This post was supposed to be about cookies. My Grandmother’s Icebox Cookies. But in the process of looking for a (as in one) picture of her to go with the recipe, I found myself spending the morning digging through hundreds of photos and remembering countless special moments from a childhood filled with them.
There are so many things that make me think of my grandmother. I lost her almost 30 years ago but rarely a day goes by that she isn’t with me. She was such a big part of my childhood and I have so many precious memories associated with her. She truly was my very first best friend.
She was a wonderful lady and a good cook. The queen of the baked ham and Jello mold. A simple cook and not an overly confident one but her meals were always delicious, often prepared fresh from my grandfather’s incredible garden. My grandparents are the reason I didn’t know kids weren’t supposed to like vegetables. What is better than a carrot pulled straight from the ground and washed off with the garden hose? Not much.
There is so much I remember about my grandmother. She was fastidiously neat, clean and tidy bordering on germ-a-phobic. How many times did I hear from the neighboring stall in a public restroom, “YOU’RE NOT SITTING DOWN ARE YOU?” In fact, the current state of my kitchen floors probably has her begging the Lord Himself to allow her 10 minutes in my kitchen with a mop and bucket. I’m also pretty sure she deserves at least some of the credit for my freakishly strong quads.
She was a lady and very proper but also funny with perfect timing, grace and poise. She never missed a beat. At least that is how I remember her. I remember how beautiful and pulled together she always looked. I also remember the nighttime routine of face cream, curlers and a foam/net hair wrap that were all paramount to her being fabulous the next day.
I remember getting dressed up to go downtown and visit my grandpa at the bank where he worked as head of maintenance and then to lunch at the Crescent – a fancy department store with a wonderful cafe. Back in those days, you did not go downtown in black yoga pants and flip-flops; at least not in my grandmother’s world. Heck, I still don’t go downtown in black yoga pants and flip-flops and I go everywhere in black yoga pants and flip-flops. I’m a mom. In Arizona.
This picture is from one of our trips downtown where I was dressed to meet Santa in my taffeta skirt, lace tights and a beautiful butter yellow poncho and hat grandma had knit for me. How I cherished those outings with her. What I wouldn’t give for just one more.
I remember how she would rub my forehead as I was falling asleep and how she sat and rocked me first thing each morning even when I no longer fit comfortably in her lap and the tips of my toes were starting to just brush the floor.
I miss her. I don’t think I realized how much until just this moment.
I’m sure by now you are wondering how all of this ties into cookies and where the promised recipe is. My grandmother may not have been Julia Child in the world of savory but when it came to baking, she was in her element. I spent a lot of weekends with my grandparents and I remember my grandmother always having a “little something” awaiting my arrival. I remember the chocolate cake with white frosting she made so often because it was my dad’s favorite; and the cherry pie that was mine. I remember the amazing birthday cakes she made and decorated especially for me. Doll cakes, a horse cake, a beautiful yellow layer cake covered in handmade sugar flowers. All made with so much love and care for the sole purpose of making me feel special.
At Christmas what I remember most were the delightful “spritz” cookies she made. Delicate perfect little cookies in the shape of trees, wreaths and stars beautifully decorated with holly leaves and berries. And I remember her Ice Box Cookies. The ice box cookies that started this whole post and the flood of memories that has come with it.
A week or so ago, In my preparations to get started on some Christmas cookie baking, I sought out a recipe I had discovered earlier on a wonderful blog called Piping Dreams. When I went back to the blog and found the recipe I was looking for, Fresh Cranberry, White Chocolate and Sea Salt Shortbread, I read through the comments and saw that another lady had asked about a recipe she’d been trying to find for quite some time. A recipe for “Refrigerator Cookies”, which sounded almost identical to my grandmother’s Ice Box Cookies that I remember from Childhood. I hadn’t thought about them in so long and had never actually made them myself. I did a little digging and found the recipe and went back and shared it in the comment section in the hope that it might be what she had been looking for.
And then I made a batch myself. With my grandmother standing right there next to me in my kitchen on my floors that are so in need of her attention. My rushed and busy spirit so in need of her attention. I don’t know if they were what that particular lady had been looking for but they were just what I had been looking for.
Seeing those cookies on the tray after baking was like looking through the eyes of my six-year-old self. They were just as I remember. They tasted just as I remember. A little bit of my Childhood recaptured through a recipe for a simple cookie. I will make them every Christmas from now on and I will think of my grandmother and remember how much she loved me and what she meant to me.
My Grandmother’s Ice Box Cookie Recipe
shown above nestled alongside
Fresh Cranberry, White Chocolate and Sea Salt Shortbread from Lauren at Piping Dreams.
Oh, I also remember how she put my grandpa’s whiskey into a musical decanter that would chime out and alert her every time he poured a drink. Sorry, I just needed to laugh a little.
I remember my grandmother as cooking or quilting. While she would teach you how to cook, nothing ever tasted as good as what she made. When she quilted, you could sit beside her, and she’d tell you stories that made life on the farm come alive. She was one feisty, little woman.
Thank you Traci and thank you for your visit here and for sharing such a wonderful memory of your own grandmother. Mine quilted as well and did needle work and knitting. She tried to teach me to knit a few times but I didn’t have the patience for it. Mine was pretty fiesty too. 🙂
My mom used to make chocolate cake and we would eat it while it was still warm with NO frosting! It was a memory for me, but when I tried to re create that memory, I realized that I like frosting now lol. My mom didn’t for some odd reason.
Michelle, I will take chocolate cake with or without frosting! Thanks for sharing the memory.
Thank you, Danielle, for the road trip you took me on this morning. I went from having a cup of tea in my Gerrards Cross kitchen to a beautiful old log cabin in the Louisiana wood, thanks to your blog. It certainly sounds like your grandmother and mine were kindred spirits! She was a ‘biscuit’ lady and could whip out a pan of her cat head biscuits in no time…and she did it about 4 times each day! I remember making ‘mini’ biscuits with her in that farmhouse kitchen, complete with pot bellied stove. She always told me that I was her favorite of all my Dad’s children, which was pretty cool until I remembered I was his ONLY child! No matter, she somehow made each of her 25 grandchildren feel extra special! My fondest memory of her was seeing her read her beloved Bible each evening before bed. When she passed away, I was given that Bible and you might be interested to know that right now it is sitting on the library table that I THINK belonged to Jim and Doug’s granddad, right in front of our Nativity scene and opened to the Christmas story. Feels like she’s still with me, even across the pond.
Thanks for the memories, girl. You may not realize just what a blessing this blog is…but like you, it is a blessing! Hugs from us both…xxx
Yvonne, I’m so glad the story inspired a trip back to that cabin in the Louisianna wood. Your grandmother sounds wonderful. I wouldn’t doubt if our grandmother’s were kindered spirits as I felt that way about you when we first met. I have my grandmother’s bible as well. It is on a stand behind my nativity scene. Thank you for your sweet comment and your encouragement. I love writing my blog and sharing my family and memories and I so appreciate your support. Hugs right back to you!
What a WONDERFUL post and tribute to your grandmother!
Thanks Kenley. She was an amazing lady.
beautiful work! cheers to many more great memories to come.
Thanks Lauren. I can’t wait to try a few more of your wonderful recipes!!
Danielle – So many memories I have of Aunt Eileen and Uncle Don. I think I miss them almost as much as you. I’m so glad you got the icebox cookie recipe. I remember standing in Grandma Beal’s kitchen trying to learn how to make them but not knowing how much a “pinch” or a “dollop” of something was. Thank goodness Aunt Eileen got the measurements. Now I can make the cookies of fond memories as well.
Thanks for sharing your memory too Marjie and I’m glad I could pass the offical recipe, via my grandma, onto you. Let me know if they are just as you remember. Love to you and many blessings in the coming year! Give Aunt Bev a big squeeze for me the next time you see her.
Good Morning, Sister in Christ! I am the person that asked for the recipe for “Refrigerator Cookies” that I remembered from my German great-grandmothers kitchen. Your recipe is very close to the ones I remember. ; ) I will play with a dark forest honey in substitute for some of the white sugar in my attempts to match her version from Europe. Your blog was indeed a warming moment; eliciting memories long chrished from the kitchens of my matriarchs. And, as I got to know you better by reading your blog site, I found we have much in common…our faith being primary. In addition, I have been a military wife (my husband is a chaplain) for the last thirty one years, and I appreciate your heartfelt support of the Armed Services and our country. We are moving from Minnesota (where we have kept a home through many military moves and deployments) to outside of Washington, DC in the next month. I would love to join you in this life journey by following your blog, and sharing the moments that bring joy to each day!
Cindy, thank you so much for your kind words. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate hearing from you. I am so glad that the Icebox Cookie recipe was close to your grandmother’s. I would love to know how the dark forest honey experimentation turns out. It is also fun to learn we have so much in common, with faith being the foundation. Thank you to you and your husband for your service and to bringing faith and comfort to the men and women of our military. I hope your move goes smoothly and that you settle into DC with ease – I will be praying for you. I would be honored to have you join me in this journey and look forward to the converstaions we will have here. You certainly brought joy to me today.
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