My mother always gave up sweets for Lent. This was a big deal for her since she adored sweets of all kinds.

She always had cookies, a cake or pie ready in case company dropped by. She would never allow a visitor to leave our house without being offered a sweet treat to accompany a cup of coffee or tea.

Ash Wednesday falling on Valentine’s Day as it did this year would have really been a blow, but I suspect she would have handled it like she usually did during Lent — give herself dispensation.


Mom reasoned that the best way to guarantee she’d meet her Lenten obligation was to allow a once-a-week exemption. That usually came after Sunday dinner when she traditionally offered family and guests dessert.

I thought about my mother’s Lenten penance and dispensation rule when my niece let me know she’d be visiting this weekend. What little sweet treat could I offer her that would remind her of her grandmother? I settled on No-Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies, an easy-to-make treat that's more candy than cookie. My brother and I often had them as an after-school snack, and my mother always made them for the grandchildren.

My mom’s recipe, which probably originated from a food manufacturer, differs somewhat from one I found in one of my mother’s cookbooks. The “sample” cookbook contains all of the free features offered in Fundcraft books prepared for nonprofit organizations and includes 235 recipes from various Fundcraft customers. I assume my mother acquired the sample book when she served on her church’s cookbook committee.

I’ve modified the recipe, using a stick of butter like the cookbook’s version and more cocoa and vanilla extract like my mother’s version. While I used three cups of quick oats as the cookbook’s recipe calls for, I think I’ll return to using our family’s 2½ cups of old-fashioned oats.

Cheramie Sonnier is a food writer and columnist. Contact her at, and follow her on Twitter, @CheramieSonnier.