Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Just the other day, Bobby, Danny, and I were getting coffee at Whole Foods Market, and we spotted some packs of Cowboy Cookies and Cowgirl Cookies!

Seriously?  Cowboy Cookies and Cowgirl Cookies at Whole Foods?

I couldn't believe it, so I quickly scanned the list of ingredients on the back.

The Ingredients List

I know the font in the above picture is a bit small...but if you'll look closely, you'll see why I was immediately disappointed.  Palm Fruit Oil?  Who bakes with that?  And we certainly didn't use Vermont Well Water in our family recipe.  Nothing against the Cowboy Cookies at Whole Foods, but they're not the real deal...

...which leaves all of you at a dilemma, doesn't it?  How in the world will you get to experience the wonders of our family's favorite cookie recipe?  Now, it's not common practice to give out secret family recipes, but we've decided to make a concession.  Since we're all in this thing together, and many of you have become like family anyway, we figure the least we can do is share the recipe.  So here it is.

Cowboy Cookies
Recipe From:  Melanie (my mom’s friend whom she met when she moved to Colorado years ago…)
Makes:  5-6 dozen (which, of course, completely depends upon the size of cookies you're making!)

1 cup shortening or butter
1 cup white sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
½ tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
½ tsp baking power
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 cups regular oats (not quick oats)
1 cup (6oz) semi-sweet chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 325° F.
  2. In a large bowl, cream the shortening.
  3. Add white and brown sugar, and mix.
  4. Add eggs and vanilla.  Beat.
  5. In another bowl, mix flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda.  Stir into batter.
  6. Add oats and chocolate chips. Mix well.  (A strong wooden spoon works well at this point.)  
  7. Drop onto ungreased cookie sheet.  
  8. Bake for 10-12 minutes.

The perfect Cowboy Cookie.  Yum!

Cowboy Cookies...slightly more brown and crispy. They should never be darker than this.

These are the "flat" version of Cowboy Cookies. If  they're this flat, you may need to increase the flour or decrease the sugar.

Cowgirl Cookies
My mom—ever the creative cook and baker—decided to try a variation.  She left out the chocolate chips and added 1 tsp of cinnamon, plus 1 cup of raisins.  The result was amazing, and so we came up with a name.  As girls are made of “sugar and spice and everything nice,” we settled on Cowgirl Cookies.

Some things we’ve discovered…
  • We grew up in Durango, CO, where the official elevation is 6,512 feet.  We’ve discovered that the cookies bake with different results in different places.  This cookie recipe has been perfected for the high elevation of my mom’s kitchen.  When I’ve made these in the low-lying “mountains” of Pennsylvania, they’ve come out a bit more runny and crispy.  So if you’re in a lower elevation, you may need to make some modifications.  You might try using ¾ cup of both sugars, instead of a full cup.  
  • The definition of a perfect Cowboy Cookie depends upon the preference of the taster.  I love them when they’re a light brown color, sort of crispy, sort of chewy, and mostly soft.  If they’re a little doughy when they cool, that’s perfect!
  • The cookies are great as chipwiches!  Just take two similar-sized cookies and place a scoop of ice cream between them.  Freeze, and you’ll have a perfect snack for later.

Cookies for Billy
Before all of this happened, I was planning on making some Cowboy Cookies for Billy's birthday, and sending them to Hawaii, so they'd be there when he arrived.

But Billy hasn't been able to eat since September 19th or so.  And his stomach still isn't working.  It's a bit disheartening to hear the doctors talk about his dysfunctional stomach and the possible block in his GI tract.  He'd really like to be able to eat, so would you keep praying that he could eat again?

Family Meeting
We had a family meeting today with Billy's medical team.  We talked about how Billy is doing and how everything is going.  Here's the big picture.

  • Billy's cancer is still there.  It's "diffuse" gastric adenocarcinoma, meaning it's all over his stomach.  And it's also in the fluid around his stomach.  There are no established treatment regimens that can cure his cancer.  The medical team can do things to try to help Billy live with the cancer, but they can't cure it.
  • Billy's infection is probably still there.  It's under control (his white blood cell count is normal), but he's still on a major antibiotic.  If his body becomes resistant to the antibiotic at any point, Billy could quickly take a turn for the worse.  At the same time, the doctors didn't expect him to do as well as he's been doing.  So no one knows how all of this will go.
  • Billy is not a candidate for chemo, for several reasons:  (1) He probably still has an infection, and chemo is incredibly hard on the immune system--not a good combo.  (2) His liver function hasn't been stellar.  Chemo is also hard on the liver.  
  • Billy's body did not like the first round of chemo.  It responded very poorly (with a septic infection and a depleted immune system).  More chemo would be too harsh right now.  

Given all of this, there is a new option!  In some kinds of aggressive cancers (breast and stomach), some patients have an amplification of the HER2/neu gene (simply said, "her 2").  In these cases, an antibody called herceptin has been effective when used in conjunction with chemo.

Billy's cancer has the HER2/neu gene.  Normally the gene is present in a 1:1 ratio.  Billy's ratio is 2:1.  So...the oncology team here wants to try herceptin alone, to see if it would do anything.   

How Herceptin Works
In some gastric cancer cells, the tumors overproduce a receptor protein called HER2.  These proteins promote growth and survival of cancer cells.  In some tumors, there's an overabundance of these receptors.

Herceptin is an antibody that latches onto the receptors and sends signals to the immune system to promote destruction of the cells.

There's some risk involved, as there are other cells in the body that have HER2 receptors.  (The heart has many of these cells.)  So it would be good to pray against adverse side-effects.

Billy has decided to pursue treatment with herceptin.  So that's the next step.

How to Pray
  • Billy's stomach to start working.  There may be some kind of blockage.  His intestines are experiencing what the surgeons call ileus.  They're "paralyzed" or obstructed.  This needs to change if Billy is going to eat again.
  • God to completely heal the infection.  Enough said.
  • The herceptin therapy to work, and the cancer in Billy's stomach and abdomen to shrink and disappear.  
  • Perseverance in this "marathon."

Thanks for praying!  Thanks for all of your visits and messages.  They're helping to keep us going.


  1. A positive report AND pictures of cookies?? Man, I love this blog!

    Praying for you Billy...

  2. rdubbs...

    I get emails send to me when someone comments on the blog. All the message said was "rdubbs has left a comment," and then your comment followed. My curiosity got the best of me...who is this rdubbs character? So I clicked the link in my email...and it all made sense. :-)

    By the way, when you tasted the Cowboy Cookies I made, you got to sample the flat version. Sorry about that. The perfect ones (see above) are the best. I know you're not picky when it comes to cookies, but you really should have some "perfect" ones sometime.

  3. Although you don't know me I am praying from Bangor, PA every day for Billy, Michelle and the rest of the family. Keep the faith, pray hard - God does answer our prayers.


  4. In our weakness is always when God shows himself strong! Keep giving God back his Word, in other words repeat his promises about healing back to him, and watch him work!

  5. I am overjoyed that the Lord has led Will's doctors to a new treatment option!! From my outside perspective, this is a small miracle in and of itself. I will be praying. Harder than ever that this work. God is good. All the time.


    p.s. I was walking through Target when I read this post originally and got waaaaayyyy too excited a couple of times. Firstly when I saw the cowboy cookie recipe and secondly when I backhanded Jason on the arm and exclaimed (rather loudly) that they had found a new treatment option!! I do that, btw. When I get excited, I tend to hit whoever is sitting next to me. It's a character flaw. Just thought you should know that. ;)

  6. The cookies look great :) here's sending (((hugs))) to billy and our sick and wounded vets. Mindy

  7. Michelle,
    Mon. Nov. 8th was my son ,Dustin's birthday thank you for the birthday wishes! It was an awesome day, Dustin,my grandaughter Makayla and myself, included got to talk to Will it was the best birthday present my son got!!! Will sounded so good and positive, we love him so much! We are continuing to pray for God to heal this kind generous man who has given so much of himself to others! Stay strong!

  8. Praying without ceasing, lifting Will to The One who knows all needs. Sending you light and love, Deborah

  9. Vermont well water? Wow. I love Whole Foods, but that is hilarious!


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