Thursday, May 24, 2012

Preserving Family Traditions...Grandma's Cookies!

Their Signature Cookies...
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.

Zetta's Cookies...
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 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.

The Recipe
(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.
Preheat oven to 370 degrees F. Line cookie sheets with parchment, or leave ungreased.

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.

Patta's Cookies...
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 I always preferred my gingerbread's cold at the North Pole, right?

Grandma Patta was a doll collector.  She had a special room filled with cabinets displaying her dolls.  The little girl on the right is from her collection.  She made all the clothes for her dolls and many for her granddaughters' dolls.
A few years ago I found this recipe and made copies for all my sisters.  I lost it soon after, but by some miracle...and a lot of digging...I was able to find it again.  I like to believe that my dear Grandmothers are smiling down at me and are pleased with their granddaughter's somewhat awkward attempts to share her memories of them.  Speaking of granddaughters...

Madisons Gift...
A Mother's Day giftie from my sweet 14 year-old Madison.
She knows how much I love red and white she made this little dish in ceramics class.
Could it be any cuter?


vintage grey said...

Hi Shirley!! I so enjoy reading your post about your families history!! It is so great to have such memories! Thanks for sharing both your grandma's recipes!! They look so good!! I know my mom has some family recipes that I need to get, and give them a try!! I did once buy a recipe holder with some sweet ladies recipes, that I need to try, too!! Hope your day is lovely!! xo Heather

GARAGE SALE GAL ~ Deb's Earthly Delights said...

That is so cool that you have their recipes. I made chocolate chips cookies today with the Grand! YUM! I want her to have nice memories of our time together!
Sweet fairy garden too! Mine is it may become a rock fairy garden!

Little Susie Home Maker said...

I love the stories and the honesty about your grandma's! What lovely memories! I always remember a time my grandma made me fried bananas! It always sticks to my mind. And peanut butter and jelly mixed in a bowl. As a child I loved these!
Your Grandma's cookies look great. must add to my list of recipes I want to make.
Your granddaughter did an excellent job! That is the cutest pin cushion ever! What a sweetie!
Oh, yeah, my cookie will probably be Chocolate chip snickerdoodle!

Betsy said...

Both recipes look so good! It's funny--I can't remember my grandma's making any specific cookies regularly. I guess my signature cookie is the good old Toll House chocolate chip recipe. Except I add a little more flour and a dash more salt. I also love to make molasses crinkles and oatmeal cookies, which were my mon's specialties.

Your pin cushion is adorable! What a sweet gift. So thoughtful that she knew what you liked and made it for you.