pushover, at least until the thesis is done.

Pistachio-Apricot Oatmeal Cookies
From Gourmet

This recipe yields a cookie that’s thinner, chewier, and more crisp than I’d ordinarily choose, but it’s absolutely delicious. The high ratio of brown sugar to white results in a deep caramelly flavor, which goes wonderfully with the pistachios and dried apricots.

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup packed light brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ tsp pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
¾ cup all-purpose flour
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1 ½ cups old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick-cooking)
1/3 cup dried apricots (2 oz), cut into ¼-inch dice
1/3 cup shelled unsalted pistachios (not dyed red), coarsely chopped

Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven, and preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray two baking sheets with cooking spray, or line them with silicone baking mats, if you have them.

In a large bowl, beat together butter and sugars with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add vanilla, and beat to incorporate. Add egg, beating to combine well. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon, and then add these dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mixing at low speed until just combined. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the oats, apricots, and pistachios.

Spoon rounded tablespoons of dough (I used a small ice-cream scoop) about two inches apart onto the baking sheets. Bake cookies, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until golden brown, about 15 to 18 minutes. Transfer cookies carefully with a spatula onto racks. The cookies will crisp as they cool.

Yield: About 18 cookies


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Any chance you could translate that as well? Its all Greek to me

8:26 PM, March 12, 2005  
Blogger Molly said...

Mike, dear, I know it's you. And no, I can't translate! It's Greek to me too! That's the point, silly.

8:38 PM, March 12, 2005  
Blogger Anne said...

Good luck on your thesis! It's hard work - but nice when it's finished :) I just made the cookies - what'd be a better day to start my Sunday? No, can't think of one. The one change is that I had to use almonds instead of pistachios, and my oven seems much more potent because they look very very done after just ten minutes. They smell delicious, and I'm sure they ARE, too :)

2:03 AM, March 13, 2005  
Blogger mangolisa said...

haha that's what make them so sexy - they are unpredictable aren't they? And trust me, at the end of your thesis, when you finally submitted (I am speaking from experience) the final thing is nothing like how you envisioned it initially and you'd be totally floored. It's like being with an exciting, challenging, cerebral, sexy lover -- and boy does he make you bleed and bake of course!
PS: I love your blog, Molly - I identify with most of the things you wrote and yes the dutchies make the best pancakes (babies) lol

2:42 AM, March 13, 2005  
Blogger Nic said...

Ah yes - the haze of sugar and wine can be compelling. Particularly since these cookies sound delightful. I think the bag of pistachios in my cupboard have found their calling!

7:01 AM, March 13, 2005  
Anonymous Julie said...


It's quite the kick to read about your thesis travels -- no apologies necessary (well at least not in my case, since I'm rather a sucker for Foucault myself). Just thought I'd sneak in and tell you how much I enjoy Orangette. I made Doron's/your delicious meatballs last night -- but I'll comment under that post. And these cookies look as if they belong on the "must-make" list!

7:27 AM, March 13, 2005  
Blogger Molly said...

Wow, Anne! You didn't waste any time! Your cookies look gorgeous, and I'll bet the almonds made for a very tasty variation. Mmmm.

Mangolisa, I will think of your words of wisdom when I return to the thesis later this afternoon. Ugh. More baking is already on the docket!

And Nic., thanks for stopping by and commenting! I've heard of your blog in various circles but had not yet checked it out...I look forward to spending more time there! Hope your pistachios are by now happily tucked away into cookies.

And Julie! Another sucker for Foucault! Glad to meet you.

1:23 PM, March 13, 2005  
Blogger Pusekatt said...

As I was reading the top half of your entry I was taken back to my university years and writing essays on philosophers and subjects like "Society and Culture"...shudder...I felt much happier reading the second half of your entry...so much more pleasant and benign :-)

2:30 PM, March 13, 2005  
Blogger Nic said...

Thanks Molly - the cookies are great. I'm posting a pic on my blog - after eating them, it's the next best thing to do with cookies!

1:31 PM, March 15, 2005  
Blogger Miss Tenacity said...

In tribute to the 30 inches of snow outside my door today, I've made another lovely batch of braised red cabbage.

Current seasoning variation (best I can remember):
1 handful dried cranberries (omit apples)
1 tsp bacon fat for initial saute of:
1/2 red onion + 2 minced Thai peppers
1 tsp honey
1 T mirin
1/4c stale reisling (in the fridge for cooking)

Sweet and hot, its my new favorite. Move over, apples and caraway!

Congrats on the Saucy gig - it definitely suites your style. *grin*


4:24 PM, March 15, 2005  
Blogger Molly said...

Nic., I can't wait to see the photo! So glad you liked the cookies.

And Andrea, that snow is outrageous! Should I mention that it's in the upper fifties here today? Cabbage season is almost over, although well, I *did* just buy some Brussels sprouts. Your variation on braised cabbage sounds wonderful...what a great way to mix things up! I'll have to try it before I turn to more spring-like things...

4:56 PM, March 15, 2005  
Blogger Daffy said...

Oh my, I can TOTALLY relate to you...
I was just writing on Baudrillard and his simulacra for my assessed essay! It took a quite (understatement of the century) a while to even vaguely understand what it was about...

9:43 AM, March 23, 2005  
Blogger Carol said...

I finally made these cookies last week, and they were sooo yummy. Thanks for the sharing the recipe!

8:51 AM, March 29, 2005  
Blogger Molly said...

Daffy, I hope you've sufficiently recovered from all that hard work. Perhaps you need a cookie to refuel?

And Carol, I'm so glad to hear it!

1:33 PM, March 29, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thanks for the great recipe! i didn't have dried apricots or pistachios on hand, so i substituted with dried cranberries and walnuts, and it was a huge hit!

for christmas, i'm thinking of doing a red and green variation... cranberries and pistachios!

12:28 AM, September 01, 2006  
Blogger Molly said...

You're very welcome, Anonymous! And your Christmas variation sounds beautiful. You know, hmm, I might have to steal that idea. Hope you don't mind...

9:36 AM, September 01, 2006  
Blogger joellybaby said...

Thanks Molly for taking the time to put your recipes in an index so we can go back to gems of recipes like this one.

It completed my perfect Saturday afternoon today.

11:55 AM, February 23, 2008  
Blogger selena said...

Very yummy! I subbed cranberries for the apricots, as they were what I had on hand. Next time I'd probably add just a little more salt. Thanks for the recipe.

7:49 PM, November 22, 2008  
Blogger Jane said...

I made these cookies today, but substituted hazelnut for the pistachios (salmonella FREAK-OUT!.. at the grocery store at least) I was a little nervous about the flavor combination with the apricots, but it turned out to be just lovely! Thank you so much for this delightful recipe... and for your hilariously accurate depiction of the throes of academia.

Little side note: I made your Winning Hearts and Minds Cake, and I am happy to report... it follows through with its promise. Thank you!

10:16 PM, May 13, 2009  
Anonymous Emily said...

You're cracking me up with the social theorist stuff. I am putting the finishing touches on my own Foucault/Baudrillard/Bourdieu-inspired thesis and have been naughtily reading through your archives as a means of procrastination these last few days. Thanks for the great recipes and stories.

1:06 PM, May 20, 2009  
Blogger HadleyEG said...

I made these, and they are flipping delicious. I don't know what you said there about the French, but I wonder if it has anything to do with one's ability to find oats in France?

12:58 AM, April 20, 2011  
Anonymous Katie said...

I mentioned last week that I discovered your blog last summer and that, with time on my hands at the moment, I was going to start reading from the first post. I just wanted to let you know how much I'm loving your writing and your RECIPES! This week I made the whole wheat bread from the ranch (amazing toasted with a little apricot jam!), the zucchini frittata (got a little sloppy when I tried to flip, so think I'll stick to putting it under the broiler for the last few minutes), the "french-style" scrambled eggs were the creamiest I've ever had, and currently my apartment smells AMAZING as I impatiently wait for these pistachio-apricot oatmeal cookies to crispen up! Thanks so much! I'm so thrilled that I still have YEARS of your posts left to read and I can't wait to choose my next recipe!

11:00 AM, May 02, 2012  

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