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 Have a sweet holiday and save kitchen memories while you can 
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Post Have a sweet holiday and save kitchen memories while you can
I've taken the old family recipes and made a scrap book from them. Some of the recipes are written in my lovely Grandmothers' handwriting. Other Aunts and Uncles, too, have contributed.

I've also added a picture of them with me (where possible).

It was work, yes, but the memories were so, so sweet.

I would urge you to try this.

Although this column wasn't written by me - it definitely resonates with me and helps me recall Christmas past.

My Grandmother's biscuit recipe calls for shortening "the size of a hen's egg." She never measured anything for her biscuits - too many kids and grandkids and no idea who would be there! ;)

Enjoy!


Everything tasted better when my grandma was around. :agree

Growing up, we didn't get to see my dad's side of the family all that often, but I noticed at some point that all the food we ate in Grandma Kinsman's presence was exponentially more delicious. Later on, I came to realize that it wasn't due to some special grandmotherly mojo, but rather that she used real butter rather than margarine, and my family shopped accordingly when she was in town.

No matter the ingredients, I was predisposed to enjoy her cooking. I loved her and she loved me, her weird, short-haired, misfit granddaughter, even if the rest of the world wasn't inclined to. Seldom did I feel that love so strongly as when her yearly shipment of holiday cookies arrived.

These weren't just any old Snickerdoodles or oatmeal raisins (though I surely wouldn't have turned up my nose at anything she was kind enough to offer me). It was a parcel of wonder that would arrive by way of the U.S. Postal Service: one or two (sometimes two!) department store short boxes with the tops bowed out by the goodies nestled within.

This was a massive undertaking. Aided by my Aunt Myrna, my grandmother would craft hundreds, or sometimes thousands of unfailingly scrumptious sugar-dusted, nut-crusted, frosting-slathered, jam dotted cookies, each nestled into a small sleeve of wax paper. Unwrapping them (after we'd all squabbled and honed in on each family member's favorites) was a small, but momentous event - a visit, a hug, a memory to treasure.

And memories are all I have. Both Grandma and Aunt Myrna have passed on, and for a million small, silly, selfish and short-sighted reasons, I never made the time to get into the kitchen with them and learn at their experienced hands. Even if I had the recipes (which I do not, and other than Swedish Gems, I don't even know names with which to research), I'd be lacking the infinitesimal details: the precise piping of the jam into a sugar-dusted fold, the point at which to press the walnut half so it stays lodged in the bottom of the cookie, the consistency of the chocolate frosting so it enrobes but doesn't drip or crack.

Excellent baking is equal parts science, experience and love and I unwittingly cheated myself out of several of those key ingredients. Please, if you still have the chance, ensure a lifetime of sweet holiday memories for yourself and your family and get into the kitchen with your older loved ones NOW.

Scan It
Do your grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins or parents have a box of hand-written recipes, yellowed newspaper clippings utterly essential to making the holiday cake you spend the rest of the year dreaming about? Pay a visit with camera in hand, or see if they'd mind parting with them for a short while while you archive for posterity.

Share It
Don't go hogging all that history just for yourself! While it's not quite the same as having the actual sauce-stained and flour-dusted card in hand, chances are, everyone in your family would be delighted by a custom-made cookbook. Make a printable PDF to share digitally, or publish a private family website or blog so you all can share your favorite kitchen memories.

If you've got a slightly bigger budget, consider a print-on-demand publishing service like Lulu or Cafepress or a recipe-specific site like Tastebook and loved ones to order a copy, or surprise them with a holiday gift that will last a lifetime.

Record It
Measurements? Shmeasurements. Many home recipes lose something in translation from hand to handwritten. Capture all those pinches, dashes and smidgens on video, in the cook's own words. You don't have to be all Martin Scorsese about it - just flip on your video camera or your cell phone and hit record. Ask questions along the way - "Who taught you to make this?" "Did my mom like to eat this?" "Was it always easy to get the ingredients?" - and you'll end up with a story that feeds more than just your stomach.

Is grandma camera-shy? See if she'll go for just a voice recording, and maybe some shots of her hands and the steps of the dish. You can get creative in the editing process later; what counts right now is that you're spending some time together.

Cook It
Don't have access to a camera, or just don't dig the notion of sitting back and documenting? That's okay - just go ahead and get your hands dirty. There is no better way to truly learn a recipe than to get in there and make it yourself. Ask the cook for a coaching session so you can get a feel for the texture of a dough, when the yeast has risen just enough or exactly how the sauce ought to run off a spoon or taste at this point in the process. Then, when it's all done, sit down together and feast.

While your future renditions of the dish may or may not taste exactly like your loved one's, I guarantee you this: you will never, ever eat it alone. :heart

http://eatocracy.cnn.com/2011/12/19/have-a-sweet-holiday-and-save-kitchen-memories-while-you-can/?hpt=hp_bn8

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Tue Dec 20, 2011 8:00 am
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Post Re: Have a sweet holiday and save kitchen memories while you can
I have wonderful 8mm movies of Christmases past; (1960 Christmas present of a super 8 movie camera, no sound) one of the movies is a 2 or 3 minute shot of my youngest sister sitting at the big kitchen table at great grandmom's house. They are busy icing cut out sugar cookies. She made these fabulous molasses flavored cookie that had a solid chocolate mint in the center and a 1/2 walnut on top. I know one of the secret ingredients was some bacon fat with the other shortening. But unfortunately, that is all I know about that cookie. :( . Thanks for the memories of the cookie kitchen, with the cinnamon red hots and silver shot for the ginger bread men.... :candle :candle


Leo

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Tue Dec 20, 2011 8:27 am
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Post Re: Have a sweet holiday and save kitchen memories while you can
Molasses Sugar Cookies RECIPE!

Image

or

Molasses BACON GREASE Cookies RECIPE!

Image

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Tue Dec 20, 2011 9:27 am
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Post Re: Have a sweet holiday and save kitchen memories while you can
Freak - ummm - great looking cookies.

Leo - I just had all my parent's 8 mm home movies digitized. These movies begin in 1959 - lots of wonderful scenes of Christmas past. Easter, Thanksgiving and vacations, too.

Walgreens did it.

I made a 4 minute clip viewable on my Ipad to show my brother on Christmas Eve. Yes, his present is a DVD of the movies. :mrgreen:

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Tue Dec 20, 2011 9:58 am
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Post Re: Have a sweet holiday and save kitchen memories while you can
BB, what a wonderful family treasure!!


Tue Dec 20, 2011 2:39 pm
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Post Re: Have a sweet holiday and save kitchen memories while you can
Thanks, barb! Sadly, I just found out yesterday that the DVD's just shipped and won't be available for Christmas! :gah

They should arrive next week. Oh well, at least I have the video clip, right?

I added music to the clip - Forever Young by Rod Stewart. :mrgreen:

Think he's gonna cry? I did! :crylaugh

The clip starts with Easter 1960. Our parents (who died 7 years ago) were 29 and 33, respectively. My brother was 6 years old and I was 9. In four minutes, I show him growing up! The clips at the end are some we have never seen - they are of his children as babies/toddlers.

Not gonna be a dry eye in the house, IMHO! :heart :spit

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The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little. - FDR


Wed Dec 21, 2011 9:27 am
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