May 29, 2021

Introduction: "My Cookies, and More" by Wanda Lucille Smith

My Cookies, and More
Wanda Lucille Smith
September 1993
Illustrated by Bill Smith

My maternal grandmother, my Mamaw, Wanda Lucile (Troutt) Smith, gave us all (her children and grandchildren) a copy of this treasure in 1993. I can't imagine a more thoughtful gift. It is her, it is our family celebrations and traditions, it is an ancestral memory that I can not only touch my my living hands, but create from its words what she created, enjoy as she did, and her ancestors did, surely, of some recipes, and pass on to my own descendants in the form of the book itself and the fruits of it.

Food traditions, of course, are deeply communal, ceremonial, and earth-connected. They are a way we connect with ancestral lines, cultures ours and those we're lucky enough to be welcomed to share. They nourish our bodies and souls, connect us with our bodies and our ability to enjoy and take pleasure in life and one another. 

Mamaw with her cookies
Mamaw with her Christmas Cookies, so many she had to set up a table in the basement to hold them all.

Mamaw was a marvelous cookie maker. Especially at Christmas she would make dozens upon dozens of cookies, and package them up for gifts, as well as having plenty to graze on all during the winter holidays. 

One very fond memory: I was in the Army, stationed in Aschaffenberg, Germany. It was Christmastime, and I was somewhere between 19 and 21 years old, a mere babe, far from home. Imagine my delight when I got off work to find a box of my Mamaw's cookies waiting for me, mailed all the way from the US. Many of them had crumbled in transit, but I don't think I ever told her that. I ate every crumb, and recognized every piece of cookie and all the love it contained.

Her skill as a baker was quite strong, and her tips for cookie baking in this book will carry anyone a long way toward perfect, delicate, traditional cookie making. 

Two Mamaws
Mamaw, with my own mother, Nancy Howard, in Mamaw's wonderful kitchen in Salem, Illinois.

I began this blog in 2007 with the aim of documenting my mother's family's recipes and the stories around them. Both sides of my family, maternal and paternal, were food people, gardeners, foragers (for that, especially the paternal), excellent cooks and carriers-on of the deep family traditions of food that carry our ancestry and ways down through the generations in our very souls and cells. However, my maternal side wrote the recipes down, and for that I am ever grateful.

By 2008 I'd become rather distracted by the fancy ways of the big city and my brief foray into private cheffing, and discouraged that I couldn't get many family members to contribute stories to go with our recipes.

Christmas 2020 changed that. I had moved at the end of 2019, the very week of Christmas, and so that year I didn't even look for my grandmother Wanda Smith's (Mamaw's) cookie book, which contained our traditional Christmas cookie recipes. But in 2020 I was ready --- but I couldn't find it! Lo, I couldn't find any of the family cookbooks. I looked and looked and looked, and they were nowhere to be found.

Then, a couple of days ago, looking for something else in the few remaining, unpacked boxes in the garage, lo and behold there they were! In an unopened box marked "kitchen" which had completely escaped my notice somehow!

So now, here I am, back to the original project after all these years, and this time anchored in the aim of digitizing these treasures before they are lost, again.

I begin with my grandmother's book,  "My Cookies, and More:; by Wanda Lucille Smith; "Mother, Wife, Grandmother, Great-Grandmother"; September 1993. Illustrated by Bill Smith. For it is the most important of the treasures.

Mamaw's Cookie Book, Cover: "My Cookies, and More" by Wanda Lucille Smith

This is the cover of her little book. The hand-written bits you see are in her own hand writing. Inside are the recipes and tips, and charming illustrations by her son, Lt. Col. William (Bill) Smith, my uncle, who, as everyone liked to say, was a West Point man. My they both rest in peace. 

Mamaw's Cookie Book: Index

 The index of recipes.

Mamaw's Cookie Book p.1: Nutjammer Cookies & Date Pinwheels


Mamaw's Cookie Book p. 2: Sugar Cookies & Christmas Cookies (Candied Fruit Slices)


Mamaw's Cookie Book p. 3: Lemon Cookies & Chocolate Chip Cookies


Mamaw's Cookie Book p. 4: Best Gingersnap (Molasses) Cookies & Little Snowballs


Mamaw's Cookie Book p. 5: Swedish Oatmeal Cookies & Oatmeal Raisin Cookies


Mamaw's Cookie Book p. 6: Peanut Butter Crisscrosses & Thumbprint Cookies


Mamaw's Cookie Book p. 7: Shortbread & Chocolate Covered Cherry Cookies


Mamaw's Cookie Book p. 8: Apricot Jewels & Aunt Nancy's Pecan Tassies


Mamaw's Cookie Book p. 9: Rum Balls & Aunt Janey's Kahlua Balls


Mamaw's Cookie Book p. 10: Aunt Sarah's Good Cookies & Cindy's Lemon Bars


Mamaw's Cookie Book p. 11: Helpful Hints


Mamaw's Cookie Book p. 12: Strawberry Filled Angel Food Cake & Milnot Cheese Cake


Mamaw's Cookie Book p. 13: Lemon Sheet Cake & Pumpkin Pie