Oatmeal Cookies ~ THE HOBOKEN CHICKEN EMERGENCY, by Daniel Pinkwater

“I’m bored.”

“Well, then do something.”


It was a good question. No Coney Island, no flea market, no farmers market, no Cafe Pedlar (our favorite Cobble Hill coffee shop), no Carroll Park, the same old two museums we’d done a million times, the same old apple-picking.

“Read a book.”

What book?”

Stella scowled when I handed her The Hoboken Chicken Emergency. But I found her reading in her room an hour later.

“This book is actually pretty good,” she admitted.

The Hoboken Chicken Emergency, published in 1977, takes place in Hoboken, New Jersey over Thanksgiving weekend. Hoboken, a short PATH ride from Manhattan, known to many as the birthplace of both baseball and Frank Sinatra, is known to me as home to this book and Maxwell’s, an excellent music club that closed, regrettably, in 2018.

Young Arthur Bobowicz is sent to Murphy’s Meat Market on Thanksgiving Eve to pick up the turkey reserved by Poppa Bobowicz—but the reservation has been lost in the shuffle, and there is not a turkey (or chicken, or duck) to be had—not at Murphy’s Meat Market, not at the grocery store, not at the Indian spice store, not at the fish market, not anywhere. Not anywhere, that is, until Arthur spots a mysterious card in the window of an apartment building advertising “Professor Mazzocchi: Inventor of the Chicken System.” Arthur rings the bell—why not?—and after some negotiation heads home with a large—266 pounds, to be exact—live chicken named Henrietta.

The Bobowiczes, who all secretly hate turkey, have meatloaf for Thanksgiving dinner (there is no vegetarian agenda to the story) and allow Arthur to keep Henrietta as a pet. Arthur takes Henrietta to the playground and teaches her how to use the swings and the slide. He feeds her oatmeal cookies, her favorite food. But when Henrietta starts to cause trouble at home (she leans on the banister and breaks it, she eats the neighbor’s goldfish), Poppa Bobowicz insists Arthur take Henrietta back where she came from. Arthur reluctantly returns her to Professor Mazzocchi. In hopes of reuniting with Arthur, Henrietta escapes—and the chaos that ensues will charm even the grumpiest of readers.

Oatmeal Cookies

For obvious reasons, I use flax “eggs” in these cookies. I’m suspicious of flax and was only driven to try flax eggs in a recipe when I found myself out of the chicken kind one day, but I discovered that while flax eggs scrambled are probably not very good, for baking they are very, very good. These cookies include chicken-friendly treats such as pumpkin seeds and nuts. Chocolate is toxic for chickens, but if you are not sharing the cookies with a chicken or a dog, throw in a handful of bitter or semi-sweet chocolate chips.

12 tablespoons unsalted butter, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1 cup light brown sugar, 1 flax egg (mix 3 tablespoons ground flax with 1 tablespoon warm water, let stand for a few minutes before using), 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, 1/3 cup oat flour, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 3 cups oats, 1/3 cup crushed walnuts, 1/3 cup unsweetened coconut, 1/3 cup green pumpkin seeds.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Cream butter and both sugars until as fluffy as an agitated chicken. Add flax egg and beat well. Add vanilla and combine. Sift or mix together flour, oat flour, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda. Add to the wet ingredients and combine. Add oats, walnuts, coconut, and pumpkin seeds. Combine until just distributed. Drop batter onto cookie sheets and bake for 8-10 minutes.