The new year always gets me thinking about past years and how far I’ve come. This year I got thinking about my Memere, who passed away from Alzheimers in 2006 a few months before I graduated college. She was an amazing woman who spoke English and French. Maine French, not Parisian French, and it was her first language. She often said things in double though not a stutter, and with an adorable accent. She was an incredible seamstress, a gardener, a stay at home mother to four boys, conservatively dressed but funny as heck, a cribbage player, a baker, a cook, an amazing wife for over 50 years who walked 3 miles every single morning with my Pepere, a loving mother, a spitfire, a “show your love with food” kind of lady, subtly sassy, a believer in God more than anything else, and a confidence builder. We grew up about 5 hours away from her, but I always looked forward to visiting her. My cousin Lisa and I would hide under her sewing table in our “cave” play with her buttons and read books together while the wood-stove was roaring. Stories have it that after she passed away and my Pepere stopped his daily walking routine people’s schedule all over town got messed up. They knew when they saw D&L it meant it was time to get the kids up, get the coffee on, get in the shower, get to work, or whatever it was that needed to be done at the precise minute they went by everyday.
One of my favorite memories was walking in to the smell of freshly baked warm sugar cookies. These weren’t just any sugar cookies, they were huge, and fluffy as all get out, chewy but still with a nice crisp on the outside.
In other words, they were absolutely fantastic. To this day I, and no one else I know of, has ever made them the same. It’s one of my life goals to find a way to recreate them so my kids and grand-kids can experience them too. Her cookies were at least double the size of the ones below, and about twice to three times as high. My mouth waters and I still smile when I think of them, even though I haven’t eaten them in almost 8 years.
I’m going to keep on trying to recreate these. Once I do, I’ll share the recipe with you.
Until then, I’ll keep making them like this—from the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook, but subbing half to a quarter of the butter for vegetable oil. I do it because it helps keep them soft long after they cool.
Also, until then I’ll keep eating them like this. Okay, I might even eat them like this long after I get the recipe right.
I bet Memere would have approved.
I miss her a lot, I think we all do. She’s was a strong bond in the family. I’d like to think if we could sit down and talk now as two women I would find out we were a lot alike. She taught me a lot, more in the last 6 months of her life than she will ever know. She also called that I would marry Andy. We got engaged years later while I was wearing her sweater and in the parking lot of the mill she had worked at as a teenager. I didn’t know this until after it happened. She will always have my heart.
Here’s to keeping family traditions alive and the stories they bring with them, no matter how long it takes to get it right.