I heard a rumor it’s already November. I’m not sure I’m speaking to November. However, I am leading with the topic for this month, so I’ll just have to get over it. The official topic is “From My Grandmother’s Kitchen.” This means that all our wonderful bloggers will be writing about some of their favorite foods, and sharing memories, along with one of Grandma’s favorite recipes.
Here’s my dilemma: oh, wait, you already read it in the title of this post. Maybe I shouldn’t have led with it. You may be wondering why Grandma had no recipes. Everyone uses a cookbook, or borrows recipes, right? She probably did, at one time or another, but by the time I came along, most everything Grandma made, she knew how to cook. She never used a recipe. She added a little of this and a pinch of that.
My grandma made the best biscuits ever. If you’ve read my Kinsman Redeemer series, or maybe just the first book, Annabelle’s Ruth, Cousin Thelma’s biscuits were like my grandma’s. They were big and fluffy. Toasty on the outside, moist on the inside. Is your mouth watering? Mine is!
I watched her make them. We all did. But no one could duplicate them. We’ve all tried, with no luck. She also made wonderful teacakes—an old-fashioned sweet biscuit-y cookie. I ate plenty of that cookie dough. As soon as Grandma turned her back, into my mouth went another lump. It was delicious, but no one could duplicate the recipe. She even tried writing that one down. We could get really close, but not quite. It was so disappointing.
Grandma was a plain cook. Kind of like Amish plain. She cooked the best vegetables–lima beans, corn pudding, grits and red-eye gravy. Yum! And her creamed potatoes were a-maz-ing. She even made a warm mashed potato version of potato salad, topped with sliced hard-boiled eggs. Delicious, but no recipe to be found, anywhere.
However, she could not create a meat dish unless it was fried. She fried steak. And nine times out of ten, her cakes came out burned, or dry. Her egg white frostings cracked. Sorry, but it’s true. We ate a lot of crumbled cakes, because nothing was wasted in Grandma’s kitchen.
The meringue for a lemon pie was a way to redeem herself. She made a lovely meringue, and the filling was scrumptious. Not me, I usually pile on the whipped cream. I’ve made meringue in the past, and it turned out pretty good, but I take shortcuts these days. She did, too, as time went on. An invention came along that changed her life. It was called “canned biscuits.” It set her free. From that day forward, we ate canned biscuits at Grandma’s house. It was heartbreaking. Such a sad waste of talent.
So, what recipe shall I share, since Grandma had no recipes? Well, I have a binder filled with all my favorite recipes, and guess what? I’m Grandma! So I’ll share one of mine.
Here’s the scene: You’re going to brother’s house for Thanksgiving, and sister-in-law asks you to bring a dessert. She’s a wonderful cook, and always has a gorgeous array of desserts, so you’re intimidated. This simple little cookie may save the day. They taste a little like a pecan sandie. Make a practice batch a few days ahead, just to get the hang of it. These are a hit, wherever I take them—almost as good as Grandma’s—but not quite.
Butter Pecan Cookies
¾ cup pecans
½ butter, room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
¼ cup (or less) confectioner’s sugar
- Spread pecans on a baking sheet and bake in 350-degree oven for 5-6 minutes to toast them. Remove and let cool completely. When cool, chop finely and set aside.
- Cream butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add vanilla extract and beat again. Slowly add flour and salt until completely combined.
- Mix in pecans.
- Use a medium cookie scoop to spoon out cookie dough (a regular spoon works fine). Roll dough into a ball. Roll the top of the ball in reserved sugar. Place sugar side up on an ungreased cookie sheet (I line them with parchment paper). Use a small glass to gently flatten cookies.
- Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 12-14 minutes, just until edges start to brown. Remove from oven and let cookies cool on baking sheet for 10 minutes before removing to racks to cool completely.
- After removing to racks, sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar.
Makes about 30 cookies.