Monday, May 27, 2013


The journey begins! I'm both excited and nervous, but I started with an easy one (or, what I thought would be easy!). I figured starting with a cookie recipe would help break the ice - I'm no stranger to cookie-making and who doesn't love fresh-baked cookies?

The problem? I let my son choose. Out of all the cookie recipes he could pick, he chose one simply labeled "Cookies". Not all that revealing.

I got all the ingredients out, measured and was ready to get underway. A miracle happened and I actually thought to preheat the oven while I was preparing, only:
1. The recipe did not indicate a temperature to bake at.
2. The recipe did not indicate how long to bake for.

So, I referenced the good ol' Settlement Cookbook (The way to a man's heart. No, seriously, that's the title)

Most of the cookies with the same basic ingredients cooked at around 375. Sounded good to me!

The Recipe Card:
It's a list of ingredients. Plain and simple.

I thought to myself, "how does anyone bake a plate of cookies with recipes like this?". But then I realized that people were (and I'm sure there are a lot who still are) more competent in the kitchen 'back then'. In fact, I remember grandma often making cookies without even referencing a recipe. My other grandmother is the same - Go ahead, ask her for her Cinnamon Roll recipe. I just hope you know how much "a pinch" means, and don't forget to stop adding flour when it looks "about right".

I need a bit more to go on than quantities and ingredients.

The Process:
With little direction, I went with what I typically tend to do - dry ingredients in one bowl, wet ingredients in the other, combine.

Then I get to this part of the recipe where it says "Date or Raising Filling". I'm not sure if that's for these cookies or another recipe altogether! I've never heard of a cookie having a 'filling'. At this point, I'm about to abandon ship. But seriously, how boring would these cookies be without something in there.

I press on, only slightly concerned about how I'm going to get another 1/2 cup of Brown Sugar into the mix, with a pound of raisins!

Turns out this batter is surprisingly moist. I'm sure that has nothing at all to do with the 3/4 cup of Shortening and 3/4 cup of Butter.

Again, no mention of the pan and whether it's to greased or not. Seeing as it has 3/4 cup of Shortening and 3/4 cup of Butter, it probably didn't, but I gave it a good coat anyways, just to be on the safe side :)

In the oven they go. Then I set my timer (also know as Jack).

Done and done. And delicious.

The Recipe:

3/4 cup Shortening
3/4 cup Butter
2 cups Brown Sugar
2 Eggs
4 cups Flour (about)
1 tsp Soda
2 tsp Cream of Tartar
1 tsp Salt
3 tbsp Milk

Date or Raisin Filling
1 lbs Date
1 cup Brown Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla

That's it folks, no instructions here. I've made some notes below.

My Personal Notes:

  • This recipe yielded approximate 7 dozen. I suspect had my cookies been uniform, it would have been 8 dozen, but some of them got a little out of control.
  • Fail-safe of 375 for 8 minutes was perfection
  • For the Brown Sugar, I did not pack it when I measured. 
  • The "(about)" beside the amount of flour frightened me. I used 4 cups exactly.
  • Mixing the 'extra' brown sugar with the raisins is genius. I always have trouble getting raisins to stick to the rest of the dough when I fold them in, but the Brown Sugar coats them and helps them "cling", for lack of a better word. 

Absolutely my go-to cookie recipe now! Any sort of combination of fruit/sweets/nuts would be amazing in these bad boys.

And... I've eaten about 6 of them tonight alone.

So glad I was able to share this recipe with you!


Sunday, May 26, 2013

Through Grandma's Cookbook - The History

On May 1 2013, my beloved grandmother, Mrs. Mary Winnifred Murphy (nee Turner) passed away. This blog is in loving memory of her.

After my grandfather passed away in 2010, my brother and I reminisced that through the years my grandparent's were always our "constant". They were our home away from home.

My grandparent's home was a place of constant comfort and love... and great food! It wasn't "gourmet" or over-the-top. Nothing you would find in a fancy foodie magazine. But it was awesome. Always.

Grandma could throw together a Christmas dinner in her sleep.

After she passed, I spent some time looking through her photographs - It shouldn't have surprised me the number of photos there were of us eating around their formal dining room table. I cringe looking back through years of horrendous haircuts and my incredibly unfortunately '90s apparel, but I digress.

Grandma taught me many things (the foxtrot, how to iron a shirt collar, and how a lady announces she needs to use the washroom - "I must powder my nose"), but above all else, she made me love food.  Was it because her cooking was exceptional (yes), or because all my favourite memories revolved around dinner (yes), or because it was her way of always taking care of her family (yes)?

Everything was always prepared perfectly, served on hotplates they had collected through their travels, and there was always so much of it that we had to call in the reserves (the extra side tables) to hold it all. To say we were all borderline comatose by the end of our meal would be a gross understatement.

When my grandparent's moved into a nursing home, I was the very lucky recipient of a lot of her recipes - even the "old red box" - my personal favourite. 

That's where this journey begins. 

Part of what I love most about these recipes is that they're old, tried and true, and don't require any fancy or excessive equipment. Which is awesome, because I don't own any.

Oh, and lard. Lots and lots of lard.

For me, this is a journey of love. I'm still learning and healing, and this is a way for me to remember my grandmother in a very intimate way. I'm not an expert chef and I don't know tons about food or photography, but I'm anxious to learn.

Your mind has a way of forgetting how amazing something smells - like peanut butter cookies right out of the oven; or the way something tastes - like the crisp crunch of a cool, fresh cole slaw. But as soon as those cookies come out of the oven, or your fork touches your lips, it all comes flooding back to you. And it's not just the smell or taste you remember, it's every time you've ever pretended to be sick to stay home from school with your grandparents (and ended up baking cookies), or every Sunday dinner 'just because', with the infamous cole slow in the mint-green glass bowl.

She'd probably think this is all poppycock ;) 

It's time to open the red tin box...