My mom used recipes from family and friends for the bulk of our meals and sweet treats. Many of them were made from memory, and many others were lovingly written on recipe cards. About ten years ago my mom wrote her favorite recipes on cards for me and I cherish them not only for all the tasty memories those recipes hold, but also because I get to see my mom's handwriting every time I use them.
I've compiled quite a collection of cookbooks over the years, but my favorite cookbook is from a small country church just outside my hometown. It was given to me for Christmas 1985 by two little girls to whom I taught ballet. I was a senior in high school and I think they were in 1st or 2nd grade. That was almost 25 years ago in case you're counting, and it seems like I use it more and more as the years tick by. Heck, it's almost vintage!
The recipe I make the most is chocolate chip oatmeal cookies. The page is ragged, a little slick from years of flour dust settling in, and now that I have kids of my own helping me bake, the pages are a little sticky, too. I have committed the recipe to memory long ago, but every time I make them, I have to have my beloved book propped open.
One of the very first things my mom taught me when baking was to cream the butter and sugar together very well first. I blend mine until it is fluffy. Then I add eggs and beat very well again.
* I also use 3-4x the amount of vanilla called for in almost everything I bake. I think it gives a much richer (but not sweeter) taste.
* For cookies I add an additional 1/4 cup (or little more) of flour. I like round, soft cookies - as opposed to thin and crispy - and I find this is one thing that helps. I also add 1/2 cup more oatmeal than called for.
* I also love to add chopped walnuts to these cookies. My husband recently suggested making them with white chocolate chips, oatmeal and macadamia nuts. Sounds pretty darn delicious to me.
And then there's the best part.