The holidays are a time for reminiscing. As a child, our holiday traditions centered around time with family. With a large extended family, this meant lots of food and laughter. My grandma's way of showing us love was with food and those funeral home bonnets when you happened to stop by her house with a wet head and no hat. They were quite fashionable!
My grandma was an excellent baker. Cakes were her specialty and I often times ended up with a special tub of homemade frosting, tinted in my favorite color, for my birthday. Most of my family members had her make their wedding cake. Yes, she loved to bake. While she's not around anymore, I feel a piece of her lives on with me. When I bake, I try to channel her and feel a connection to times gone by.
Her cakes and cookies were generally quite simple. White or chocolate, and sometimes marble, were her usual cake flavor choices. Burnt sugar and banana were meant for special occasions. As I was leafing through an old cookbook, I ran across some of her cookie recipes. It was the type of cookbook that local churches would put together for fundraisers. Her sugar cookie recipe certainly caught my eye. With so many exotic flavors and ingredients in cookies nowadays, it was exciting to see recipes that are simple, yet delicious.
Grandma's Old Fashioned Sugar Cookies
2 cups white sugar
1 cup buttermilk or sour milk
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon soda
1 cup butter or oleo
1 teaspoon vanilla
Flour to roll nice (about 8 cups)
Combine butter, sugar and eggs. Add milk, dry ingredients and vanilla. Roll, cut, and bake at 375 F for 8 to 10 minutes.
Baking tends to help me relieve stress, so on a somewhat stressful day lately I set out to make Grandma's cookies. Here are the ingredients:
Here's a tip: if you don't have buttermilk, you can easily sour milk with some lemon juice or vinegar. Recipes vary, but I usually use approximately 1 tablespoon per cup of milk.
I was hoping to get more action shots, but alas a teething 10-month-old and an inquisitive almost 4-year-old kept me from doing so. One thing I am good at when baking with my kids is making a mess.
I love the directions. Enough flour to roll nice. That was easier said than done because at this point, the teething 10-month-old needed to be held. So, alas, I'm not sure how much flour I actually used. I'm going to guess it was close to 8 cups. I didn't roll it flat and cut out with cookie cutters. I had a brilliant idea to make it as a log and slice off cookies to bake. This way, I thought, I could bake as needed. My husband and I have little to no self control when it comes to cookies, so I was hoping this method would work.
Another tip: aluminum foil and too wet cookie dough don't mix. I lovingly scraped the dough back into the mixer bowl and added some more flour. The next time I used parchment paper. The result was better, but I still have to work on my cookie log rolling technique.
I cut cookies off my amateur cookie log and tried to flatten them with my hands before baking. In the background, I had my almost 4-year-old eating cookie dough and my 10-month-old in the baby carrier because she was crying. I just hoped they were going to work.
And they did! They turned out well. Well enough for a dozen to be eaten within 24 hours. I said we had no self control.