Thursday, December 14, 2017

Throwback Thursday - - In Grandma's Kitchen


Some of my earliest - and best - memories are of the times spent in my grandma's kitchen. There was always laughter, warmth, lessons in baking, hugs, and gently offered lessons in life. Many years later, as an adult, I happily opened my own kitchen to my young niece and, together, over the years, we created our own special memories. That niece is now a mother who is sharing her love of baking with her little ones. As they live overseas, I don't get to see her as often as I'd like but for the past several weeks she and her two young children have been visiting her parents in Florida and I traveled down to spend time with them. As I had done with his mom when she was about his age, we set aside a day for my 4-year-old grandnephew and I to have our first Christmas candy making day together. There was laughter, warmth, hugs, lessons in candy making, and gently offered lessons in life...just like those wonderful days in my grandma's kitchen more than 50 years ago. The tradition continues...four generations...love, lessons, and the joys of Christmas.  ~PJ




Some of my earliest memories are of being perched on a stool at my grandma's kitchen counter, hanging onto her every word as she taught me how to wield a rolling pin, create flaky melt-in-your-mouth biscuits or golden brown, perfectly baked cookies. Much of what I know about baking was learned at my grandma's side but baking wasn't the only thing I learned in her kitchen. Sprinkled so lightly among the various techniques that I was hardly aware of them, were gentle lessons that have guided my life over the past 50+ years. From that wise and kind woman I learned to find joy in creating something with my own hands and mind, to take pride in my accomplishments but not be boastful about them, to share willingly and joyfully with others, to have compassion for those lacking the skills or resources with which I was blessed, to treat others with the same kindness and respect that I wish to receive from them and to honor those who have gone before me by sharing my love, my time, my knowledge and a few gentle life lessons with the young people in my life.

Grandma has been with the angels for many years now but, to this day, I can still feel her gentle hand on my shoulder, guiding me in the right direction. A few years ago I was visiting with some cousins that I hadn't seen in almost 30 years. One of them said to me, "You're so much like Grandma it's almost like having her with us again." I can think of no greater compliment.


MY FAVORITE SUGAR COOKIES
1 cup solid Crisco shortening
2 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. lemon extract
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
dash of salt
Cream shortening. Add 1-1/2 cups sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Add eggs and flavorings; beat well. Combine flour, baking powder and salt. Stir into creamed mixture. Drop by heaping teaspoonfuls 2-3 inches apart onto greased cookie sheets. Dip a fork into flour then lightly press on each cookie to flatten. Sprinkle cookie with remaining sugar. Bake at 375° F. for 9 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove to wire racks to cool.
YIELD: 9 dozen

** For a festive appearance, sprinkle cookies with colored sugar before baking or forego the sugar and frost or glaze the cookies after they have baked and cooled.  .


CHOCOLATE DIPPED LOG COOKIES
1 cup butter
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons brandy
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups chopped pecans
Powdered sugar
Melted milk chocolate

Cream butter.  Gradually add sugar, beating until light and fluffy.
Add brandy, vanilla and salt; mix well.
Add flour, stirring until blended.  Stir in pecans.

Shape dough into 1-1/2 x 1/2 inch logs.  Place two inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets.
Bake at 325° F. for 15 to 20 minutes.  Cookies should not brown.

While warm, roll cookies lightly in (or dust with) powdered sugar. Place on wire racks to cool.  When completely cool, dip one end of cookie in melted chocolate.  Let stand on wax paper until set.

Makes 4 dozen cookies.


TIGER'S BUTTER

1 cup melted milk chocolate
1 cup melted white chocolate
1 cup smooth peanut butter

Melt milk chocolate and white chocolate in separate double boilers over 120° F. water. Stir peanut butter into melted white chocolate until blended and smooth. Gently swirl melted milk chocolate into the white chocolate/peanut butter mixture.

Ways to serve: 
Pour into a wax-paper lined baking dish. Chill then cut into squares.

Pour into candy molds. Chill then pop out onto wax-paper.

Spread onto wax-paper lined baking sheets. Chill then break into "bark" pieces.

*Your family will fight for the right to lick this bowl!




Are you creating special holiday treats in your kitchen this Christmas?  Did you gain your love of cooking/baking from someone special? Are you passing along that knowledge by being a mentor to someone else?  Share your memories with me for a chance to win! Earn a bonus chance by sharing a recipe.

One randomly chosen person leaving a comment will receive a package of books from my conference stash. (U.S. only) 

One randomly chosen international comment will receive a book of your choice from bookdepository.com. Maximum value of $10 U.S. 

Winners will be chosen from all comments posted by 11:00PM (ET), December 15, 2017. 


40 comments:

  1. love making goodies at christmas. We used to do it more when I was younger, but I do a little now. The new recipe I do is an Apricot Pecan fruitcake.Ingredients
    2 1/2 (6 oz.) packages dried apricot halves
    2 c. pecans
    2/3 c. Pecan halves
    2 c. plus 1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
    1 1/4 c. sugar
    1 c. butter or margarine
    5 large eggs
    1/2 c. brandy
    1 tbsp. vanilla extract
    2 tsp. baking powder
    1 tsp. salt
    1/3 c. apricot preserves
    Directions
    Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease 9-inch tube pan.
    In medium bowl, toss apricots and 2 cups coarsely chopped pecans with 1 tablespoon flour; set aside.
    In large bowl, with mixer at low speed, beat sugar and margarine or butter until blended. Increase speed to high; beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes, constantly scraping bowl with rubber spatula.
    With mixer at low speed, add eggs, brandy, vanilla extract, baking powder, salt, and 2 cups flour; beat until well blended. Stir in apricot mixture.
    Spoon batter into pan. Arrange pecan halves on top of batter in 2 concentric circles. Bake cake 1 hour and 10 minutes to 1 hour 20 minutes until wooden skewer or toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
    Cool cake in pan on wire rack 10 minutes. With knife, loosen cake from pan; remove cake. Cool completely on wire rack.
    When cold, brush cake with melted apricot preserves. Or, wrap and refrigerate it for up to 1 week, then brush with preserves before serving. when doing mine I poke holes in cake with end of wooden spoon. i melt my preserves and add more apricot brandy to it and slather it all over

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    Replies
    1. I'm not a fruitcake fan but this one sounds interesting, especially with the brandy. I might give it a try. Thanks, regencygirl! :)

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  2. I have a very easy candy recipe I make every holiday season. It is delicious and people love it.
    1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips or milk chocolate morsels
    1 bag butterscotch morsels
    I can Spanish peanuts
    (Optional: pretzel sticks- I like to add these, but they weren't in the original recipe.)

    Melt the morsels in the microwave. Stir in Spanish peanuts and pretzels. Put spoonfuls on a cookie sheet. Refrigerate until firm. I store in a tin with wax paper between layers to help keep them separate. If you store in the refrigerator you won't have a problem with melting. Yum!

    Merry Christmas!

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  3. We did a lot of baking with both my grandmother and mother when I was growing up. My daughter has surpassed me with her love of baking (and my son enjoys cooking too). The past few years I've had less time to bake but I have to make time to make my raspberry fudge. I start with the basic fudge recipe on the marshmallow creme container then add about half a cup of marshmallows, a dash extra vanilla, and raspberry extract. That's it!

    Thanks for your recipes PJ! I am definitely going to be copying a lot of the recipes today!

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    Replies
    1. Definitely going into my recipe book. I have a friend who would love this! Thanks, Glenda!

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  4. I learned my love of baking from my grandmother whose culinary masterpieces were known by her entire family. She was extremely talented and created wonderful treats. My favorite one was her delectable apple cake which was moist, enticing and requested for every celebration. Since today is my birthday and I am 70 years old I will be recreating this cake for my son's birthday which is today as well. I enjoy giving homemade treats made from the heart and I know they are greatly appreciated. I now enjoy baking with my 4 grandchildren who help out and learn from me but the best part is sharing this precious time together which is meaningful and unforgettable.

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    1. Happy Birthday to you and your son! What fun to share that special day.

      My paternal grandmother made a delicious apple cake of which I have very fond memories. Sadly, after her death, most of her recipes were thrown out before I could claim them. Would you be willing to share your recipe or is it a family secret?

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  5. Love to share. Enjoy. Have a wonderful Christmas. Last night we lit the Chanukah candles with my son and 2 granddaughters. Here is the apple cake recipe.
    2 Eggs
    1 C. sugar
    1 tsp vanilla
    1/2c. oil
    1 1/2 c. flour
    2 tsp. baking powder
    6-8 apples pared and thinly sliced
    1/2 c. brown sugar
    2 tsp. cinnamon

    beat eggs, sugar and vanilla until fluffy. Beat in oil. Add liquid alternately with dry ingredients and beat until smooth. Spoon half of batter into a lightly greased 9" square baking pan. Spread evenly. Add apples which have been sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon. Cover with remaining batter. Bake at 325 for 50-60 minutes.

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  6. We make Italian cookies that have white icing and sprinkles on them. Not sure what they are called.

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    Replies
    1. I love anything with Italian in the title. ;-)

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  7. Such a sweet story and truly wonderful memories for you! It is lovely that you are sharing your love of baking with the younger generation. Cooking together just adds warmth to the holiday.

    My baking is simple. I just do breads and cakes. Some are for gifts and some are for Christmas dinner.

    Thanks for sharing the recipes. Merry Christmas, PJ!

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  8. I have been baking christmas cookies with the ladies in my family for as long as I can remember. We dedicate an entire weekend to this and have so much fun. My grandma taught us all how to bake and we still used her recipes that are handwritten and found on yellowed and fringed scraps of paper. Last weekend was our annual event, Friday - Sunday and we had so much fun. It was my mom, my aunt and her partner, another aunt, my cousin, my sister-in-law, my 2 nieces, my nephew, my son and daughter, my cousin's girlfriend and a family friend and her daughter. It was such a blast! The only down side is now we HAVE to eat the cookies :-) My favorite recipe are for Spritz cookies; they remind me of my grandma so much. With each bite I take I picture myself sitting at her kitchen table and it warms my soul.

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  9. Love this column! I'll be decorating sugar cookies with two of my grandchildren on Saturday, and I can't wait. Your recipes bring back memories, too. My father loved the log cookies you mentioned. Maybe I'll bake some this year in his honor. I know I'll be making plenty of the following recipe. Growing up, this was our family favorite cookie--the Congo Bar, basically, a chocolate chip bar cookie. It's wonderful! The recipe is below.

    Congo Bars
    2-3/4 c. flour
    2-1/2 tsp. baking powder
    1/2 tsp. salt
    2/3 c. butter or margarine, melted
    1 lb. brown sugar (2-1/2 c.)
    3 eggs
    1 tsp. vanilla
    1 c. chopped walnuts
    6 ozs. semisweet chocolate chips

    Mix flour, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, combine melted butter and brown sugar. Allow to cool slightly. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each. Add dry ingredients, nuts, chocolate chips and vanilla. Pour into greased and floured pan (10-1/2 x 15-1/2 x ¾ inches.) Bake at 350F for 25 minutes. Cool. Cut into 60 bars.

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  10. I did not have the luxury of practicing cooking with anyone. But, I did learn on my own. My family all survived so I figure it must have been OK.

    Day before yesterday, I delivered 7 dozen cookies to neighbors. I really did not need to keep any of them for myself. But, the word regret comes to mind...

    I am going to print all the lovely recipes here. Everything sounds wonderful. Y'all could be giving me new ideas for next Christmas. So, I thank each of you.

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  11. I'll be making cookies, fudge, and magic bars.

    denise

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  12. My Nanny died when I was 7 so, I only have a vague memory of her. My other Nanny lived too far away. I will be making sausage rolls and some fudge. I already have my Christmas cake

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  13. I enjoyed your beautiful and heartfelt post which resonates with me. These are the important memories which we hold close to our hearts and baking together is one of the best ever. These traditions and learning to bake in a warm kitchen with a Bubbeh is wonderful. When my Bobbeh lived with us she used to allow us to help her make wonderful treats such as rugelach, hamentaschen and what I loved most of all were her roly poly pastries which were primo. I watched and learned from her and she knew from instinct.

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  14. My recipe to share.

    Praline Pecans

    2 cups. Pecans
    1/2 cup light brown sugar
    4 TBS heavy cream. (Can use half-n-half

    Mix cream an sugar add pecans. Bake 20 minutes at 350*.
    Stir half way 10 minutes. Stir again after 20 minutes. Let cool

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  15. Thanks for sharing cookie recipes that don't involve a rolling pin! I am hopeless with those! My ex-step-mother is a terrific cook. When I was in college & living off campus, I wanted to make a special meal for a boy. I called her to find out how to make a roast beef, what seasonings to use & how to cook it. Also, twice baked potatoes, which were excellent. I don't think I have made them since, and that was 40 years ago! She also taught me how to make sauce, what seasonings to use, etc.

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  16. I love to make pumpkin rolls. Nothing special but so good. I use the Libby's recipe.

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  17. Every year I try to make a variety of treats to share. I started my own traditions with my kids, now grown, because no one did this with me. I hope to make fudge, cookies, bark, and some bars. That is if I have some help. It's been difficult to bake with one hand (healing of breaks is slow)

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  18. Every year I make sugar cookies with my granddaughter. I have 2 cooky tins with indentations of various Christmas things, Chris. tree, gingerbread man, etc.
    I also make various cake to give to friends, the mailman, post office, etc.
    Here is one:
    CHOCOLATE CHIP EGGNOG CUPCAKES:
    2 C FLOUR
    3/4 C CHOC CHIPS, I USE THE MINIS
    2 TSP BAKING POWDER
    DASH NUTMEG, GROUND
    1/4 TSP SALT
    *1 CUP SUGAR, DIVIDED
    2 EGGS
    3/4 CUP EGGNOG, NOT LOWFAT
    1/2 CUP VEG OIL

    IN BOWL COMBINE DRY INGREDIENTS AND CHOC CHIPS
    IN LG BOWL WISK TOGETHER 3/4 C SUGAR. EGGS, EGGNOG AND OIL. STIR IN FLOUR MIXTURE TIL JUST COMBINED.
    *SPOON BATTER INTO PREPPED CUPCAKE PAN LINED WITH CUPCAKE PAPERS. SPRINKLE WITH REMAINING SUGAR IF YOU WISH. I DON'T, SO I ONLY NEED 3/4 C OF SUGAR.
    BAKE AT 375 20-25 MINS. LET COOK ON RACK FOR 5 MINS BEFORE REMOVING FROM LOAF PAN OR CUPCAKE TIN WITH LINED WITH CUPACKE PAPERS. I ALWAYS CHECK CAKES A LITLE BEFORE RECOMMENDED TIME TO SEE IT DONE.


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  19. What lovely wonderful memories of your grandma, thank you so much for sharing! I like to cook but I'm not much of a baker at all. Thanks for sharing your recipes, they all look so yummy. I think even I might be able to make the Tiger's Butter :)

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  20. I always cooked with my mother. We all had to help out in the kitchen, I am the oldest of 6. At Christmas she made a cake role that we all loved. Unfortunately, she died young and we had a vindictive stepmother who threw out mom's recipes. Even my aunt's didn't have the right version. We all loved it and can't make it. My grandmother (mom's mom) didn't teach me cooking, but we did work together sewing. She was an excellent seamstress and could whip something up in no time. She patiently sat by and gave suggestions and directions why I took a week to make something she could have made in a day. She deserved an award for her patience.
    I enjoyed cooking with my children. We have done lots of holiday recipes and tried recipes in all categories. My husband is a good cook and has also cooked with them. They are good cooks now and sharing their skills with their children. Our grandsons are busy with jobs and school now so I don't get much of an opportunity to do holiday baking with them. Our granddaughter will only be here Christmas Day and a day or two after. I am going to save a few things to do when she gets here. We have cooked and decorated together before when they lived closer and I want to do some gingerbread cookies with her and what ever else she wants to do.

    We do Chocolate Flips, also known as Bourbon Balls. They are a little easy and rather strong.

    1 package (6 oz.) semi-street chocolate bits
    3 tablespoons corn syrup
    1/2cup bourbon
    1/2 pound vanilla wafers, crushed
    1/2 cup powdered sugar
    1 cup chopped nuts (I use walnuts)

    Melt chocolate over hot water (double boiler). Add corn syrup and bourbon. Stir slowly to mix (this takes patience and time).
    In medium to large bowl, combine wafer crumbs, sugar, and nuts.
    Add chocolate mixture. (the recipe says to add crumb mixture to the chocolate mixture, but unless you use a large pan to
    melt the chocolate, there isn't any room.)
    Drop by small spoonfuls into powdered sugar and roll into balls.
    Let them stand in refrigerator for a couple of hours. Roll in powdered sugar again.

    Keep in an air-tight container. Best if kept in refrigerator. Let warm a little bit before serving.
    Great to pop in your mouth when things get hectic.

    librarypat

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  21. A Christmas treat which is a must for us as follows.

    PORT WINE TRIFLE
    Double vanilla sponge
    Port Wine Jelly
    Bananas
    Vanilla Custard
    Port Wine
    Make up the port wine jelly - half the water recommended - you want it to be very firm - once set cut into bite sized cubes
    You can bake the vanilla sponge or just buy one - cut into bite size cubes
    Again you can make the vanilla custard or just buy it
    Add the cake to a large serving bowl, liberally soak with port wine
    Add the jelly
    Add the bananas
    Smother the whole lot in custard
    Toss VERY gently
    Must be kept refrigerated
    (Some people get fussy and layer and/or add whipped cream).

    I think this is why most people need an afternoon nap on Christmas Day.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Mary! Do you make the Port Wine Jelly from scratch or are you able to buy a mix in Australia? I'm guessing what you call jelly is what we call Jello here in the U.S.?

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  22. My mom and grandmother weren't bakers of deserts but they sure could whop up an Italian feast for our huge gatherings. But my paternal grandmother and five Aunts would get together a few weeks before Christmas to make the Italian cookie Cucidati. Because the family is so very large they did this mixing and baking on and off for weeks. The rewards were so wonderful once you got your tin filled with Cucidati and took that first bite. I haven't really baked the last couple of years due to arthritis but my daughters & DIL do it all now.
    Carol L
    Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot com

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    1. I'm glad your daughters and DIL are carrying on the tradition, Carol. I had to look up Cucidati. That's one I'm not familiar with but...FIGS! I'm definitely adding the recipe to my collection!

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  23. I don't bake much but my mom, grandma and great aunt did. Sometimes I bake some cookies or an occasional cake with my daughter.
    We like banana bread and make that the most. It is my mom's recipe. Here it is below:

    MOM'S BANANA BREAD:
    1 3/4 C ALL PURPOSE FLOUR
    2/3 C SUGAR
    2 TSP BAKING POWDER
    1/2 TSP BAKIND SODA
    1/4 TSP SALT
    1 C MASHED RIPE BANANAS - 2-3 MEDIUM SIZED
    1/3 C SHORTENING - BUTTER OR MARGARINE - I USE UNSALTED BUTTER
    2 TBS MILK
    2 EGGS
    1/4 CUP CHOPPED NUTS - OPTIONAL

    OVEN 350 DEGREES

    IN LG BOWL COMBINE 1 CUP OF THE FLOUR, THE SUGAR, BAKING POWDER, BAKING SODA AND SALT.
    ADD MASHED BANANA, BUTTER, AND MILK.
    BEAT WITH ELECTRIC MIXER ON LOW SPEED, TIL BLENDED, THEN ON HIGH SPEED FOR 2 MINS.
    ADD EGGS AND REMAINING FLOUR. BEAT TIL BLENDED. STIR IN NUTS.
    POUR BATTER IN A GREASED 8/4/2 INCH LOAF PAN - MAKE SURE YOUR GREASE ALL SIDES AND BOTTOM OF PAN. I LIKE TO ALSO PUT WAX PAPER OR PARCHMENT PAPER WHICH I GREASE AS WELL ON BOTTOM OF THE PAN SO THAT THE CAKE POPS OUT VERY EASILY.
    BAKE FOR 55-60 MINS OR TIL TOOTHPICK OR CAKE TASTER COMES OUT CLEAN.
    COOL 10 MINS ON WIRE RACK.
    REMOVE FROM PAN AND COOL ON WIRE RACK.
    WRAP AND STORE OVERNIGHT BEFORE SLICING.
    MAKES 1 LOAF, APPROX 16 SLICES.

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    Replies
    1. LEFT OFF MY NAME FOR THE BANANA BREAD - KAREN T.

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    2. Thanks for sharing, Karen! You can't beat a good banana bread!

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  24. Hi PJ, I was scrolling through the yummy recipes and noticed the one I posted the other day didn't post. I was on my Ipad and for some reason some things don't work on it. My laptop is more reliable. I posted a very simple candy recipe that I make every year and people love it. I get requests.

    1 bag chocolate morsels
    1 bag butterscotch morsels
    1 can of Spanish peanuts
    (optional- pretzel sticks - not in the original recipe)

    Melt the morsels in the microwave until you can stir through it. Then stir in the peanuts (and pretzel sticks) Put spoonfuls on a cookie sheet. Put cookie sheet in the fridge for 10 minutes. Until firm. I store in a tin in the fridge to avoid melting.

    Fast and easy. Just what I need this time of year. Merry Christmas!

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  25. Thanks for reposting, Annie. Those sound delicious! :)

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  26. I love seeing all these yummy recipes. I bake occasionally - mostly cookies or sometimes a cake from a mix and usually a cheesecake for the holidays.
    Here is one I came across recently and made it twice that it was so good and mois

    MOIST VANILLA CAKE
    4 EGGS
    2 TSPS PURE, NOT IMITATION VANILLA
    2 C GRANULATED SUGAR
    2 C ALL PURPOSE FLOUR
    2 TSP BAKING POWDER
    1 C WHOLE MILK
    1/4 UNSALTED BUTTER

    PREHEAT OVEN TO 350.
    WHISK EGGS, VANILLA AND SUGAR TIL SMOOTH, STIR IN FLOUR AND BAKING POWDER
    COMBINE MILK AND BUTTER IN GLASS MEASURING CUP; HEAT IN MICROWAVE ON HI IN 30 SECOND INTERVALS TIL MILK IS HOT, NOT BOILING
    SLOWLY STIR IN INTO BATTER, SPREAD IN PAN.
    BAKE 22-25 MIN TIL LIGHT GOLDEN BROWN ON TOP, USE TOOTHPICK - SHOULD COME OUT DRY. I USED A ROUND PAN MAYBE 10" ROUND (BIGGER THAN THE 9" ONES).
    ONE TIME I FROSTED IT WITH A DARK CHOCOLATE FROSTING; I USED DUNCAN HINES OR BETTY CROCKER. ANOTHER TIME I SLICED FRESH STRAWBERRIES AND PUT IN A CIRLE IN THE MIDDLE ON TOP OF SOME WHIPPED CREAM FROSTING I HAD MADE - AND PUT IN THE MIDDLE OF CAKE WITH STRAWBERRIES ON IT. IT IS REALLY SO GOOD, AND MY GROUP OF FRIENDS KEPT COMMENTING THEY LOVED IT.
    PATTYB43.

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  27. You would have to post pictures and recipes for sweet treats. I have no will power. This is slightly healthier - maybe.

    SWEET POTATO CASSEROLE


    3 cups sweet potatoes, peeled and boiled until tender (approx. 3 potatoes)
    1 cup sugar
    1 tsp. vanilla
    2 eggs
    1 stick butter, melted

    Mix above ingredients


    Topping:

    1 cup brown sugar
    ½ cup flour
    ¼ cup butter
    1 cup nuts

    Mix (will be crumbly).
    Sprinkle over potatoes

    Cook at 350 for 30 minutes or until hot

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Tracy! I love sweet potatoes. I even slice them, roast them in the oven, and eat them for snacks.

      Hope you're having a wonderful birthday!

      Delete
  28. My mom was an accomplished seemstress. She taught me most of her sewing expertise. As for cooking and baking, I was her sous chef. Her signature cookie was the famous Greek Courabiedes. It’s a crescent shaped nut cookie covered in powdered sugar. They are very popular for the holidays.

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