'Tis the Season

To be baking! Alright, I know those aren't the words, but it is true nonetheless.

Mom made the best pie crusts in the world! She often bemoaned that fact that they were too flakey and wouldn't hold together. A bit of history is required here. Mom was the seventh daughter, I am thinking, by the time she came along, there were already too many cooks in the kitchen, so she never learned to cook at her mothers knee. Before she married our Dad, she says she made sandwiches and that was about it. Our Dad, was the seventh son (is there a pattern going on here? Yes, but that is another post, or maybe one my Sister will tackle) and he did learn to cook, I am not sure it was at his mothers knee, but he taught our mom some basics and the rest she learned by trial and error.

She got a lot of her recipes directly from the back of boxes, Tenderflake pie crusts, Shortbread from the Cornstarch box, you get the idea. Over the years Mom's talent grew as did her recipe collection, not many people can follow a recipe and have it turn out so well. I know this because everyone raved about Mom's pie crusts and cookies and cakes and squares and so on. They would then take the recipe and follow it and then next time they saw Mom would ask for her secret.

The first time I lived away from home, I thought it would be nice if I could make Shortbread cookies to bring home for Christmas, so phoned and got the recipe & secrets from Mom. So, here I am merrily mixing ingredients in my barely ever used bowl, with my hardly ever used wooden spoon, when SNAP! The damned handle on my wooden spoon broke! I called Mom. What else do you do when your spoon breaks in the batter? She told me not to worry, just pick out the wood pieces and use another spoon! So, I get all the tiny splinters out and grab another spoon (I am sure that Mom started making a batch at home to serve guests, but if she did, she never told me) and proceed to mix in the second last cup of flour. SNAP! Oh shit! So, I pick out the splinters yet again and decide it it time to use my bare hands. This was in the '80's folks, artificial nails a mile long!

Well, I got the cookies made. Mom had told me that the recipe made about 4 dozen cookies. I managed to make 90 cookies - that is 7 and a half dozen. The funny thing is to me they looked the same size as the ones Mom made. The following year I snapped another spoon and made 120 cookies. The year after that for my birthday, I was given a set of nylon/plastic spoons - I don't really know what they are made from, but they don't break and I still have them. I still manage between 80 and 100 cookies from this recipe too, I can't seem to make them any bigger.

I will tell you in my next post why this year I won't be baking.

Good afternoon all.


the Bag Lady said...

And therein lies the secret to those great cookies - kneading! (and wood splinters...)

Reb said...

you've got it!