Monday, October 31, 2011

Ode to Mrs P

My best friend in college was lucky enough to have a mom who was a home-ec teacher. Actually it turned out to be lucky for me too. On the weekends, we would make the 30 mile trek from Wellesley to Whitinsville.  Getting off the campus would have been good enough.  We were starving for family love and a home cooked meal. Mrs P. would feed us the way only a home-ec teacher can; like a domestic goddess who has made a career out of teaching others to provide comfort.  She is the kind of woman that you meet in your young adulthood who you can model your own motherhood after.

I'm grateful for many memories with Kim's family, not only food related. But being sisters in our Italian blood (and sarcasm, among other things), Kim and I shared that strong connection between food and family memories.

There are so many recipes that I could post from Mrs P.  But one that always sticks out in my mind is the sugar cookies. Everyone makes cut-out sugar cookies for Christmas, but Mrs P. made them all year round.  My strongest memory is in the above form: orange pumpkins. (The above were frosted by my children last night.) Sometimes we would enjoy them out at the house, and other times they were delivered to us in ziploc bags, like the drugs that other students had delivered.  We had cookies.  My priorities haven't changed much. 

These cookies are meant to be soft and frankly not that sweet.  Just enough to be called a cookie.  But then the frosting takes care of that. It's a perfect balance. 

In 2008, ten years after I had graduated, I emailed her for this recipe. She signed the letter 

          Have fun making the cookies and building fun memories.
                    Love, Mrs. P
Even though you don't have her smile and hugs to remember, you won't be disappointed by these. 

courtesy of Mrs P

½ cup butter, softened
½ cup shortening
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
3 ½ cup flour
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
1 ½ tsp vanilla

Cream together butter, shortening, and sugar in large bowl. Add eggs and vanilla. Combine flour, cream of tartar and soda in medium bowl. Add to creamed mixture and stir well. Batter will be stiff. Chill dough at least 3 hours or overnight. Work dough half at a time (leave other half in refrigerator) by rolling out to ¼” thick and cutting with cookie cutter. Bake on ungreased sheet in a 400* oven for 6-8 minutes, time will depend on size of cookies. Arrange similar size cookies on same sheet; do not bake large and small cookies on the same sheet as the small ones will burn before the large ones are done.


1 stick butter
4 cups confectioner’s sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3-4 tbl milk (add more if necessary)

Mix until smooth.

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