Shhhhhh!!!!

Can you keep a secret? I can't, because I'm about to share an old family recipe that was so well-kept, it's only name is "Secret Recipe."

Since the name doesn't give it away, I'll also tell you it's a dessert.

My mother made this for years. I don't know where it came from or who it came from, but since she made it from as far back as I can remember, and I'm over 25 years old (ahem) I figure the statute of limitations has run out on this particular secret.

As it baked, my husband and I could hardly wait for it to come out of the oven, let alone cool so we could taste it.

I haven't had it in many years, but when I took a bite, it transported me back to the old farm where we used to live in South Brunswick, N.J., which makes me think it came from someone there.

The ingredients are simple and I had everything on hand to make it, yet, once combined, the flavors become so complex, it reminds me of an apple cake, both in taste and consistency.

I find myself looking at it again, after I've taken a bite, to make sure there aren't any bits of apples or raisins that someone dropped into the batter when I wasn't looking (there aren't).

Very odd, but very delicious.

Secret Recipe

Base:

1and one-half cup boiling water

1 and one-quarter cup oatmeal

1 cup vegetable oil

1 cup white sugar

1 cup brown sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1and one-half cup flour

1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking soda

One-half teaspoon baking powder

One-quarter teaspoon salt

Topping:

6 ounces chocolate chip

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup walnuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Pour the boiling water over the oatmeal and let stand for 15 minutes. Then, pour oil over oatmeal and beat at low speed with a mixer. (The recipe in my mother's handwriting says to use an egg beater; that's how old this recipe is.)

Add white and brown sugar, eggs and vanilla; beat well.

In a small bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

Add to the first mixture and mix well. Pour into a greased 9-inch by 13-inch baking pan.

Combine chocolate chips, brown sugar and walnuts; sprinkle over batter in baking pan.

Bake in a preheated oven for 45-60 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Note: If you stick the toothpick through a melted chocolate chip, it will be difficult to determine if the batter is completely baked through, so you may want to try it again somewhere else to make sure it's done.

Allow to cool, then cut like brownies to serve.

For more recipes go to http://www.tnonline.com/lifestyle/comfort-and-joy.