On this Mother’s Day, I am thinking a lot about my Grandma Minnie. I think of how she displayed such remarkable persistence throughout her entire life. I am not sure if it came from having been with her so often, or if she passed some of that quality to me through our shared genes…whatever, at this moment in time, I am glad to hear my siblings call me, “Minnie”.
This post is an abbreviated version of one of my very first blog postings. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoy the memories it brings back on this special day in May.
When I was a little girl, growing up in Detroit, my grandparents lived only a few miles away in a middle-class neighborhood typical of the city. I spent a lot of time at their house, and one of my best memories is how I always marveled at the idea that my Grandma Minnie could make cookies with the bacon drippings she always collected in a small crock on her kitchen counter.
Then last fall, as I was going through boxes that have not been gone through for many years, I came across an envelope my Dad had given me that contained recipes hand-written by his sister Helen. I never knew my Aunt Helen because she died at the age of twelve. But she has always been a big part of my life. I was named for her, and my grandparents talked often to me about her and how… “You are so much like her”, as Grandma used to say.
One of the recipes in the envelope was for Oatmeal Cookies and one of the ingredients was lard. This instantly reminded me of those cookies Grandma used to make, so I thought I would give them a try. Jim loved the idea because he got to eat bacon every day until I had enough saved bacon drippings to make the cookies. He was not as excited about eating them!
Recipe for Oatmeal Cookies
1 cup sugar 1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup lard 1 cup raisins
1/2 cup butter 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
2 eggs, well beaten 2 cups flour
2 cups rolled oats, dry 1 tsp. baking powder sifted into flour
1/2 cup sour milk 1/2 tsp. baking soda
Drop very small spoonfuls on tins, greased first time only, and bake at 400 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes.
I made these cookies two ways. I made them with bacon drippings first, then made some using Crisco shortening for the lard. If you are a dough-snitcher…and I am, try to avoid the urge to “snitch” from the version with the bacon drippings…the flavor is very off-putting! The cookies, however, taste pretty good. Jim actually prefers these if he is having a cup of coffee with them.
The cookies made with the Crisco shortening were very good…as was the dough. The thing I like best about these cookies, either version, is that they are not so sweet. I will make them again, with the Crisco, and hope you will try them, too.
Eventually my Grandma Minnie moved into our house. She was a constant presence in our lives. She helped in so many ways, always being there if our parents could not. And she continued to cook for us occasionally. She continued helping Mom and Dad can every food imaginable each summer, just as she and my Grandfather had done for years. My brother used to go to the cellar and get a quart of peaches, sit down in front of the TV and devour the whole thing in one sitting.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms and grandmas out there in this big, wide, mostly wonderful, world!