The Below kids and the Hahn kids were the best of pals growing up. Our families were special friends, as close as family, but with a relationship that was better because we weren’t related. We kids got into a lot of mischief and had a lot of fun together, just as our folks did. Their adventures and great times most likely equaled ours.…. maybe.
Mrs. Below’s mother, who was known as Grummy, was a beautiful and classy woman. She always wore a skirt and heels and her snow-white hair was perfectly coiffed into a French twist. We adored her. She heated her potato chips before serving them and she also made these wonderful chocolate cake-like cookies. They are easy to make and I bet you have everything you need to make them in your cupboard. My little sister calls them tar cookies as they spread out on the cookie sheet and are a dark chocolate, so space them well apart on the cookie sheet before baking.
Grummy was making us these cookies one summer day, and we three girls were upstairs in one of the bedrooms of their grand, old lake home jumping up and down on the bed. We broke the slats and never told Grummy. Told ya, we got into a lot of mischief!
Our families celebrated Christmas day together for many years. I will always remember their friendship, all the delicious meals we shared together and the beautiful Christmas decorations in their home. They even had two Christmas trees! Mr. and Mrs. Below are gone now, but I have wonderful memories of them.
These cookies are made to enjoy right now, while you plan your annual holiday baking marathon and just can’t wait to eat a cookie.
Grummy’s Chocolate Drop Cookies
Pre-heat oven 300 degrees Fahrenheit
1 cup light brown sugar
½ cup butter, room temperature
2 squares Baker’s brand unsweetened baking chocolate, melted
½ cup buttermilk or sour milk
1½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup nutmeats chopped
¼ teaspoon salt
With electric mixer, cream together brown sugar and butter until fluffy. Beat in egg, then melted chocolate.
Sift flour, baking soda and salt together.
Add nuts to sifted flour mixture.
With mixture on low, alternately add buttermilk or sour milk and flour mixture to butter, sugar, egg, chocolate mixture ending with flour. Incorporate each addition in gently, until blended.
Drop by tablespoons onto greased cookie sheet with plenty of room between each cookie as they spread.
Bake in 300-degree oven about 15 minutes.
Let cookies cool a bit on cookie sheet before removing to wire rack.
Tip: Cool cookie sheets before baking another batch.
Frost with your favorite vanilla or chocolate frosting.
Heritage Vanilla Frosting
A cooked frosting traditionally made to frost red velvet cake. It’s not too sweet and has a wonderful smooth texture. Try switching it with additional flavorings, such as almond extract or a dash of hazelnut liquor.
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Add the milk, flour and salt to a medium sized saucepan and whisk until smooth.
Cook over medium heat whisking mixture constantly until it thickens and just begins to boil, about 5 minutes.
Remove from heat and let cool 10 minutes until mixture is warm. You don’t want it to be too hot when you incorporate it into the butter and sugar mixture or it will melt the butter.
With electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add vanilla extract.
Add the warm milk, flour and salt mixture one spoonful at a time beating until frosting gets airy and smooth.
Spread frosting onto cooled cookies. Enjoy with a cold glass of milk, preferably in Grummy’s kitchen.
I’m always on the look-out for yummy appetizers and dishes to pair with main courses, especially when they include two of my favorite things: bread and cheese. You can’t miss with this savory, buttery and cheesy bread.
Savory Swiss Mushroom Bread
1 loaf (1 pound) Italian bread, or sturdy white bread such as Como or Pugliese.
1 8-ounce block of Swiss cheese, cut into small cubes
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
¼ cup butter, cubed and softened
1 small mild onion, finely chopped or 1/3 cup green onion sliced
1 ½ teaspoons poppy seeds
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon seasoned salt, such as Johnny’s or Lawry’s
½ ground mustard
½ teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon herbs de Provence blend dried herbs (optional) Any kind of herb would be nice to add; dill or rosemary, tarragon, etc.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Cut bread diagonally into 1-inch slices stopping within 1 inch of bottom of loaf.
Repeat cuts in the opposite direction.
Place cheese cubes and mushroom slices into cuts.
Combine microwave-safe bowl covered. Microwave on high 30-60 seconds until butter is melted. Stir until blended.
Spoon over bread.
Wrap loaf in foil; place on a baking sheet. Bake until cheese is melted, about 40 minutes.
One last quick and easy recipe for a cookie.
1 box of Angel food cake mix
½ cup water
1 ½ teaspoons almond extract
Mix together with electric mixer.
Fold in 2 cups shredded sweetened coconut.
Bake 10-12 minutes on parchment paper lined cookie sheets at 350 degrees.
Happy baking and memory- making! I’ll be looking forward to sharing more recipes and holiday stories with you next week.