Recipes We Long For

Columbia County, New York  I  3 May 2018

This is a blog about Grannie’s Raisin-Filled Cookies. Or is it about Grandma’s Potato Salad? I’m not quite sure, I think it’s both. Let me explain.

My dear Aunt Phyllis and Uncle Max passed away in a car accident very recently. In our family’s Facebook group, we were talking about it, and offering our condolences to their immediate family, when Mykel, one of their granddaughters, asked if anyone had her grannie’s raisin-filled cookie recipe.

She said it was what her family needed to be comforted.

Well, I didn’t know anything about Aunt Phyllis making delicious raisin-filled cookies, since I lived across the country from her, growing up. But I thought I might be able to find her recipe, anyways.

I went immediately to my kitchen, and pulled an old cookbook down from the shelf over my sink, a pink, spiral-bound cookbook which my mom and her five sisters put together some time ago.

There were two raisin-filled cookie recipes in the book, but neither was attributed to Aunt Phyllis. I shared them on the Facebook group, anyways, along with two recipes from the internet, and the next day, out of curiosity, tried one from the family cookbook.

I remembered some years ago, purchasing a couple of this kind of cookie from Mrs. Backer’s Pastry Shop in downtown Salt Lake City, and then immediately wishing I’d bought more, because they just melted in my mouth.

Well, the cookies I made just didn’t seem right. The raisin filling seemed good enough, but the cookie part seemed too thick and tough. It was pretty disappointing. I guess I didn’t get them rolled out thin enough?

I put that recipe aside, and vowed to try again. Then, I got to thinking about it, and wondered if I could use pie crust instead of cookie dough, for a lighter, flakier feeling to the pastry part of the cookie.

So, the day of Uncle Max and Aunt Phyllis’s funeral, my father, two of my sisters, and many of my cousins, aunts, and uncles were gathered in Idaho for their joint funeral. I was able to see them before the funeral, briefly, on a Facebook video chat, courtesy of my thoughtful cousin, Kathy. Isn’t technology wonderful?

But here I was, by myself, in my little old red kitchen again, in New York, whipping up a batch of my favorite pie crust, cutting it into small circles with a glass, and then filling the cookies with a fragrant mixture of raisins, sugar, and spices.

I had high hopes. But these cookies didn’t turn out so great, either. Gah! I wasted a lot of flour, and I feel kinda bummed. So, for now, I’ve fallen back on my surefire recipes, with a slam dunk couple of loaves of Kona Inn Banana Bread, earlier this week.

But I’ll be waiting to see if any of Aunt Phyllis’s children or grandchildren find her actual recipe, and I surely hope when and if they do, they’ll share it with me…

Now, switching gears completely, to the Grandma’s Potato Salad part of my blog.

I belong to a Facebook group where the members share recipes, with only one requirement, they have to be hand-written, and not typed. It’s really fun to see old-fashioned recipe cards, and such a wide variety of handwriting styles.

I love seeing the dirty recipes, too, because you just KNOW they’re the really good ones.

One member of the group recently asked if anyone had a recipe for potato salad with a boiled dressing, which she fondly remembers her grandmother making.

I asked if the woman’s grandmother might have contributed it to a church or community cookbook, and she said no. Who knows, maybe the recipe was never written down, or was thrown away when her house was cleaned out, after she died?

Well, this online conversation has been going on for days and days now, with people guessing what might have been in the original recipe, posting links to other recipes, etc.

So, what’s the moral of my story? If one of your family members or friends has a recipe you REALLY love, one you’ll truly miss after he or she is gone, please beg and badger until you get it. And do it NOW.

Get it in the person’s own handwriting, too. If you live close enough to the person, help him or her make it a time or two, just to see how they do it. Lots of times people have techniques they don’t write down in the recipe, and I can think of nothing more wonderful than learning a new recipe, at the side of someone you love.

Life is very short, and recipes are a precious part of your family history.

What I wouldn’t give for my Aunt Janice’s Peanut Cookie recipe in her own handwriting…

To read about when Nettie thought her father had thrown away her mother’s recipes:

To read about how I’m starting to organize my mother’s recipes, as well as the recipes from my church women’s group (not to mention my own shambles of recipes):

To learn how to make Kona Inn Banana Bread:

To read about Mrs. Backer’s Pastry Shop, in Salt Lake City, Utah: