I’ve been clearing out our basement this past week, and in the process have uncovered the fact that I’m, shall we delicately call, a “collector”: Little figurines from my childhood, an old trunk from my grandma, books, books and more books (as our nephew once groaned to my husband when he helped us move the 10th box of cookbooks: “duuude, hasn’t she heard of Google?”).
What I’m especially pleased to have come across is binders of inherited recipes I forgot that I had: newspaper clippings, church pamphlets, typed sheets of paper with my grandmother's name signed at the bottom, for things like fruit loaf and Empire cookies. The recipes have names like “Mary Backman’s Cheese Balls” and “Grandma M’s Shortbread”, “2nd Prize: Mrs. G. Pyle, 19, Lemon Layered Dessert”. Some are dutifully typed with their names signed at the bottom, others are carefully written on lined paper.
Now, I’m quite sure that memory renders my common-sense and general kitchen acumen rather useless. Why wouldn’t a salad comprised of cauliflower, romaine, red onions and tonnes and tonnes of mayonnaise mixed with just as much bacon and fake parmesan be simply delicious? Or a lemon loaf, which largely consists of lemon cake mix and instant pudding, be divine? While I can’t in good conscience make these tasty morsels for clients (why yes, let me just check the box to be sure it’s gluten free), I can share a recipe with full disclosure that it might not taste like perfection exactly, but it’s what a freckle faced 10 year old looked forward to in the warmth of her grandmother’s home.
Grandma T’s Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 cup butter or margarine
½ c. white sugar
1 c. brown sugar – firmly packed
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs well beaten (use mix master)
2 cups plus 2 level tablespoons of flour, sifted
1 tsp of baking soda
¾ tsp salt
8 oz chocolate chips
Cream together the butter and sugars. Add the vanilla and beat until light and fluffy.
Fold in beaten eggs and beat well
Sift the flour with the baking soda and salt.
Add to the first mixture and mix thoroughly.
Mix in the chocolate chips.
Drop by a small teaspoon-full on an ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake at 375F for about 10-12 minutes.
Makes about 6 dozen crisp cookies.
ps: Just a day after posting this, I was flipping through "Bouchon Bakery" by Thomas Keller. I love what he wrote:
Food is a powerful connecter of who we are to who we were, to our past, to our memories, and, for me, to a different and simpler time. Even the smallest thing - a cookie - can help us understand what we feel now while reminding us of what we once felt and who we've become versus who we were then.