My grandmother died the day after Christmas, last year. She was 99. What she left behind:
a patchwork quilt that my great aunt Myra made (I think my grandmother bought it from her–which is funny. My grandmother worked in a factory and my aunt Myra was loaded.)
a corner hutch
about 20 ceramic figurines
a massive amount of teddy bears
some very classy looking pajamas
assorted classy looking clothing
a few candy dishes
pictures of her family
video cassettes including “It’s a Wonderful Life”
a few recipes written in a little book, about 4 inches by 6 inches
I inherited: 1 ceramic dog, 1 glass dog, and a cow missing a horn. Assorted stuffed bears. A recipe for gingerbread.
This time in December, my grandmother’s closet would have been packed with old sweater boxes stuffed with about 15 kinds of Christmas cookies between layers of tissue paper. Nobody made gingerbread like my grandmother. The only thing is, she couldn’t be bothered say, if she wrote something down not quite right, because she knew what it was–she always made the same gingerbread and she knew she wrote down 4 cups of flour instead of 2 because she wrote it. I know she wrote 4 cups of flour instead of 2 because she wanted to double the recipe–but she didn’t double everything. She probably had somebody over, eating the cookies when she was writing the thing down. The trick is, certain things were doubled and certain things were not.
I figured it out, and baby they’re good.
Grandma Evelyn’s Ginger bread men.
4 cups of flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger (make sure it’s good)
1 teaspoon of allspice
1 teaspoon of cinnamon (I added this)
2 teaspoons of baking soda
1 cup soft unsalted butter
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons of corn syrup
1/2 cup of light molasses
Sift the dry ingredients together. Make a well. In the well, beat with your hand, the butter with the sugar and then add the eggs. Beat again. Add molasses and corn syrup. Combine everything. Refrigerate for at least an hour. Roll out with a big bowl of cookie cutters and a little knife to carve out what you want, in case you don’t have the right cutter.
Mix a little water with enough 10X sugar to make a slightly stiff frosting (needs to come through the tube, but you don’t want it to by runny.) I add a drop of vanilla. Make a pastry tube with wax paper or parchment and pipe on the faces and clothing. Don’t restrict yourself to what people expect.
Merry Christmas. With love from me and my grandma.