- Associated Press - Sunday, December 6, 2015

BROKEN ARROW, Okla. (AP) - It was 1972 when Broken Arrow High School pep club member Karen Williams stood in an empty football field wondering what was in store for her future. A tree still standing on campus was her pondering point.

“The field was clear, people were headed home, and I cried like a baby looking at that touchdown tree,” Williams said. “I was thinking about where my life is going to be. Where will I be 50 years from now.”

The Tulsa World (http://bit.ly/1Ov2ktq ) reports that it’s not been quite half a century yet. But she’s happily known as the “cookie lady.”

For nearly 20 years, Williams has been showing her hometown pride by making hundreds of homemade chocolate-chip cookies for the game crew, coaches and media in the press room. These aren’t the normal cookies made from a company recipe on the back of a bag. The 250 cookies are usually gone by the first-quarter, and most certainly by halftime.

“I absolutely love people, and I love to put a smile on people’s faces,” Williams said. “What better way to make people smile than a good ol’ chocolate chip? I love my Broken Arrow.”

These chocolate chip-filled labors of love gained attention as more media than usual have been packing the press box. As Broken Arrow won games, the cookie lady made more treats.

This year, the team will be facing Jenks in the 6A championship game at the University of Tulsa’s H.A. Chapman Stadium.

Through the season, several sportswriters have gone to social media raving about the cookies. And these are writers used to catering at big-time Division I college football games. They can be considered cookie aficionados.

“I make it with love,” Williams said. “I enjoy it, and I think people enjoy it. It’s my alma mater and my spirit thing for Broken Arrow and the guys in the press box.”

Williams moved to Broken Arrow in 1964 while in elementary school. She graduated with a little more than 300 people in her class, compared to today’s 1,000-plus.

Williams earned two degrees from Oklahoma State University and returned to Broken Arrow for a 26-year career teaching kindergarten. She retired last year.

Making game cookies started when Bill Ralston, former announcer of the games and friend from church, mentioned how he would love to have a batch while at the game. So she made it happen for homecoming.

For a while, she just made her cookies for homecoming. Then Larry Clark, current game announcer and friend, sweet-talked her into bringing some up for the rest of the home games.

“Oh, I’m such a pushover,” she jokes. “For me, I’ve had a wonderful life, and I love this. It’s that part of tradition and home that is important to me. And it’s like I have a bunch of overgrown, athletic kindergartners who want my cookies.”

She doesn’t have a defined cookie recipe. It’s more of a set of guidelines.

“My mom was a wonderful cook and said she cooked ‘by guess and by gosh,’?” Williams said. “So I adjust the recipe.”

A few tips: Use real butter because “all things are better with butter.” Use two full “sloppy” cups of real milk chocolate chips. That “sloppy” description was used for her version of a tablespoon of vanilla.

That came from her son, now 32, who invented the measure as a young boy, pouring the vanilla bottle over the sides of a big spoon. This is pretty much how secret recipes are invented.

For her real trick, she hand stirs everything. No electric mixers. It’s just Williams and a wooden spoon.

After beating together the butter, eggs, sugars and vanilla, she then slowly adds in a flour concoction about ΒΌ cup at a time. She says this will make the perfect blend for coating the chocolate.

When baking, she doesn’t leave the cookies in until fully done. She lets the edges brown, then lets them rest on the pan to keep cooking outside the oven.

“When you bite into my cookie, they don’t crunch,” she says. “I just do a few different technique things in the way I prepare them.”

She has a routine down to make about six batches, each batch yielding about four dozen cookies. With no interruptions, the routine takes about three hours. Her husband of 38 years sits at the table with a glass of milk acting as quality control.

Even when she was teaching, Williams kept up her cookie tradition. She would sometimes be up at 2 a.m. baking before having to get up and teach kindergarten the same morning.

“There were times I would think, ‘Ugh, cookie night,’ But, there is a lot of therapy in that stirring,” she said. “You would not believe the problems I have solved in my brain while I’m stirring. I think about life - maybe lesson plans or what to make for Thanksgiving.

“It’s a therapeutic thing to just bake. I’m a hopeless nostalgic. Sometimes, I go back through the years of Broken Arrow High School and think about how all this transpired.”

Williams has to be one of Broken Arrow’s biggest cheerleaders, talking about the downtown renovations, museum and growth. She recalls when the one fire station was an all-volunteer crew of men, and the tornado siren was a guy driving down the street on a truck with a bullhorn yelling “tornado, tornado.”

“It’s not like it used to be, but I really take pride in what has been done,” she said. “They are trying to hang on to the history of Broken Arrow.”

Expect to see Williams next season going up to the press box with her roasting pan teeming with cookies. She has a secret method and disguise for delivering them to the workers on the field.

“When I get off that elevator, it’s like I’m a mother hen with the chicks following saying, ‘The cookie lady is here,’” she laughs. “I don’t know where that came from. But when the day comes I go to be with my maker, my epitaph should probably read, ‘Here lies the cookie lady.’?”

___

Information from: Tulsa World, http://www.tulsaworld.com

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