The other day, I was frantically searching through my recipe box (which is an embarassing disaster, but that's a story for another day) in search of what I was planning to make for dinner, when I came across an index card labelled 'Granddad's Shortbread Cookies'.
I stopped what I was doing, looked it over and put it aside. Not the kind of put it aside that you do when you're finished with something and are now moving on, but the kind of put it aside where the wheels are turning in my head. I was thinking, I can make these.
Before I go on, here's where I have to retract a statement I made here on this blog almost four years ago. At that time, I was pretty emphatic in the statement "I don't bake." I didn't like doing it and so I didn't. Any yummy home-baked treats in my house were always courtesy of Ryan.
But times have changed -- and so have I. Four years ago, I was still a new mom. Now I'm a stay-at-home mom of two. Now, I enjoy baking, sort of. The sort of is that it's something I enjoy doing with the kids. It's an activity we do together -- taking turns measuring, pouring, mixing, scooping and finally watching whatever it is we've just made, baking in the oven. The idea of baking up a storm all afternoon, or in the evening after the kids go to bed, is not something that appeals to me (late-night cooking, yes, baking, not so much). But baking with the kids is fun.
So this year, for the first time ever, I started Christmas baking. And I started a little over a week ago. So far we have plain ol' chocolate chip cookies and magic squares in the freezer just waiting for Christmas.
I had already been thinking of shortbread as our next baking adventure, and when I saw my granddad's recipe, I just knew I had to try it.
When I was growing up, every Christmas my granddad would bake up dozens and dozens of shortbread cookies. And he always made sure that us kids ate many more than my parents knew about while we were visiting. They melted in your mouth and were the best cookies I ever had. Every year, we all looked forward to eating these cookies. And I'm pretty sure he enjoyed making them just because we all enjoyed eating them so much.
My granddad died a little over 10 years ago.
But sometime since then (or maybe it was before then, I don't remember) I copied down the recipe while visiting my grandmother. I don't know why I copied it down, because I didn't bake. But I did. It's a super simple recipe, it just always seemed so difficult because the idea of baking in general was difficult for me.
So today after lunch, the kids and I set out to make granddad's shortbread cookies. We measured and poured the ingredients, mixed it all up, rolled out the dough and cut out Christmas shapes (with my newly-bought Christmas cookie cutters). After the first batch was done, I baked the second batch as plain old circles, just like my granddad used to do.
A lot has changed since I ate way too many shortbread cookies as a kid, but when I tasted the first one that the kids and I had made it felt like some things never change.