Sunday, September 27, 2015
These cookies were one of my Maw Maw's favorite recipes. The original version was written by a woman named Jane who at one time attended our church. I only remember from her time at a local nursing center that I often visited with my Girl Scout troop. She was a gentle lady, and she stands out in my memory because she carried around a stuffed gray kitten; it was her baby. I remember thinking what a wonderful grandmother she must have before she was unable to remember the life around her. If I close my eyes and think hard enough, I can still feel her frail shoulders and hear her tiny singsong yet unintelligible voice. There was a particular small giggle she would make when you paid attention to her kitten. It was sad and darling at the same time.
Interestingly enough, I remember making these the last Christmas season Maw Maw was able to communicate—she had also started to quickly lose the ability to talk because of her Alzheimer's diagnosis. She was so easily frustrated back then, and I can only imagine what it must be like to think something, to will your lips to move, yet be unable to make that happen. But we got along well in the kitchen, and making these cookies together will always be one of my fondest memories of her and of holiday baking.
It's unfortunate that sometimes our most vivid memories of someone are the ones tied to less pleasant moments. It can be hard to pull a silvery thread of happiness from the back of your mind, one tied to the moments where you can still hear your grandmother hum. But the more often I make these cookies, the easier it is to remember. They're literally a sweet reminder of two sweet women. I can only hope that one day when I'm old and gray that my granddaughter will remember our precious moments together, that she'll pull out this recipe and make cookies for her children, too.
Old-Fashioned Drop Sugar Cookies
By Confabulation in the Kitchen
These crisp, crumbly, buttery cookies are guaranteed to melt in your mouth. I tend to make them when the mercury just starts to drop, and I like to top them with seasonal sprinkles, which add a delicious pop of sugar when you chew. My husband, who's from Down East North Carolina, says his Aunt Carolyn also makes these (without the sprinkles), but she calls them tea cakes, which is a wonderful old Southern idea. (And hers are equally delicious!) Serve these cookies piled on a plate with a pot of hot coffee or tea.
4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1. Heat oven to 350 F.
2. In medium bowl, whisk together flour through salt.
3. In large bowl, cream butter and sugars until fluffy. Add oil, eggs, and vanilla and beat well.
4. Using a cookie scoop, drop mounds of dough onto parchment-lined baking sheets. Decorate if desired. Bake 15 to 20 minutes, or until cookies are brown on the edges and just golden on top. Let cool at least 3 minutes before moving to wire racks to completely cool. Store in an airtight container with wax paper between layers.