Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sandwiches and Santascones for Grandmama

Remember – with a little love, everyday things are fit for kings.

Show Grandmama you’ve been thinking of her. Surprise her. Make something special. Scones can be made ahead of time. Suppose Grandmama comes early and surprises you. Serve bread and butter sandwiches, tea or coffee.

Lovely Bread and Butter Sandwiches

Cut thin slices of bread. Use only the very best butter. Like the White Rabbit. But don’t put it in your watch like he did. Put it on the bread. Whip it first. So it will spread nicely.

Put two buttered slices together. Trim off the crusts. Cut from corner to corner. Place on square of foil. Wrap carefully. Make one for each person. Place on baking sheet in moderate over. About 10 minutes. Serve “gift wrapped” in foil.

Sift together 2 cups flour, 1 teaspoon salt, 5 teaspoons sugar, 3 teaspoons baking powder. With your fingertips (wash your hands!) rub 4 tablespoons butter into this. Beat 2 eggs, add ½ cup cream and pour into the flour mixture. Stir. On a lightly floured board, (did you wash your hands?) pat it out about ½ inch thick. Cut in fancy shapes. Brush tops with egg white.

Bake on cookie sheet in moderate oven 12 to 15 minutes. Serve with jam and marmalade.

Very good with spiced tea and gossip. Grandmama and Mother. Not you.

This recipe is an excerpt from my favorite holiday cookbook, A Child’s Christmas Cookbook, by Betty Chancellor, designed by Kay Obering and illustrated by Thomas Nast. It was published by the Denver Art Museum in 1964 in conjunction with an exhibit there. The recipes are all written in that spare, dry humorous way – and the pictures are totally charming. I can’t say the recipes are very contemporary, but it does give you a sense of how the Victorians might have celebrated.

I miss my grandmothers this time of year - it's something about the baking.
Lucy used to make these:

and Rose made pizzelles.

If you're baking anything fun right now - or if your grandma did -- I'd love to know about it!


Ronda Laveen said...

What a lovely, helpful and nostalgic post. Your grandmother knows she's missed, I'm sure. Mine taught me to make home made apple sauce for the holidays.

Patti Lacy said...

My mother and grandmother whipped up, literally, batches of divinity and fudge at Christmastime.

The mysterious drawers that held cooking thermometers and sifters and exotic (to a Texan) extracts of lemon and almond opened.

Luckily these women shared their cooking secrets with me, and I've shared them with my daughter. And so on, and so on...

Our kitchens always smell heavenly!
Love this blog!

Joanne said...

I love those old books, they have such a comforting charm, something we'll never get on an e-book, or on a Kindle :(

My daughter and I were looking for a Christmas dessert recipe and found one today, for a good old fashioned chocolate cake ... can't wait!

Talon said...

Oh, boy! Now I've got a hankering for tea and scones with a liberal dash of gossip! They look gorgeous!

My Mom (grandma and great-grandma to 17) is already bugging me because I haven't made the Hazelnut Rapsberry Thumbprints that she adores each Christmas, but it's on my to do list for Wednesday. And in exchange she makes her gorgeous mince meat tarts so we're both happy.

Baking and Christmas memories - they go together beautifully. Lovely post, JGH.

mayberry said...

I really, really don't want to go to my in-laws' for Christmas, but you just reminded me that they will have pizzelles. I feel a little better about the visit suddenly.

My grandmother always made pumpkin bars with cream cheese frosting, and thumbprints with red and green frosting. Maybe I'll take the recipes and make them at my MIL's.

Gail said...

None of the women in my family were cooks or bakers, I had to figure that out on my own. I cook, but don't bake. It's my husband who bakes. He makes the best Chocolate Whopper Cookies that everyone adores. gail

JGH said...

Ronda, wow! Fresh applesauce? with a little cinnamon? Heaven.

Patti, divinity! Now that is something from a bygone era. Not many people seem to make it these days. Great to pass these recipes down to the next generation.

Exactly Joanne. This book would never, never, never do on a Kindle. Have you ever made the chocolate cake on the Hershey's cocoa container? It's pretty good!

Talon, how nice of you to make cookies for your mom. Do you know the Irish tradition for mincemeat pies? I think you are supposed to eat 12 of them throughout the season for 12 months of good luck in the coming year.

Ok, Gail, must know more about the whopper cookies! Do they use the candy whoppers? (malted milk balls) At least the man who doesn't garden or blog knows his way around the kitchen!

JGH said...

Mayberry, I had no idea that pizzelles can make such a huge difference in the attitude toward ones inlaws. Important to remember for the future ;-)

Elephant's Eye said...

Those illustrations are intriguing. Step back in time. My mother (96) used to bake Christmas cake. Dark and full of fruit. Now my sister plays that role.

our friend Ben said...

Aaawww, bless your heart for this post, Jen! It's just lovely. I enjoyed the cookbook ref, too. Sadly, I don't remember either of my grandmothers ever baking. But my mama, bless her, went all out for the holidays: pecan pie, fudge, penuche, rum pie, chocolate yummy-rummies, bourbon balls, rahadlakhoum, fruitcake (gack), and many kinds of cookies. Not to mention homemade eggnog and boiled custard. Trust me, we didn't feel deprived! I really, really loved this post.

LazyMom said... grandmothers were not really cooks, but one did knit and make rag rugs and clothes pin dolls--all lost arts....
My mother also did not cook well, but she had a few special recipes from Fanny Farmer--peanut butter fudge, popovers and melt in your mouth sugar cookies....sigh

Pam J. said...

One grandmother made heavenly cinnamon buns (and I still have, and use, the bowl she used). I don't have her recipe, dang it, but this (the link below) looks close. Especially when I see that one bun has 920 calories! Yep, that would be my grandmother, who was born in 1889 and all her adult life had that nineteenth century big bosom look. No worrying about calories for her!

Anonymous said...

I was a little light on grandmothers growing up - but my mother made a whole boatload of treats and the kids and I have a few that we always make each December: fudge (easy Baker's chocolate recipe) - we found 2 candycanes - one completely pulverized to dust and one coarsely ground are the perfect addition, coconut swirls (they taste like mounds bars) are the two absolute musts, and truffles (again, easy, sweetened condensed milk and melted chocolate recipe) - these are our annual must makes.


JGH said...

Diane, fruit cake has gotten a bad rap, but I've had some very good ones. That's great that your sister has taken over for your mom and keeping the tradition alive.

Ben, I think I've read about your mother's baking on your blog- sounds like she was really into it. Must find out what radlakhoum is! Are you baking any of these (or boiling any custard!)?

Hilary, I made popovers in a muffin tin for the first time last year - they are surprisingly easy.
Curious - are any of your grandmother's rag rugs still in use?

Pam, I bet the bowl makes all the difference. I have some that my grandmother always served fruit in, and I swear fruit tastes better served in them! I had to laugh about the big bosom. They say that one of my great great grandmothers had a bosom so big she would put a loaf of bread on it to slice it. I bet yours did the same with the cinnamon buns.

Anonymous said...

How very sweet and so old fashioned! Imagine offering someone a butter sandwich nowadays. I would love it though, as the grandmama of the bunch now. Funny how that happens. No baking just yet, but soon, for my clan is coming to the Fairegarden this year. The first time in over ten. Hooray!

Anonymous said...

my paternal grandma made all sorts of fancy desserts and shortbread and almond cakes... she died when I was two, but luckily she taught my mom how to make all these fancy complicated desserts. my other grandma was not at all able bake or cook, so my mom had to learn as an adult from her mother in law.

AshKuku said...

I simply loved all those wonderful cookies...Very tempting & proves that Christmas is around the corner....

Kindly collect the cheers - cheer leading blog...from my post

Happy Celebrations!!!!


Guinnah said...

what a great post - I didn't really know either of my grandmothers. I've been craving the mini vanilla bean scones from starbucks - I wonder if an addition of some vanilla (and maybe some vanilla bean) would get me there with this recipe?

JGH said...

Frances, I was marvelling too over the "luxury" that a bread and butter sandwich seemed to be! I guess it was the novelty of gift wrapping it in foil that made it special.

Anon, I had to laugh about your mother in law teaching your mom to bake. The story is that my parents were not allowed to get married until my mom learned to make a proper Italian sauce.

Ash kuku, I get so much great cooking inspiration on your blog, too. Do you bake many sweets?

Guinnah, I saw some vanilla beans for sale in a department store yesterday. It was like $10 for 3 beans. I figure they must be for very special projects. I know what I'm getting next time I got to Starbucks ;-)

Karen said...

Love these memories of baking with grandmas. We are heavy into cookies this time of year - sugar cookies with sprinkle decorations (I have a million cutters but for some reason no Santa!?!), sometimes Swedish Pepperkakkar although not this year, I got tired of the rolling pin madness and flour all over the kitchen. My grandma was pretty good with pies, and her sisters were the real bakers in the family - everything from molasses cookies to fresh bread, huge pantries stocked to the gills every time we visited. I can still taste that stuff like it was yesterday!