Billy Goats

When I was a wee little thing, Katherine and I shared a room (to my dismay). When we were younger, between the ages of 2 and 8, we played a lot together in our bedroom. One of the games we played was called Billy Goats. We named it after these lumpy looking, dried fruit and nut cookies that Dad used to make. He'd make them in enormous batches and put them in a huge Tupperware container. And then, if we were lucky, and if we hadn't eaten too many cookies already, he would play the game with us.

Like many siblings who shared a room, we had bunk beds. Dad would hang a pink and green flowered sheet from the top bunk so it completely covered the bed. He would crawl onto the top bunk and hide. Then he would tie cookies onto the end of a string hanging off of a makeshift bamboo fishing rod and dangle them off the end of the bed. Katherine and I would pull on the cookie, just like little fishies do, and dad would pretend there was a monster on the line. Sometimes he would pull the cookie back before we could get at it, and sometimes he would let us gloriously snatch the cookie while we collapsed in a fit of giggles and ate our prize.

Unfortunately, I do not have any pictures of us playing this delightful game. That would of been a real hoot. I'm sure it involved dressing up in costumes. We had a dress-up box, you know. Any chance we had, we were digging through the dress-up box, putting on over-sized high heels, dragging dresses, stained satin gloves, and poofy hats. There was usually some fighting over who would get to wear what, and I usually won. Poor little bit... Then I would put my hands on my hips and order her to do something or steal her cookie. She's not such an all-adoring push over now though. Oh no.

Tonight I made some of these cookies. Turns out they're called Hermits in the Joy of Cooking, not Billy Goats. In fact, I'm not sure Dad even made them from the Joy. I'm not even sure we called the game Billy Goats. Memory is so fluid! But that is how I remember things. The cookies were paler, smaller, and more rock-like looking than what you see in the picture. I didn't have brown sugar so I added some molasses. I had no dates so I used raisins. I had no ground cloves so I added cardamom in its place. And I added chocolate chips. Dad never put in chocolate chips. These were supposed to be healthy cookies. But what the heck, they're a put-in-whatever-you-want kind of cookie.

I just ate one. Mine are delicious. I'm going immediately consume another one. I bet they get better with age too. I'm also going to call Dad to see if he actually followed this recipe. I'm sure he did not.

Billy Goats

As adapted from memory

Makes 24 2-inch cookies
Oven: 350 F.

1/2 C butter
1 C packed brown sugar

Cream together until well blended. Hopefully you have beaters. I did not. Damn it.

1 egg
1 C milk/buttermilk/sour cream

Add to butter mixture and blend well.

1 1/3 flour
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp clove/cardamom
1/4 tsp bk. soda (used powder by accident)

Wisk together and add to wet ingredients. Before everything is combined, add below ingredients and stir until well-blended.

1/2 C chopped raisins, dates, figs, apricots, or citron
1/4 C nutmeats (used 1/2 C)
1/4 C coconut
1/4 C chocolate chips (if you're so inclined. but the chocolate will take over the other flavours.)

Use a spoon to measure out the amounts. Space well on a greased baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, turning the trays 3/4 of the way through if your oven is hotter at the back, or until just brown around the edges.

PS: if you want to play the game, you'll need to make your cookies much smaller. About half the size. Add more nuts and things to make the batter thicker. That should give them more of a pebble like quality which is more favourable to tying onto the ends of string.

Gone Fishing.... In my dreams!


  1. I had forgotten the sheet, and that dad used to pretend that there was a monster on the line. I do remember the game and the delight of getting a cookie.
    I love you bundles jude lady (even if you did steal my cookies when I was just a little bit...)

  2. The sheet was there for sure. Dad pretending to be a monster might have been a small stretch of the truth.

    oh well.

  3. No, now that you bring it up it I remember it. It's just the kind of thing he would have done.

  4. The recipe came from the Fanny Farmer Cookbook. Even though I love the Joy of Cooking, we used the Fanny Farmer for many of our cookie (and other treats) recipes. I love the memories from the years when the girls were small and I often baked cookies and made treats.



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