There's more where that came from
December 15, 2009
Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. I spent the evening baking up a storm — carrying on old traditions and getting going new ones and what a humdinger of a good time it was. The kids helped, and we made reindeer balls and rum truffles, almond bark squares and sugar cookie cutouts dough for baking later. We made a batch of fudge and a pan of toffee and I contemplated anise candy and am still contemplating. The house smelled so good and everything looked and tasted just delicious.
After the kids went up to bed, I still had some energy in me and figured I'd give my Grandma's Lape cookies a whirl. She'd made them every year of her living days as I recall, and Lord, Almighty, were they popular — all molassesy and chewy. She's been gone a few years now and to bring her back to me I thought, with candlelight and Christmas music, I'd give her handwritten recipe a whirl.
Easier said than done. I got through most of the recipe just fine, but she wasn't around to ask exactly how do I grind up the raisins which had soaked in water and the nutmeats. It seems she'd used a meat grinder, so I figured a blender would do the trick. I poured the nuts and raisins in and hit "Blend." Well, that was interesting. I had to stop and start a good thirty times before things seemed blended, but then my blender started to smell funny and there was the issue of getting the goo OUT. I tried a spatula and then a scraper and ended up using my hands.
After getting the stretchy mess all mixed together in a bowl, I noticed the mix had to rest two days in the fridge, so in it went and that was a relief. Short-lived, of course, when on Sunday I found the dough had nearly doubled in size and taken over the bottom shelf of the refrigerator.
I'd no idea the recipe was so large. I spent most of Monday afternoon rolling out the stretchy dough and cutting out triangles and circles and stars and pressing a nut into the middle before baking just like Grandma did.
Sometime around 7 p.m. Monday I pulled the last sheet of Lape cookies out of the oven and set them out to cool. I untied my apron, threw it into the hamper, and, yes, I poured myself a shot of whiskey. I gotta give the woman credit. She made these godforsaken cookies year after year and made it look easy and never once uttered an obscenity. She simply handed us grandkids a plate of cookies and smiled and told us, "There's more where that came from."
I now have just under 500 Lape cookies to share with friends and family for the holidays. Most are chewy, some are crispy, and it's a recipe I think I'll store away for a few more years or until I run out of cookies — whichever comes first. In the meantime, I'm reminded once again of my dear grandma, of what she brought to our lives, of the timeless importance of comfort, and joy.
Here's an amazingly simple recipe you can make with the
kids in a very short time. Careful, though. They're like potato chips —
you eat one and you might as well tape the whole bag to your butt.
Almond Bark Squares
1 large box Wheat Thins crackers
1 jar creamy peanut butter
24 oz almond bark
Various holiday cookie decors
In large, shallow bowl, melt almond bark in microwave according to directions.
Spread peanut butter on a Wheat Thin; top with another Wheat Thin.
Using a fork, dip "sandwich" in almond bark and flip over, being sure all sides
are coated. Place on foiled sheet or wax paper. Sprinkle with nonpareils or
festive decors. Let dry until bark is set.