Here it is: a recipe with a story.
The past couple of weeks, I’ve been scrolling through old family recipe collections. Recipes that are share-worthy are great, but for me there needs to be a little more besides a great set of ingredients. Sometimes it’s the “why” we make what we do.
My grandfather, my mother’s father, served in World War II. Sadly, he was one of the many that did not make it home.
My mom grew up with a strong, independent single mother. She had grandparents, aunts, and uncles in the area to keep her life full. Still, I can only imagine how many times she must have wished that her father had made it back. While it’s one of those situations you can say “builds character” and “makes you stronger,” the truth is that there was a sad void in her childhood. Fortunately, she was able to get married and have 4 children, which gave my brothers and me the life she dreamt of.
As I looked through my grandma’s old recipe box, my mom pointed out Dutch Butter Cookies. She said her Aunt Eva used to make them and send them to my grandfather while he was serving our country in World War II.
“Why didn’t grandma send them to him? It was her husband.”
“I don’t know. Aunt Eva was her sister and just sent these cookies to him because he loved them.”
This might be one of those times when I don’t understand because I don’t have a sister.
Anyway, the sentiment is truly amazing and something I can’t relate to. Baking cookies, boxing them up, and somehow shipping them to a soldier who is overseas defending our country. It’s nothing like me baking cookies for my kids to eat when they come home from school.
The thoughts that must have gone through her head as she put together the ingredients and got them ready to send off. The hope that he would get them and that it would help him remember that he was loved at home. The hope that he would know how desperately everyone prayed for his safe return. The fear and the what ifs that turned into reality.
Similar thoughts went through my head as I made these cookies for the first time. The wonder of what my grandfather’s life could have been like. The image of him diving into a box of these cookies. Did he share them? I’m sure he did. I don’t think he selflessly served for our country, then hogged all the Dutch Butter Cookies.
A hand written recipe card and a classic cookie somehow allow me to make a connection with my family’s history. That’s why cooking is so important to me. It creates a pathway to a story that I didn’t know and a glimpse into a life that I knew little about.
Corporal Charles T. Fibranz died in 1945 and received a Purple Heart Award. A story and a sacrifice that is not to be forgotten. Funny how an old cookie recipe can bring it all to life.
- 1 cup unsalted butter - softened
- 1 egg - room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 1/2 cups flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- Preheat oven to 300°.
- Cream butter and sugar. Beat in egg and vanilla.
- Sift flour, salt, and baking powder.
- Mix to combine wet and dry ingredients. It will be a little crumbly.
- Pat evenly into 11x14 jelly roll pan.
- For decoration, draw lines with a fork.
- Bake 30 minutes until light golden.
- Cut into bars while still warm.