There’s a recipe at the end of this post.
There is also homework in this post.
If you’ve ever watched the food network, you know how often it is that someone will say “It’s my grandma’s recipe” or “my mother taught me how”.
Or maybe it’s just me, and I’m more aware of it because my mother was not keen on teaching me the way around the kitchen. Cooking was not her forte, which is fine. She raised 4 incredible kids and I am in awe.
But it left me to learn the hard way why it’s important to not get your measurements for flour and baking soda mixed up, and why you don’t use straight dish soap in the dishwasher when you run out of dishwasher soap (though I didn’t mind this mistake: bubbles everywhere!)
When I moved in with my aunt I suddenly discovered the rich heritage of cooking my family has. Not to mention that she decided to adopt a little girl as a single mom, and she rocks at empowering everyone who knows her. She taught me how to bake a ham, put a weekly menu together, shop for groceries at the best prices, etc.
Even on my husband’s side of the family, my in-law women delightedly took me on their own version of a culinary course by sharing their prized generational recipes. Every one of them originated from a woman in the past.
I know there are men who cook too (my father-in-law makes the best lefsa I’ve ever tasted!) But let’s face it gals: we are awesome at cooking and we have the huge shoulders of women who have gone before us to stand on .
I’d like to start a project on this blog of honoring women from the past by sharing the recipes they’ve given us. I’ve posted one below. Feel free to post your own in the comments. But here’s the homework: along with the recipe, write a short paragraph about the woman from whom the recipe originated. If she’s still alive today, interview her. If she is no longer with us, talk to those who knew her and get as much information as you can. They don’t even have to be related to you.
Let’s honor the women of our past by showing the world how awesome they were, and sharing their culinary skills with others. At the very least, you will have some unique conversations.
Grandma Rugroden’s Freezer Chocolate Chip Cookies
Shortly after her grandson and I started dating, Grandma Rugroden gave us each a Hershey’s kiss for Valentine’s day. She had the softest face I’ve ever seen, with stern eyes that told me she knew how to hold her own. She raised five wonderful men. By the time I met her she had learned how to keep doing what she enjoyed despite an amputated leg, failing eye sight, constant dialysis, and numbness in her hands. She knew how to cook even without her eyesight, and could measure ingredients accurately in the palm of her hand.
“Well?” She said, gesturing with her hands expectantly. “Aren’t you going to kiss?”
I’m sure my face looked like a tomato resting on top of a tremulous pile of nerves. My family has a tradition when it comes to kissing — as in, save it until after you are married. So we had already talked about it and decided not to kiss until we were married. Though I’m sure my boyfriend wouldn’t have minded, he calmly explained this to Grandma. She left us alone, although the look on her face as she wheeled her chair away was the cutest expression of disappointment and impishness I’ve ever seen on anyone.
Married now, and with Grandma gone, we both wish we had thrown tradition out the window. How much trouble could we have gotten into if it was Grandma’s idea?!
Every time I make her chocolate chip cookies I think about those chocolate kisses. This recipe reminds me to never let life’s rules get in the way of actually living life. It also reminds me that having an older woman give me permission to do something brave is sometimes all the inspiration I need, and I want to pass that on to the younger women in my life.
She always kept her cookies in the freezer for some reason. I never found out why, but it sure made them taste good on a hot day. Now I always keep a stash in the freezer, and ingredients on hand to make more.
1/2 cup butter (room temperature)
1/2 cup crisco
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 cups & 2 tbs flour
Chocolate chips to taste
Preheat oven to 350. In a mixer, blend butter, crisco, white sugar, and brown sugar. Add the other ingredients one at a time, being careful to only add a little bit of flour at a time so it doesn’t poof everywhere.
Place balls of dough on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Makes a little more than 24 cookies, depending on the size of the dough balls. When I use a small cookie scoop, I can usually get 3 dozen small cookies.
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