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on this day

Recipe: cranberry oatmeal cookies

Four times a year, the first of the month is a special day for me. Of those four times, only one of those days is one that I had chosen and the rest were out of my control. March 1 is our wedding anniversary because MIL had wised up to the fact that although we had announced our engagement (as evidenced by my engagement mountain bike) mostly to appease the moms, we neglected to plan for the actual wedding. It was at 5 am in the ILs’ living room right before we were headed for the airport that we pulled out a calendar and I selected the earliest first of the month that fell on a Saturday for our wedding date. The first, so that we wouldn’t forget our anniversary as it would always coincide with when rent was due.

November 1 is our smoochiversary or “Happy I’m Glad I Met You Day” or the day that I “robbed the cradle”. Jeremy is my junior and when I was “pursuing” him in the dorms, my friend Ernie leaned over and said, “Jen, if you hit on Jeremy any harder, you’re going to knock him clear out of the cradle.” This date means more to us than our wedding anniversary.

May 1 is the anniversary of my sister’s death and August 1, today, is her birthday. Kris would have turned 42 on this day.


When I was little, I used to tag along with my big sister everywhere she went. She hated it. We fought because I wanted to be with her and she wanted to not be with me. Mom and Dad made her let me tag along.

the dorkiness was evident at an early age

yeah no – she didn’t catch it, she’s just holding it up for a photo

Despite our 5-year age difference, we grew incredibly close when she entered high school. We sailed competitively together, we confided in one another, we were best friends. Best friends and sisters. I always looked up to Kris even though I was taller than her by age eleven. She was this petite (size 0, sheesh!), pretty, and well-dressed teenager and I was a sloppy, tomboyish, bulldozer younger sister. Yet, we looked to one another for support and guidance. The day she left for college I felt like my heart would break from the sadness.

another good day for sailing

But we just grew closer and we always seemed to know when the other was in need of some cheering up or a care package or a listening ear or advice. One look and we would send each other doubled over in laughter. We shared far too many inside jokes which annoyed the hell out of most of our boyfriends. And we fought too, because two headstrong, type A, alpha females are going to butt heads from time to time. It never lasted long and usually ended with loud guffaws and more inside jokes.

it was the 90s and i didn’t pick that tablecloth dress

Of all the people in my life I never, never imagined losing Kris. The thought never crossed my mind. I worried about Grandma, Mom, Dad, Jeremy, even Kaweah. But Kris was always there in my future. I even figured she would be by my side when I, an old crotchety Chinese lady who swore at everyone, swore my last profanity. Then one sunny Saturday afternoon four years ago, out of the blue – my dad called to tell me Kris was gone. That day and those that followed were the saddest of my life.

August 1 is bittersweet, but I try to focus on the sweet as much as possible. So I’m posting a cookie recipe as my sister was a consummate size 0 snacker. I have been slowly addressing the high altitude issues in some of my favorite cookie recipes that I used to churn out on a regular basis at sea level. I think my sister would have liked these. Happy Birthday, Kris.

dried cranberries


The dangerous part about this recipe is that I actually *like* cranberry oatmeal cookies. Almost all of what I bake is foisted on Jeremy, neighbors, friends… I might as well tape these cookies to my hips because I love me an oatmeal cookie, or two, or three.

dark brown and white sugars with butter

mix in the dry ingredients

This recipe is based on Susan G. Purdy’s Trout Dale Oatmeal-Raisin Cookies from Pie in the Sky. The only substitution was dried cranberries for raisins (because Jeremy fears raisins). What I find amazing about Purdy’s recipes is that she tests them at sea level, 3000 feet, 5000 feet, 7,000 feet, and 10,000 feet and gives instructions for each elevation. Contrary to what one might assume, the adjustments are not linear with elevation and they get especially wankerish between 7,000 and 10,000 feet. Wouldn’t you know, I live at 8,500 feet…

cookie dough soldiers

The end result was a chewy inner cookie with just enough of a crispy outside to call it perfection. Wait any longer than a day and it becomes a full-fledged soft and chewy cookie. I ate five in one day which is more cookie than I consume in a typical month. I gave the rest away to ensure that I could fit into my ski pants come the first snowfall (are you kidding me? it may be summer, but I think of skiing ALL year).

this is dangerous

Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies
[print recipe]
modified from Trout Dale Oatmeal-Raisin Cookies from Pie in the Sky by Susan G. Purdy

This recipe is for sea level, with elevation adjustments for 8,500 feet in parentheses.

1 1/2 cups flour (1 1/2 cups + 1 1/2 tbsps)
1/2 tsp baking soda (1/4 tsp)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 lb. unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar (3/4 cup + 1 tbsp)
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla (2 tsps)
3 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1 cup dried cranberries

Heat oven to 350°F. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a medium bowl. In a separate bowl, beat the butter until soft and creamy, then beat in both sugars, scraping the sides of the bowl when necessary until smooth. Beat in the eggs and vanilla and scrape down the bowl again. Slowly mix in the flour mixture, then the oats and cranberries. Drop the dough by heaping tablespoon onto cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake for 12 to 16 minutes (14 minutes at 8,500 feet) or until cookies are golden brown. Cool cookies on wire rack and store in airtight container.

54 nibbles at “on this day”

  1. Chuck says:

    Happy Birthday Kris! Thanks for sharing the stories and the lovely pictures, especially the wedding one… love it!

  2. Wandering Chopsticks says:

    Hi Jen,

    Just coming out of lurkdom to say, well, not quite sure what to say. My sister and I are close too and I can’t imagine what it’d be like if I lost her. The photos are so great. They showed such laughter and love. My sister and I both love cranberry oatmeal cookies too. I just adapt from the basic Nestle Tollhouse chocolate chip cookie recipe though.

    Anyway, I just wanted to say “Hi” since I’ve admired your strength and your photos.

    BTW, you have the same name as a childhood friend of mine. :)

  3. Mrs Ergul says:

    I can never imagine having to lose someone so dear to me. I’m quite paranoid by nature and at times, I will be thinking what will happen if I lose someone dear? What will life be if I no longer have my family? And I don’t dare to think further than that. I too have a sister who is 2 years younger than me. We are close and we share secrets and fights. When my mum has to step in when the fights were getting out of hands, we will then cover each other up…

    Photos are all one has left when all others are gone. You have nice ones. xxoo take care.

  4. Manisha says:

    Lovely remembrance for your sister, Jen. Hugs to you.

  5. Tim says:

    This is a beautiful entry.

  6. peabody says:

    Happy Birthday Kris. A warm remembrance of your sister.
    I too have a similar puffy sleeve dress that my SIL forced me to wear for their wedding. I looked like I belonged on the 80’s version of Little House on the Praire.
    At least you have found a book that will address high altitude cooking. I will admit being darn close to sea level I luck out in many a baking way.

  7. Clumbsy Cookie says:

    Such nice memories and beautiful post to remember your sister. Happy birthday to her, and I’m pretty sure she would love those cookies.

  8. Rosa says:

    A beautiful post full of wonderful memories! Happy Birhday Kris.

    Those cookies are gorgeous! Impossible to not like them!



  9. Kelly says:

    What a wonderful tribute to your sister.

  10. barbara says:

    Jen I think you both look gorgeous. Thinking of you today and every day. Hugs

  11. Susan/Wild Yeast says:

    Jen, my thoughts are with you.

  12. joanne at frutto della passione says:

    Thank you for sharing your memories. It was a beautiful, moving post.

  13. felecia says:

    thanks for sharing- you have so much love in your words.
    today is my brother’s birthday also, who I was very close to. Paul passed away all of the sudden when he was 17 I was 15. I always think what life would be like if he was still here.

  14. Sally says:

    Had to start the Friday with tears. THis was a very beautiful, touching, moving post

    such a horrible loss, but as always, you turn pain into something bigger, deeper, beautiful in a sad way, but beautiful regardless

  15. Lan says:

    Happy Birthday Kris! what a loving tribute to your sister. thank you for sharing.

  16. Patti says:

    This post spoke to me. My sister, my only sibling, is gone too. I celebrate her birthday, like you, usually by going to Spago and ordering the meatloaf she loved so much. She’s been gone 10 years and I still think about her every day . . . Thank you for sharing.

  17. Margie says:

    A beautiful tribute to your sister, Jen. I will bake these cookies to honor you, honouring her. Bless you. I’ll bet she is smiling down from the heavens and enbracing you with sweeet hugs over these words of kindness and thought.

    I have four sisters and a brother; to lose one of them would be devastating.

  18. Psychgrad says:

    Thank you for sharing. Happy birthday Kris. The cookies look delicious.

  19. Lezel Safi says:

    I know your feelings and emotions completely. I lost my only brother, 19 months younger, out of the blue Dec. 29, 2003 (he was 29) and a son Dec. 4, 2002 premature at 25 weeks. The shock of both was almost more than I could bear. But we still celebrate my brother’s birthday every year and it just sucks b/c my 7 year old daughter still misses him terribly and the 4 yr old and 2 yr old (named after him, Tye) don’t remember him at all, a tragedy b/c he was crazy about the 2 he was able to know……so sad. I’ll be thinking about you and your family today!

  20. emily says:

    I know it was 4 years ago, but I’m sorry for your loss.

    Your post really reminded me of my uncle, who died in a motorcycle incident just a few months ago. He was 14 months younger than my dad. Sometimes it seems like dad’s going strong; but other times it just kills him. And he’s said that he never thought of losing his younger brother, Paul. He’ll be on his death bed in 30-40 years, and if you show him a picture of his brother, he’d still start crying.

    My condolence’s to you, your parents, her kids, and her husband.

  21. KatieC says:

    Big hug to you. I’m so sorry.

    About the ski pants: they shrink during the summer months. Don’t know how or why, but somehow they always seem to shrink.

  22. Christina says:

    Thanks for sharing with us the memories of your sister. She sounds like a great person.

  23. magicfish says:

    This is just a lovely post! Jen – thank you for always sharing your love & your light with the rest of us……

  24. Patricia Scarpin says:

    Oh, dear, I’m so sorry to hear that. She would be so proud of her sister, I’m sure.
    My mom’s birthday is on March, 1, such a coincidence.

    These cookies look delicious and I love anything that involves dried cranberries (I’m afraid of raisins, too).

  25. Pam says:

    Another moving post… thanks for sharing. I love the idea of using craisins instead of raisins in the oatmeal cookies.

  26. Maja says:

    Those are some really great photos you put on, i smiled looking at each and every one of them as if they were telling my own stories. I have a younger sister (13 years younger) and we’re very close, too. I’m really sorry that you lost yours so early in life. But as always you’re right to celebrate life and i hope you’re still enjoying the cookies. I have only discovered cranberries this year (yes, i know, where have i been), and i’m just in love with them, they’re what i always expected from raisins, but never gotten out of them (too sweet for my taste, unless soaked in rhum overnight and then used in walnut-filled potica (

  27. manggy says:

    Oh my God!!! Look at the two of you as kids!!! That is sooo adorable! I especially love the winter pic– I bet your parents placed that on the cards. We’re focusing on the sweet today, so we clink virtua-glasses in her honor. And take a bite out of those delicious cookies. YES, cookies go with wine. Trust me on this (Love, Mr. Lightweight). Jeremy does know the entire process of how grapes are dried, right? Raisins are harmless and delicious! Lol. :P (I’m kidding– don’t wave that lychee in front of me.)

    * By the way, LOVELY tablecloth, heh heh :) with tan lines to boot!

  28. Andrea says:

    This is a lovely tribute to your sister. I also have a sister and can not imagine ever losing her.

  29. Sheryl says:

    What a wonderful post about you and Kris; the photos say it all. A big hug to you, Jen! And oh by the way, we make those same cookies but add mini chocolate chips because everything tastes better with a little chocolate! Love ya!

  30. Marilyn @ Simmer Till Done says:

    I’m sure it was difficult, but important for you to share your memories with us. I also lost my sister – best friends, always – and I know how much these special dates and tastes can mean. Thanks for sharing.

  31. Graeme says:

    You’re a hard-fought and well-deserving Winner, Jen.
    Champion of the world!

  32. Mollie says:

    Your sister sounds like a hell of a woman. Thanks for sharing her with us.

    It takes a special bond to wear an ivy covered tablecloth to a wedding for someone. :)

  33. Laura @ HungryAndFrozen says:

    What gorgeous photos – not just the cookies. Thanks for sharing, I admire your openness on this blog. By the way – ‘smoochiversary’ – hee!

  34. JSC says:

    Great photos and a great tribute for a loved one.

  35. Shoshanna says:

    Happy Birthday Kris! I love this recipe; will make it this weekend for my bridesmaids (aka slaves) who are here for their last and final dress fitting. I would have to say that the dress I chose looks great; then again, I’m sure you will get a different answer if you asked my bridesmaids…haha.

    Thank you for sharing! (HUGS)

  36. Holly says:

    Just a beautiful post. Happy Birthday Kris. Thank you for reminding us all to cherish everyone we love, EVERY day.

  37. Lisa says:

    You are a wonderful writer. I can feel the love for your sister seeping out of my computer screen and it made me want to call my own sister, (who I’ve been lazy about keeping in touch with lately). Thank you for sharing Kris’s birthday with us…and of course those delicious looking cookies!

  38. caroline says:

    Thanks for sharing both the stories and the recipe. What a great tribute to your sister. I’m so sorry for your loss.

  39. Tony says:

    What a beautiful tribute to your sister. Happy Birthday, Kris.

  40. Isa says:

    I’ve always been afraid of death… not of my death, but from the death of other and actually, my fear is not that they won’t longer be with us, but how sad people who loved him/her would feel. That freaks me out… I don’t know what I’m going to do the moment when any of my grandparents pass away, when I see my parents crying, my brother crying, my aunts and uncles crying… In fact, I’ll share a little secret with you… I always think that if I ever get to have wishes come true (you know… the typicall question, what would you ask is you could have 3 wishes come true?) I would ask that my family and loved ones and me would all die at the same time in many many more years, still all very healthy and happy. That’s how freaking scared I’m of someone dying.
    Really, this is a lovely tribute. Cookie cheer up anyone… at least a little, right?

  41. Kevin says:

    Those cookies look good!

  42. Lynn says:

    What a bittersweet post. I loved the memories that you shared of your sister and it makes me sad for you that she’s gone. Virtual hugs and a tissue.

  43. jenyu says:

    Chuck – thanks, sweetie. I wish I could have photoshopped that dress (and those sleeves!)

    Wandering Chopsticks – that is so nice of you :) I really appreciate your comment and thanks so much for de-lurking. You know, there are a lot of Jen Yus in the world. I played v-ball with one, and I know about four more!

    Mrs. E – I can tell you that losing someone you love is hard and surreal, but if there is one thing I’ve learned from Kris’ passing (well, I’ve learned a lot of things) it is that you need to make sure your time spent with loved ones counts. Aside from photos, I have a lot of terrific memories of my sister :) xxoo

    Manisha – thank you, love.

    Tim – thanks.

    Peabody – Oh man! You have one too?! It’s like prom on steroids…

    Clumbsy Cookie – awww, thanks. I think she would have too.

    Rosa – thank you, my dear.

    Kelly – thank you.

    Barbara – you are very kind. That dress looks like wallpaper…

    Susan – *hugs*

    Joanne – thanks :)

    Felecia – I’m so sorry to hear about Paul. Curious that they share the same birthdays. I sometimes wonder what it would be like if Kris were still here. Well, I am grateful for the time I *did* have with her. My heart goes out to you.

    Sally – I’m sorry, dear! Didn’t mean to make you cry :( Wish I could send you a cookie to cheer you up! xxoo

    Lan – thank you.

    Patti – I don’t think we ever forget them, do you? All the best to you, hon. *hugs*

    Margie – that’s so very sweet of you.

    Psychgrad – thanks :)

    Lezel – Oh, I am very sorry to hear that. Such a loss. I have no doubt that you will make sure your children know who your brother was. It is important that we never forget them. xxoo

    Emily – thank you for your kind words. I’m sorry about your uncle and it’s touching to read about how much your father loved him. I wish you and your family the best.

    KatieC – *hugs back at ya*. I knew it! That’s what happens with ski pants… thanks for solving that mystery ;)

    Christina – she was awesome. Thanks!

    Magicfish – thank you for such a sweet comment.

    Patricia – we were very proud of one another :) Funny that you have a fear of raisins. I never hear of people with fears of cranberries! ha ha.

    Pam – the craisins rock :)

    Maja – I like raisins just fine, but cranberries are a completely different story! I think I like that they are tart and not too sweet. Glad that you discovered them :) Thanks.

    Mark – Ha, I don’t think my parents even did the photo/card thing back in the 70s :) You are such a hoot. I’m not waving lychees but Jeremy might if you wave raisins! ha ha ha. Yeah, those tan lines… I tried my best to erase them but no dice. That’s my punishment for playing outdoor doubles volleyball year-round in Southern California…

    Andrea – thanks, hon.

    Sheryl – thank you, my dear. Sending you a big hug too. Shhhh! Don’t say it too loud or else everyone will ask where the chocolate is ;)

    Marilyn – Oh sweetie, I’m sorry. I know how much that must hurt. Thank you for sharing that with me and I’m sending you a virtual hug.

    Graeme – silly! You are such a love, Graeme. xxoo

    Mollie – she was an absolute riot :) ha ha! So true!! a backless tablecloth at that!

    Laura – yeah, that was a phrase someone else coined. I find the names to be hilarious :)

    JSC – thanks!

    Shoshanna – you’re going to serve your bridesmaids cookies while they’re getting fitted for the dresses? :) ha ha ha. I’m glad I didn’t have to do the bridesmaid/maid of honor thing more than once! thanks xxoo

    Holly – absolutely :)

    Lisa – you’re too kind. Thanks and all the best.

    Caroline – thank you.

    Tony – thanks, love.

    Isa – yes, I think that would be easier. Except that life is intricate and there are many connections. No matter what, there will be someone left behind who will miss you and be sad when you are gone. It’s complex. Best to focus on living and making good memories while we can. Even though I miss her terribly, I have the best memories with my sister in my heart and that is some comfort :) xxoo

    Kevin – thank you!

    Lynn – you’re very sweet. They are good memories though – so I know my time with her was well-spent. xxoo.

  44. Maya says:

    Jen – what a moving post. I usually take the day off and stay in bed on my brother’s birthday.. the whole month is usually a write -off for me ( his birthday and death anniversary both fall in September). Love that wedding picture!!! Thank you for sharing.

  45. Cynthia says:

    Glorious sailing picture, there is nothing like a sister. I am so sorry yours is not here.

  46. Jenn says:

    Thank you for sharing such a heart warming and touching story about your sister. I recently lost my dad and while that is really difficult, I can’t and don’t want to, imagine losing a sibling. My heart goes out to you and your family. All the test. And those cookies look really good!! Do you ever put the oats in the blender first?

  47. White On Rice Couple says:

    I lost it until I saw you in the white stocking outfit, then the ivy leaf printed dress. Seeing your sense of fashion brought back my smiles…and envy. Your outfits were much nicer than mine back then, especially when I look back at my very rare dress photographs. I had an ugly pink K-mark special dressy thing-y that came with a stupid black bow tie sewn at the neck. Add a red and pink pair of knee high socks with a pair of tennis shoes and I was the 80’s version of Beauty and the Beast, all rolled into one.

    To be fair, I’ll show you the pic when I see ya soon. I’m not doing this for you, I’m doing it for Kris. Happy Belated Kris, we all love you.

  48. jenyu says:

    Maya – I’m sorry. That must be really rough on you emotionally. Sending hugs.

    Cynthia – it was good while she was here, and that’s more than a lot of folks can say – so I am very grateful :) xxoo

    Jenn – thanks so much. Um, I have food processed the oats before for another recipe, but I like them un-blendered in this recipe :)

    WoRC – envy? Hello?! Hon, you are talking to Miss Fashion Senseless… I didn’t dress myself until I got to elementary school. My grandma always put me in those cute little dresses before I went off to school. Then I’d come home with sand in my shoes, my pony tails all uneven and coming undone, and my nice little outfits disheveled and covered in dirt and food stains :) We would have made a pair of hilarious pals as kids, no? Thanks. I can’t wait to see you :)

  49. kathryn says:

    wow. that brought tears to my eyes. I know EXACTLY how you feel.
    Tomorrow, August 10, is 9 years since my little sister Courtney died.
    I loved the table cloth dress.

  50. jenyu says:

    Kathryn – thank you, my friend. You’re never far from my thoughts on these days. Hugs to you.

  51. Monika Cosson-Sheppard says:

    xoxo…I cried. eloquent remembrance.

  52. jenyu says:

    Monika – thank you.

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  54. Jennie says:

    Without fail every single recipe I try from your blog is amazing! You make me look like a great cook.
    Over the winter I’ve been trying to find my favorite oatmeal cookie. I’ve made tons of recipes found all over and yours just came out on top. no surprise really.
    While I was making them I kept thinking about you and your sister and how tight your bond is. how lucky you are to have had such a great connection.
    thank you once again for another great recipe. You make our household so delicious.

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