Grandma Jane’s Sugar Cookies

by Mark on January 2, 2011

Brother Doug is a professional chef. His sauces explode in your taste buds. The chef faced his biggest challenge. Doug needed to mix all his skills and magic to replicate a special recipe, our late Grandma Jane’s sugar cookies.

Rose Jane Ryan Weber kept house half way between my home and school, St. Mary’s Our Lady of Perpetual Help Grammar Elementary. Grandma and her cookie jar was refuge from all of the problems social and educational problems faced by her chubby grandson.

St. Mary’s was a challenging environment for me. Dominican Nuns ran the school. At least one taught my Dad thirty years before me. I was a daydreamer, maybe A.D.D. by today’s standards, and a regular playground fighter. Both traits kept me in hot water with the good sisters, who punished me at school and called ahead for a second round of punishment at home. Grandma Jane was my calm before the storm.

I whined and wept about grades, teasing, fights, and punishment. Grandma Jane patiently listened, wiped my tears, and brought out her cookie jar. It was a mustard yellow clay oval with a fitted top and decorated by a red rooster. Grandma baked cookies for many grandchildren, some with nuts, and others with raisins. For me she made a special plain batch. The sugar and her secret ingredients were my elixir. Her hugs and understanding buoyed me. Whatever lay before me, the worst case was the next day with more hugs and cookies from Grandma Jane.

Chef Doug discovered the secret ingredient was sour milk, not easy with reduced fat and more pasteurization. Doug is determined. After many batches the addition of a little vinegar achieved perfection.

At a recent Weber holiday party the chef presented the famous cookie jar. Its rooster was a little faded, as some of us. Filled to the brim were huge round sugar cookies. The thin sugar-coated crust gave way to the thick and soft center. The familiar flavor pulled me back by decades. It tasted sweet. It tasted like love.

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