When I think about my two grandmothers, I remember what they taught me, how much they loved me...and cookies! Grandma Zetta and Grandma Patta each had a cookie recipe that was her "signature" cookie. What is your cookie? What will your grandchildren remember about you? Mine will probably see a bag of "Golden Oreos," and think of me fondly. What they won't realize is that I switched to Golden Oreos when I became too lazy to brush my teeth after eating the classic chocolate ones.
This week I located the recipes (or a reasonable facsimile) for my grandmothers' cookies. I baked them, photographed them for posterity...and now I wish to share them with you.
My first memories of eating at Grandma Zetta's house are confusing. I know that it was the late 50s or early 60s, so why did it feel like I had gone back to Ma Ingall's kitchen? In those days, Grandma Zetta still used a coal stove to cook with and heat water. My father says Grandma was a good cook, but I remember that most of her rolls were burned on the bottom when she took them out of the old iron stove. Remember Sunday chicken dinners at Grandma's? I sure do. Just as Mom and Dad were loading us into the car to drive to Alpine, the phone would ring. It was Grandma. "Tad, since you're coming up, could you stop at the KFC and pick up a bucket of chicken?"
Grandma Zetta was a practical woman...the queen of the "use it up, make it do" club. Life during the Great Depression taught her to be frugal. When I slept over, our meals would feature left-overs from the day before...and the day before that. When Grandma and Grandpa got tired of the carrot and jell-o salad...did she throw it out? No, ma'am! She gave it to us. "Rhea, I brought over some carrot and jell-o salad...it gave Mel gas. Do you think your kids will eat it?" Bless her heart...she meant well...but we seldom got to sample her cooking on the first go-round. It wouldn't have been so bad, but she did it with her cookies as well.
Chocolate Walnut Cookies...
Grandma Zetta's chocolate walnut cookies were two of my favorite food-groups...chocolate and walnuts. Once in a very great while we went to visit her on the day the cookies came out of the oven...electric by now...and I was in heaven! The little brown bear by the plate was found in Zetta's cupboard...there is a matching sugar and creamer.
(makes 2 dozen depending on how much dough you consume...)
- 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 cups unsalted butter. (mine was salted so I omitted adding salt)
- 1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup walnuts coarsely chopped.
Beat together butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating until well-combined. Add dry ingredients, stirring until just combined, then add the walnuts. Will be thick and chocolatey like brownies.
Using a cookie scoop or a heaping tablespoon, make sure there is at least 2" space between the cookies on the sheet. Bake on center rack until puffed, but still shiny...10 to 11 minutes. No longer...I burned the second batch. Frost when cool with your favorite chocolate frosting and sprinkle with walnuts. Feed them to your grandchildren sometime in the first week after baking...but they won't last the first day.
When I wrote about Grandma Patta at Christmas, I mentioned that I truly believed that she was Santa's Helper. One of the reasons was that she always smelled like gingerbread. Patta's specialty was gingerbread cake and molasses cookies. I wish I could say that Grandma Patta was a brilliant cook...but alas! I would often spend a week at a time with her and I can honestly say that she knew how to cook less than a dozen different items. For lunch we would get the TV trays out and watch "The Price is Right" while dipping toast triangles into eggs sunnyside up! Loved it! For snacks she made me tomato slices dusted with sugar.
She wasn't much of cook, but I loved her and anything she made for me. She kept her cake and cookies in the refrigerator...so I always preferred my gingerbread cold...it's cold at the North Pole, right?