27 February 2023

In Which Some Oatmeal Cookies Lead To A Rabbit Hole

Every few weeks, I bake a batch of cookies and mail them off to the college kid. This morning, I was looking for a gingersnap/molasses cookie recipe in my mother's black book, but I got sidetracked by Lady Harlech's oatmeal cookies.

So I made them, with shortening even. After the dough was made, I realized that there is no salt in the recipe. So instead of squishing the cookies with a sugar-dipped glass, I seasoned the sugar with a bit of salt and cinnamon. The cookies were definitely too sweet, and sort of boring. If I try them again, I will use salted butter, and a half teaspoon of salt, and only a half a cup of white sugar. And then they won't be Lady Harlech's, they'll be mine.

Cookies aside though, I started wondering about Lady Harlech. The recipe was photocopied from somewhere, but I don't know where. Google turned up NOTHING tying Lady Harlech to any oatmeal cookies.

I detoured into ChatGPT for my own amusement, and it produced a semi-plausible bio:

Except that said bio doesn't actually track with other information I found about her - like: 

  •  She married Lord Harlech in 1969. 
  • I don't know where the Guiness bit came from, because her maiden name was Pamela Colin. 
  • I think she was born in 1934.
  • While she worked for Vogue, it was as a food editor. 
  • And I think she's not dead.

The Wikipedia entry on her husband seems a whole lot more sound.

Eventually, I figured out that she published two cookbooks as Pamela Harlech. Both cookbooks (Feast Without Fuss and Practical Guide to Cooking, Entertaining, and Household Management) had been scanned into the Internet Archive, and while one contains an oatmeal cooky recipe, it's not this one.