“Cooking is Like Love. It Should Be Entered Into with Abandon or Not at All.”
~Harriet Van Horne
Once upon a time there was a woman with two daughters. To them she bequeathed her appreciation for food made with the freshest ingredients. Raspberries picked in the backyard. Corn grilled in husks over an open flame. Meat marinated in thick homemade sauces. Desserts blended with butter and real cream.
Each year, at Christmas time, the daughters helped prepare traditional foods for the holiday season. A favorite, treasured recipe was for spritz cookies. This cookie had a soft, buttery texture that touched the tongue gently then exploded with flavor. “Hellooooo” this cookie announced as it woke up the senses with eye closing pleasure. As the taste faded, hands would reach for another cookie to extend the experience. After all, if one cookie is good, two will be even better.
What makes this cookie so delightful? To one daughter, the mother said it was the extra half cup of butter. To the other daughter, she said it was the rich egg yolks. The daughters agreed these ingredients were important but knew its true magnificence came from heartwarming memories associated with a loving mom.
Mom has been gone these past 18 years but whenever we make her spritz we feel her presence. Her voice, her image and her mannerisms are resurrected as we bake and taste these delights. Family traditions, especially ones involving multiple senses, provide comfort and remembered love. And that is what makes this cookie truly spectacular. Love you mom.
“When nothing else subsists from the past, after the people are dead, after the things are broken and scattered· the smell and taste of things remain poised a long time, like souls bearing resiliently, on tiny and almost impalpable drops of their essence, the immense edifice of memory” -Marcel Proust
Grandma was predictable. When we traveled to her home, she would look out her dining room window watching for our arrival. Once we were spotted, she would rush outside and embrace us in hugs. My siblings and I vied for her attention as we were ushered into the house for dinner. Dinner was delicious comfort food. Swedish meatballs, mashed potatoes, corn, and strawberry banana jello. Dessert always followed. Sugar cookies and Cass-Clay vanilla ice cream.
These foods, especially when combined within one single meal, awaken vivid memories of grandma. Preparing them with my children is a way to introduce and connect her to them. Her sugar cookies are easy to make and difficult to resist. The buttery dough is silky and makes perfectly round cookies every time.
Sugar Cookie Comfort
2 cups butter (room temperature)
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
4 cups flour
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter. Add eggs and sugar. Beat well. Add sifted dry ingredients and vanilla. Mix thoroughly. Form into small balls (heaping teaspoonful size). Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten with bottom of a glass dipped in sugar. Dip glass in sugar between each cookie press. Bake for 10 minutes. Makes 5 dozen.
Below is a copy of grandma’s recipe in her own writing. She used 1 cup butter and 1 cup shortening. I prefer butter so in my version of her recipe I skip the shortening and double the butter.