Baking Down Memory Lane


I learned to cook and bake at a very young age by watching my mom in the kitchen. She had an avocado green KitchenAid stand mixer, Tupperware measuring cups, copper bottom pots and pans and very well used cookie sheets.

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.

a whole plate
a whole stack
a whole dozen


Miss Jody :

Awww...waht a wonderful memory and your cookies look pretty darn tastey!!!

Tina Leigh :

I have one change for your cookies..
Toss the walnuts and add PECANS!! LOL! What is going to happen to the younger generation that has lossed the desire and "know how" of baking and home cooking! Like you, I'm so thankful that my mama took the time to show me how to cook and bake!

Kim :

That's my oatmeal chocolate chip cookie recipe (that I make without a recipe) with the exception of the butter...I use one stick of butter flavor crisco. Those cookies never fail, and like you, I add tons of different things to them when the mood strikes me.

My favorite cookbook is the Pender Community Hospital cookbook that my grandma gave to all of us for Christmas one year (I think it's from 1991). The funny thing is that every time I read a recipe that looks good it's usually from one of my extended family members!

Steph :

That was so sweet...and very similar to my baking stories... my mom had the exact same mixer, pans, etc. course I'm sure there wasn't a whole lot of variety back then :)

Just to let you know, I woke up this morning and there is snow on the ground in Des Moines... thought you might like to know things are back to what they used to be like as kids...trick or treating in snow suits!

Signed- one of your former first grade dancers!

Rhoda @ Southern Hospitality :

Hey, Jill, I have a couple of church cookbooks from my dad's church growing up & I still get them out too. Love those oatmeal/choc. chip cookies. I have a recipe very similar. Mine was supposed to be the original Mrs. Fields recipe. I think these are all about the same. Mine has pecans too.

Unknown :

I have that exact recipe except it also calls for 1/2 tsp of cinnamon. It's the kids' favorite and I actually made them last weekend when my son was home from college.

The 5 Bickies :

YUM - sounds delish. I like to hear how you tweak the recipes. I am such a rule follower and rarely change a thing.

I'm with you on the whole plate...

kmm0305 :

There is nothing like a good church cookbook for the best "go-to" recipes! :) And of course I'm partial to small town Iowa church cookbooks. I do the same "tricks" with my cookies, too--creaming the butter/sugar, extra vanilla, extra flour. I'm not a big nut fan, but the macadamia nuts would be great!

Her Preppiness :

What a lovely post.

Anonymous :

What a wonderful childhood memory!! I love the "personal" recipe books like the one your talking about! Those cookies sound to die for! Hope your having a great week! Hey, Im see your twitter button..Im gonna add ya. I am shortsassymama. = )

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