Baking and Tradition

I’ve always been preoccupied with piano, books and riding my bicycle, so I can’t say I spent much time in the kitchen. Mom wasn’t crazy about cooking nor allowing me in the kitchen (if you could see the mess I make when I cook, you would understand her reasoning). Meals were strategically planned and rotated on a regular basis. Very smart. However, all bets are off during the holidays. It seems there is a smorgasbord of food and dessert. Oh the cookies!! Chocolate chip, peanut butter blossoms, butter balls and of course, Vavo’s (grandmother’s) cookies.

My mother makes her grandmother’s cookies annually, whether it is for the holiday or during the month of her passing. It is a nice way to remember the time she had with her and the recipients of the cookies are always delighted! She would ask for my help while kneading the dough and pouring in the oil. And of course, I had the prestigious job of testing the cookies when they were done; a very serious job might I add?

All throughout high school and college I found myself exhausted around the holidays, so I never really had the time to cook or bake anything new. When I was about to get married I thought I might want to learn how to cook something besides the tasteless meals of stir fry or pasta. For my bridal shower, my family and friends each shared their favorite recipes on special recipe cards. I was so delighted with this idea. Later on though, my mom handed down all her famous recipes, including Vavo’s cookies.

It wasn’t until a few years ago that I attempted to make the cookies. Interpreting the recipe was a challenge for my mom but over the years she made it her own. Then she had to translate it for me. The original recipe included measurements like two fingers of this or a handful  of this etc. So converting that to cups must have been a challenge. My copy of the recipe says to use teaspoons and tablespoons from our flatware and not the measuring spoons. And I do have to use a handful of oil. Good thing my hand is the same size as my mom’s or we would have trouble!

The first time I surprised my mom with a batch of cookies I thought she might cry or die or both. She looked so delighted. Today I am working on a batch again, this time I tried using my KitchenAid mixer. I do wonder if it will taste differently because I did not knead the dough with my hands. We shall see!!


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