Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Take Me Back Tuesday: Not Your Ordinary Cookies

Over the weekend, I watched a show on the food network channel which was a bake off among several teams. One team struggled with a old fashion cookie recipe not coming out like the other team member remembered it from their childhood. An argument broke out and accusations of not following the recipe exact was the blame for the mishap with the cookies not being the best they should have been.

Now, normally I don't watch the food network, that is more my husbands style of television watching...I'm more into reality shows myself...but this argument caught my attention and I wanted to see how this ended. Mostly, it confirmed my thoughts on replicating vintage recipes from my past to only be slightly disappointed in the finished product today.

Growing up, I remember especially during my preteen and teenage years, I baked a lot. You name it, I could bake it. Especially during the summer months, my mom worked during the day, so I had lots of time for baking. I remember looking through cookbooks to find recipes that we had all the ingredients for and I'd make it. I have mentioned here before of a pound cake I used to make, that was to die for. It was the most flavorful, buttery, moist cake and it always came out perfect each and every time I made it.

Along with that pound cake, I made lots of cookies. Chocolate chip, peanut butter, oatmeal, teacakes, sand tarts,  and butter cookies were just a few of the many cookies I'd bake. And even being a young baker, I never had any issues with anything I made not turning out just right. Never.

You would think at my age, and all the years I have spent in the kitchen cooking I would not have an issue with some of my favorite vintage recipes. I mean after all, I spent years making them perfectly when I was younger, so why would I have any issues today with the same tried and true recipes? I have struggled with that for a while now.

This weekend, I did some rearranging in my kitchen, cleaned out all the cabinets, brought out some of my favorite things that belonged to special people in my life and displayed them in my kitchen. I have said for years, I am buying back my childhood one item at a time, and so I unboxed several thrift store treasures that were exactly like the ones that once belonged to family members. Overall, I felt like it was a productive day, and honestly made me feel like cooking up something from my past.

And that is exactly what I did. I found some of my OLD cookbooks and sat and looked through them finding the recipes I always used to make. That was the easy part, as the pages that were the dirtiest, and smudged the most told me there was a recipe I had made over and over. I decided to give it a try once more and found the butter cookie recipe I so remembered from my childhood.

And I am happy to report that this turned out exactly the way I remembered them. They were like biting into a piece of the past and the warm cookies fresh from the oven were some of the best I have had in years. Consequently, that busted my theory on the ingredients today not being like they were 25 years ago. To sooth my bruised ego every time something did not turn out exactly the way I remembered it, that is what I have claimed was the cause. However, this weekend I could not say that at all.

So, I have come to the conclusion, that me being home alone this weekend, with no interruptions, no one poking a spoon in the bowl to see what is being made, no distractions at all was the difference in my baking one of my old time favorites. It almost took me back to when I was younger and would be the only one home, in the kitchen alone and turning out recipes right and left that were wonderfully delicious. At least, that is the only logical explanation I have at this moment.

Let me tell you, I was so impressed with these cookies and how they turned out I decided to go out on a limb and make another favorite dish my grandmother made when I was a little girl. This recipe was lost years ago, but the internet is a wonderful thing and as I searched for something similar, all of a sudden, the recipe started coming back to my memory.

Would you believe, this was the best tasting meal I can remember having in a long time. The sheer taste and smells in my kitchen on Sunday took me back to the days in my grandmothers kitchen all those years ago and a little girl who stood at the stove as her grandma made the most delicious meal that was always a favorite. I had forgotten how wonderful it smelled, tasted and how much love came from my grandma's kitchen. Isn't it great how a food can take you back to the places that are forever etched in your heart.

This Take Me Back Tuesday is all about the food and being able to achieve success with some of the vintage recipes of yesterday. It is about not being able to blame ingredients of today on my unsuccessful attempts in the recent past in making them. It is about realizing that maybe I need to slow down, and enjoy being in the kitchen without distractions, husbands, internet or television to keep me from being focused. It is about remembering wonderful things from the past and rediscovering them today and feeling a connection from long ago. It is about me having the courage to try that recipe again for the pound cake I so have a craving for. It is about having hope and faith.

P.S. I will share these recipes with you in the future, but I did not have the camera in the kitchen with me, and took no pictures at all....ahem....no camera in the kitchen....that may be another distraction I should have listed above......just sayin'


  1. They look delicious to me. And being homemade is always the best. Have a great day....Julian

  2. Even at 7:21 am, those cookies look delicious! We've been talking about old recipes here lately. I'm definitely looking forward to baking some of my Grandmother's cookies this Christmas. I made her chocolate sauce recently and was moaning about the quality of the corn syrup that is available here today, but in the end the sauce turned out just fine. If it wasn't exactly the same as she made, you wouldn't know it by the empty bowls of ice cream at our table. This was a great post - thanks for sharing. BTW I shared the sauce recipe in a post on Sept 4th if you're interested.

  3. Great post, Suzanne. I love the old cookie jar and cups. They remind me of our kitchen at home. We always made instant coffee, usually Maxwell House or Tasters Choice. We would put on the water in the tea kettle, get the coffee and milk in the cups then go sit back down to watch our favorite show and wait for the water to boil. It was me, Mom and Dad and we would take turn who would get up to make the coffee as we didn't want to miss anything on the show. No DVR's back then! Your cookies look yummy!

  4. I have another theory. Things just don't taste like they use to back in the childhood days no matter what you do with the recipe. It's the moment, the kitchen, the maker and the place that add something unique to it's taste. And when you surrounded yourself with "thrift store treasures that were exactly like the ones that once belonged to family" you managed to restore that taste uniqueness.
    How about that for a theory?

  5. What a wonderful, nostalgic post!! I hope you'll make the poundcake soon---that was my own Saturday baking, almost every week of my teens. I, too, hope that the memories haven't grown in stature and taste, and that the old recipe will turn out the same.

    Looking forward to your other BACKWARD adventures!

  6. The cookies look wonderful. Vintage recipes are the best!

  7. It's hard to go back, but not impossible!! Glad this recipe turned out. Looking forward to that pound cake!

  8. Great post!! Looking forward to seeing your recipes and the pound cake especially!!
    I had a great pound cake recipe that I gotwhen I was in junior high school; which I got from my German language teacher. I had the recipe for years,my best friend and I used to make it often. I was thinking about that pound cake a few months ago and realized I hadn't made it (or seen the recipe) in about 20 years. I went searching at my mom's house (I never made a copy for myself when I moved away from home) but have not found it yet. :-(

  9. This is a great post Suzanne. It sounds like you have been a great baker all your life. It is very rare that something I bake turns out right. I think it is because I'd rather cook than bake. But I had to laugh about the smeared pages. I have the same thing in my cookbooks...I think they are tears! ;-D


  10. I think you may have hit on something. I had never really thought about it before but just being able to concentrate and enjoy what you are doing is key.

  11. Oh my gosh those look fantastic!!!! I love butter cookies! So glad you found time to remake your recipe. YUM

  12. Ummmm! That makes me want a cookie. Some of those pics looked like I could just reach out and take one, too. Lane

  13. I have memories about dinners mom cooked - and she was the best cook - that are etched into my brain...once in a while something will remind me of it, and take me back to the day....Wonderful post my dear!

  14. Reminds me of all the things my Mum used to cook when I was a kid. Why dont they taste the same way when I make them?

    Magic Mum dust I think...

  15. I love old recipes. I remember the place and time when I enjoyed them - my first shrimp cocktail on a tv tray at my gramma's (the same gramma that had salt cellars on her Thanksgiving table, anyone remember those?) and tomato soup and grilled cheese on Saturdays with my mom and brothers. The thousand island dressing in a canning jar that I have never found my grandmother's recipe for and the delicious breaded pork chops she brought me after the birth of my daughter.


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