Thursday, March 13, 2008

Florence's Peanut Butter Cookies

For some odd reason, Wednesday afternoon I decided to make my grandmother's recipe for peanut butter cookies. She passed away about 10 years ago but I think about her a lot and I try to talk about her often with my kids. None of my children remember her. Addie was 3 months when Grandma died but even in that short time, there was a special connection between them. We lived in Grandma's basement and after Addie was born, my grandma used to ask my aunt, who was living with her at the time, for her hearing aids "so I can hear the baby cry." In some of my Grandma's last moments, I would lay Addie (who is named after Florence's grandmother Adeline) next to her in the bed. Even in an unconscious state, she seemed to recognize that the baby was there with her.
It has always been my desire that my children would get to know their Great Grandmother through my memories and shared experiences. So I thought by making these cookies, I could give them a "taste" of what my Grandma was. Making the cookies was a very nostalgic experience - of my Grandma and of my childhood. Her recipe is a basic, no-frill recipe

1/2 C shortening
1/2 C peanut butter
1/2 C brown sugar
1/2 C sugar
1 egg
3/4 t baking soda dissolved in a scant 1/3 cup hot water
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1 1/2 C flour

Cream shortening, peanut butter, and sugars. Beat in egg. Then add water and baking soda with dry ingredients. Roll the dough into balls and bake at 350-375 until done.
I mixed the dough and set out to roll the balls. Then it came to me - she didn't just roll them into balls - she pressed them flat with the tines of a fork! How could I forget? So I did that (realizing later that she actually pressed them twice in a criss cross pattern).

My kids were expected home from school at any minute and I felt like a mom of times past, waiting for my children, baking cookies to be warm for their snack when they arrived home. They were delighted to walk in the door to the smell of freshly baked homemade cookies. I told them that these were my Grandma Florence's peanut butter cookies! Addie brought me back to reality and joked, "wow- these must be really old!" We all laughed and then I explained how coming home to a snack of milk and cookies used to be pretty typical for most kids - like in the "olden days". Their eyes got wide and they asked me if I could do this all the time. Yeah right!

They really liked the cookies, though. They did turn out really good - soft and simple. Eating them just felt like home and made me miss my Grandma.


Anna said...

"These must be really old..." hahahaha.
I think it is so great to link food with connects us. I always think of my Uncle who we used to go stay with up at our cabin when I eat snickerdoodles.
Thanks for the post, it made me think of the people I love and the things (or foods) that make me think of them.

MollyE said...

You are such a fun Mom! Your kids look so grown up, I guess it has been too long!

Anonymous said...

A nice tribute, Emily. For me, too, recipes and foods are a way to link us with other loved ones, both past and present. I have a number of recipes that I always associate with certain people. So when I make them, I not only get something that tastes good, but I am also reminded of that person. I get culinary and psychological satisfaction. By the way, I miss Gram, too.

Now, what I want is some of those peanut butter cookies! ;-)

Kip said...

Oops! That last post was mine. I must have accidentally clicked "anonymous."

Diana said...

Oh, those cookies are SO Grandma. You're doing your kids a big favor by keeping her in their lives. She was an amazing woman we were all blessed to know.

Julie said...

Oh, they look so good! Wish I could come home to warm PB cookies. Very sweet! I miss her too.

The Stubben Family said...

I really enjoyed reading this post Emily. I can really feel the love you have for your great-grandmother. I still remember a talk you gave in the Menlo Park Ward during our Stanford days when you spoke of her and Addie. It brought tears to my eyes then during church and reading your post reminded of that. Small babies and elderly are both so close to the veil, it is a special connection between them. Thank you also for the recipe, we will try it!