Let's make cookies. Whaddya say?
These are old-school cookies. They were my grandmother's recipe, and to this day they're my dad's favorite. They require rolling out, and making filling, so compared to drop cookies they take a little more time... but the end result is so worth it.
That's something my grandma was good at: waiting for things to unfold. From my memories, limited to the first 9 years of my life before she died, she was good, and kind, and loving, and incredibly patient.
When she smiled, the world lit up. When she hugged me, and said "There's my girl," I knew I was the most special, most loved, most cherished child in the world.
When I asked her how much she weighed, and she gently said "You don't ask a lady her weight," I inferred there was a difference between a woman and a lady, and categorized Grandma as a lady of the highest order. I never asked her again.
My mother was just 30, and I was only a baby, when her own parents were killed by a drunk driver. Mom loved her mother-in-law so much that she allowed her to help fill the void left by their sudden passing. And Grandma helped my mother, and even "adopted" my mom's sister and called her "my other daughter-in-law." I wonder how Grandma knew what to do to give them comfort in that dark time. She did, though. That's the kind of person Grandma was.
She was Midwestern to her core; she loved well, worked hard, laughed often, put her family first, lived simply. As my dad says of his mother "She was so smart. God, she was smart." She raised four outstanding children who proved capable of great successes.
My mom sometimes tells the story of confiding in my grandma that she was concerned about my quiet ways, which was an oddity in a family as boisterous as ours. As Mom tells the story, Grandma just smiled and said "Still waters run deep."
I still send thanks to her for that. My mom was able to give me the space to become myself, and I have to think she did so gracefully in some small measure because she was reassured by Grandma's simple phrase, revealing an insight as broad and high as the sky.
And just in case you were wondering how that turned out, now I am as loud and outspoken as everyone else in my family. Almost. Nobody beats my sister. (Love you, Bhan!)
For all those reasons, and a million more, Cabbage and I named our beautiful daughter after my grandmother.
I'm not asking you to name your firstborn after her, but I do think you should make her cookies. You'll definitely enjoy their flaky pastry crust and the sweet, soft fruit filling. They're made of simple ingredients, take a little time and care, and come from the files of one of the best people to ever grace this green earth.
Listen. Just make 'em next time you want something akin to an oatmeal cookie.
They're Date-Filled Oatmeal Cookies.
Start your filling on the stove, then measure some dry ingredients, mix, and cut in butter.
Roll out and cut the dough...
Spoon on the filling and cover with more dough.
Bake and eat.
Hmmm... that wasn't so hard after all. And they're so, so good. They'd have to be, or they wouldn't have been Grandma's.
Date-Filled Oatmeal Cookies
1 c sugar
1 pkg pitted dates, chopped
1 c water
1/2 t vanilla
1 1/2 c flour
1 1/2 c quick-cook oatmeal
1 c brown sugar
1 t baking soda
2 t baking powder
4 T milk
3/4 c shortening
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a small saucepan, combine sugar, dates and water. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened and dates are very soft. Cool and add vanilla.
Meanwhile, make cookie dough by mixing dry ingredients, then add milk. Using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut in shortening. Add more milk 1 T at a time to get a workable dough. On a heavily floured board, roll dough flat. Flour the rim of a cookie cutter or drinking glass and cut dough into circles. Using a floured spatula, carefully move dough to an ungreased cookie sheet. Place 1 t of filling on each circle of dough, fold over (for a round cookie, place another circle of dough on top). Using your fingers or a fork, press the sides to seal.
Bake for 10-12 minutes. Allow to cool several minutes on the cookie sheet, then remove to a cooling rack. Enjoy!