Love You. Granny.

There are a lot of types of love in the world.  All of them special in their own way, but nothing–NOTHING–is better than the love you get from your grandparents.  I feel love from my parents, but it is nothing compared to the love that I see them display with my nieces.  It’s more than just love–it’s unconditional adoration. 

I am a very lucky person in that I had both of my grandmothers for 39 years; more impressive is that they both lived nearly 94 years and were both healthy until about a year ago. I see so much of myself in both of them, and for that I am so very thankful.  Perhaps I’m just lucky to have such amazing grandparents, but I don’t think that’s quite it either–I knew a lot of my friends’ grandparents and they were pretty darn special too (Grandpa & Grandma and Nanny, I’m looking at you!!!)

Just over a week ago, I lost my Granny.  She was truly the most amazing person I know (that’s not a dis on anyone else in my life, btw, my Granny was just that amazing).  She always had a smile, something sweet for you to eat, and always, always ended every conversation with “love you.”  She taught me how to bake and impressed upon me that the most important ingredient for baking is love.  She made awesome pies, kept in her freezer no less than six different types of cookies (every grandchild’s favorite), her cream puffs were divine, and her bread, well, if I close me eyes and concentrate, I can almost smell the daily loaf of bread baking in the oven.  But it was her smile that was the most amazing.  It was warm and it was always genuine. 

A few hours before her 94th birthday, the nursing home called to say that she was struggling to breathe and that perhaps someone wanted to come sit with her.  I can never thank them enough.  Momma, Teresa, and I held her hands, told her we loved her, said a few prayers, and let big, fat tears roll down our faces as she slipped quietly away from us.  It was truly the most beautifully heartbreaking moment I have ever experienced. 

But Granny wouldn’t want us to mourn.  Oh no, she was too practical for that.  She had a very long and very good life.  It wasn’t always sunshine and roses, but I believe that she made the best of it and all the while made everyone feel like they were her favorite…but of course, we all know it was really me 😉

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ANZAC Bikkies

Ooohh!  Ooohh!  Super-special post today!  What makes this post so special you ask?  It’s written (well not this introduction, of course!) by April.  There are several things that come to mind when I think about ANZAC day, such as Dawn Service, Two-Up, poppies, and ANZAC bikkies to name a few.  The bikkies (aka cookies) are where April comes in.  IF a better than April’s ANZAC bikkie exists in the world, I have yet to experience it.  I’ve witnessed first hand the slight jealousy in Australians at the thought that a Yank could make their beloved treat better than they could.  Their jealousy is short-lived, mind you–usually by the second bite, at which point they just enjoy the delicious goodiness!

And now, ladies and gents, may I introduce the lovely and wonderfully fabulous April and her ANZAC bikkies:

If I am honest, Anzac biscuits were never a treat I had much when I was living in Aus; Tim Tams were my go-to for indulging. When I found myself stateside and wanting to bring in some homemade goods for my workmates to celebrate Australia Day, though, I knew there was no way I could make Tim Tams. So I searched online for some recipes I could do, and I found this one for Anzac biscuits. Fortune must have been smiling upon me because these bikkies are a hit wherever I bring them, and they are the number one requested treat from my coworkers.

Anzac biscuits first made an appearance during World War I. Australian wives, mothers, and girlfriends were concerned about how nutritious the soldiers’ rations were so they developed a recipe for a treat full of healthy ingredients like coconut and rolled oats. The components also did not readily spoil which allowed for the biscuits to remain edible after the long non-refrigerated transit to the frontlines. While normally a fan of cookies fresh from the oven, I actually find Anzac biscuits much tastier a few days after I baked them, which kind of ties in nicely with the end of my bikkie ramblings…

While preparing for my trip to Turkey in 2011, I got it into my head that it would be great if we could actually have some Anzac biscuits to eat when our group did our overnight vigil at the Gallipoli peninsula. So right before my departure I made two batches and packed them carefully in a place of honor in my suitcase for the long journey east. They survived intact, and several days into our excursion my travel companions were pleasantly surprised when I brought them out for Anzac Day. Sherry and I were the only Yanks on the tour so I think it was even more startling for everyone that the biscuits were delicious! I had more than one compliment that even in Australia they had not ever had such a tasty bikkie. So without further ado, here is The Recipe:

  • 1 cup rolled oats (NEVER quick oats)
  • 3/4 cups desiccated coconut
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 oz butter
  • 2 tbs golden syrup (I use Karo syrup)
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda (aka baking soda)
  • 1 tbs water (boiling)

Mix oats, flour, sugar, and coconut together. Melt syrup and butter together. Mix bicarbonate of soda with boiling water and then add to the melted butter/syrup. Add to dry ingredients. Place by 1 tablespoonfuls on greased tray and allow room for spreading. Bake for 20 minutes at 300F (150 C). The yield is around 3 dozen depending on the size of your scoops.

That is the recipe I acquired from Aussie-Info.com more than 10 years ago. I haven’t made any modifications to it–why mess with perfection?–though you can get a fabulous treat using brown sugar instead of white. I can’t decide which one I like more so I always just make one batch of each. So happy baking, and remember, it’s always a biscuit and never a cookie!

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tasty enough to eat as is!

 

what a difference the sugar makes!

what a difference the sugar makes!

nom nom nom!

nom nom nom!

Oi Vey, What A Day!

Day One of baking is complete.

We got off to a very rocky start, in which I learned what happens to a tablet when a bottle of olive oil committed hari kari out of the cabinet, landing on aforementioned tablet. This is something that I did not need nor want to know and I certainly did not need to see it. After a few choice words and a full 30 minutes of pouting,  I took a big breath, acknowledged the damage was done and got to work.

Things were rocking and rolling, until I forgot to take a tray of Pupcicle cookies out of the oven in time. They were even too crispy to give to Addy.  I’m not sure who was sadder at that moment in time: ME for the lost time of rolling and cutting cookies only to have it be a complete waste or ADDY who watched helplessly as I threw an entire sheet of pupcicle cookies in the trash. All I’m going to say in my defense is that I thought I had pulled them out and they were happily cooling on the sheet. But as I pulled them out, I remembered I had left them in for a few more minutes..and apparently forgot to reset the timer. OOOPS! Addy only forgave me when I promised to make more tomorrow. Well, that and I gave her a cookie from the batch before…

As I’m about to make my everything cookies, I pulled out a new box of brown sugar and it was hard as a rock. I could hear Ome’s voice in my head telling me to add a slice of bread, but this wasn’t it’s-a-bit-hard-from-being-left-open. This was use-it-as-a-weapon-hard. So I walked down to the corner store to get more and, alas, they did not have any. I took it a sign that I didn’t need to make everything cookies and so it seemed like a good place to stop for the night.

All doughs are made and happily hanging out chillaxing in the fridge.  I even made some banana muffins since I spent the better part of the day starting at some very ripe bananas. All in all (tablet aside) it was a very productive day and I can’t wait to hand out all my goodies!!

Holy Pumpkin Cannoli, Batman!

As I’m pulling out the butter and cream cheese to soften,  I realize I forgot to mention THE most important cookies of all: pupcicle cookies!

Whew! Glad I remembered…and by “remember,” I mean that Addy reminded me. I mean, how else am I going to get her to pose for cute holiday poses,  such as this one?

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Without cookies,  those poor antlers stay on approximately 3 seconds (although with the cookies, it’s only about 10 seconds,  so you have to have your camera in the ready position!).

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And so,  without further ado (unless,  of course, I’m forgetting something else,  but I don’t think I am), I give you the real holiday baking list!

Menu (note: recipes with links on in the post prior to this one!)
Apple Pumpkin Pupcicle cookies
Sausage Balls
Sour Cream Cookies
Molasses Cookies
Rice Crispie Trees
Everything Cookies
Chunky Kisses

Stay tuned in case I forgot something else. In the meantime, all the Christmas movies are queued up and ready to go. But perhaps a bit more coffee is needed before recipe reading is required!

Happy baking ya’ll!

Let The Baking Commence!

Mmmmm…bacon! What? In my Texas twang,  baking and bacon are homophones.

Anyway,  I digress (as per usual when bacon is involved!).

BAKING! I have been generously bestowed the gift of time this holiday season, so I plan to take full advantage and get some long overdue baking finished this weekend. And, of course, by “finished” I mean doing everything but the shopping.

This year, here’s what Lucy and I will be creating:

Menu:

Molasses cookies

Sour Cream Cookies by Jillee at One Good Thing by Jillee

Chunky Kisses (this is a recipe that I’m creating–aka tweaking–because baking without creating a new recipe is just boring!)

Rice Crispie Trees (yes,  I said trees not treats!)

Everything cookies (probably… I’m still on the fence about these, but all ingredients are on hand just in case!)

Sausage Balls (because we gotta have something savory!)

So that’s it! And now I’m curious: what kind of treats are you making/hoping will be made as the countdown to Christmas continues?

Check out FB (Epicurious Texan), Twitter (@epicurioustexan), and Instagram (epicurioustexan) throughout the weekend for updates!