Today’s episode of daily dessert features a real treat, my grandmother’s pumpkin cookie recipe. I mentioned last week, in the post where I first tried out the pumpkin cookies, that I’d received from my grandmother an envelope full of old recipes, meticulously handwritten on yellowed slips of paper. My grandma found them at the thrift store where she volunteers in her hometown, Quincy, Illinois, and she sent them to me.
Only one of the recipes in the batch, however, was written out by my grandmother. All the rest of them must have belonged to someone else, but there is one, the pumpkin cookie recipe, that is unmistakably hers.
I can tell because some of the handwriting is next to impossible to read. She’s legally blind, or at least that’s what she tells us, so she makes us match up the socks when they come out of the dryer, we have to keep the lights low in the house during the daytime because she sees better in the dark, and reading her handwriting is an acquired skill. But we love her very much. And as her granddaughter, I can decipher the chicken scratch.
GRANDMA ROSE’S PUMPKIN COOKIES
1 cup sugar
1 cup butter or shortening
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup raisins, or nuts, or chocolate chips or coconut (all optional)
Preheat oven to 350. In a medium to large bowl, cream together the sugar and butter. Add 1 egg. Mix well. Add pumpkin and vanilla. Mix well. In a separate bowl, smaller bowl, sift together flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet. Add your choice of mix-in, or none at all. Bake for 20-30 minutes, depending on how soft or hard you like your cookies.
On Saturday night, after a Baldwins show and a Harvard Sailing Team show (my improv and sketch comedy groups, respectively), Kevin and I came home to the apartment and, around 12 midnight, spent a solid hour in our kitchen cooking and baking away. It was a lot of fun. Especially because we were doing it together. And because it was the middle of the night!
Kevin manages the lights and sound for Harvard Sailing Team, and occasionally for The Baldwins, so we were both pretty exhausted from performing/teching shows. But Kevin’s sister Lisa’s birthday was this weekend and we were planning to get out of the house on the early side the next morning to ride the train up to Rockland County and visit Kevin’s family. We’d decided to bring a sweet treat.
Once I started looking through the refrigerator, though, I realized that there were a handful of grocery items that were about to expire. And being that I’m on a mission to cook more at home, I couldn’t let that happen! So while Kevin baked the cookies all by himself (!), I got to work putting together some mashed potatoes and turkey burgers for us to save and have for lunch later in the week.
As a novice chef, I felt pretty pleased with myself for saving doomed ingredients from the garbage can.
And you can imagine I was even more pleased when I turned around to find Kevin practically done with the pumpkin cookies. He only needed my assistance on one or two occasions and I’m pretty sure those times were really just because he was trying to steal smooches.
He’s been my baking companion for Fanny & Jane, the bakery project my girlfriend Faryn and I began this past spring, more times than I can count. He’s saved my butt on a number of occasions, when I literally would not have been able to finish all my baking work before dawn if he hadn’t stepped in. What a guy. He really does know what he’s doing in the kitchen (even if I insist on backseat driving whenever he makes omelets).
The cookies turned out to be quite delicious. The batch I made last week was also very good, but we baked these for longer, so they were crunchier, which I prefer, I think. Also, I didn’t add chocolate chips last week, only coconut. But I like both.
Success! They were a huge hit at the family party. Even little Craig, Kevin’s 3 year old nephew, liked them a lot.
Stay tuned for ANOTHER wonderful dessert we experienced yesterday when we all sat down to the table together for Kevin sister’s birthday dinner. It’s a cake that happens to be one of Oprah’s favorite things! I’ll write about that later today.