Sunlight through the little window draped with plain curtains dapples the chrome-edged kitchen table. A flour coated hand pushes back wisps of gray hair from a wrinkled forehead. The worn oilcloth floor crackles under foot. And the fragrance in the air ... Heaven. There is no memory more alive to me when I remove Grandma's recipe for Brown Sugar Cookies from its drawer than this one.
Great-grandma was already very old when I was born - in her 80's - and my memories of her are few and fleeting, but that kitchen, and grandma ever-present and baking in it, are etched into my mind with a clarity like no other. I don't recall words ever being spoken, no requests for help, or offers of raw dough to nibble; just grandma's still-nimble fingers busy at their task - the sound of the wooden spoon against the brown pottery bowl - the cookie trays clanging against one another as she removed them from their place - the whoosh of the gas oven lighting.
Grandma has been gone for so long now, and I have aged nearly 38 years since then, and yet ... it's like yesterday. I could close my eyes and still smell the warm Indiana summer and the overripe apple tree in the yard as I walk through the front door of her tiny home that sat just behind her daughter's home. I could hear the creak of that oilcloth floor that lay throughout her small lodgings and I would find her still at that table, busily making cookies ... Brown Sugar Cookies, and the taste would be the same as ever - the taste of home.
Great Grandma's Brown Sugar Cookies
2 fresh eggs
1 cup shortening
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
Cream together shortening and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla and blend well. Sift flour and baking powder and salt together in a small bowl and add to the egg, sugar and shortening mixture. Stir to form a stiff dough. Form into a long oval and wrap with plastic or tin foil. Chill for an hour or more in the refrigerator. Cut into 1/2" slices and bake on an ungreased cookie sheet at 350 degrees F for 12 minutes until very lightly browned. Ice with a basic powdered sugar icing, if desired.