Years ago now, I was attending the funeral of one of my paternal grandmother's dearest friends when I overheard a wonderful conversation between my aunt and one of my aunt's childhood friends. They were reminiscing about time spent in my grandmother's big square kitchen around the large table eating hermits and drinking milk. My aunt's friend said, "I know that this will seem shallow, but I loved spending time at your house because your mother was so much younger than my own. I thought that she was so pretty and so nice. You know, she fed many more children than her own five."
The thought of my grandmother as a wife and mother "young and pretty" feeding the neighborhood kids her delicious hermits and serving up glasses of milk has remained a powerful image for me. My own memories of her were of a woman bent and bowed by time, rheumatoid arthritis, and the cares of the world. I have much appreciated being able to replace those harsher memories with warmer ones.
This is my grandmother's Hermit Cookie recipe. It's hearty — good for growing boys and girls for she always said it was rich in iron.
* 1/2 cup shortening
* 1/2 cup brown sugar
* 1/4 cup molasses
* 1 egg
* 2 teaspoons milk
* 1-3/4 cups flour
* 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
* 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
* 1/4 teaspoon clove
* 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
* 1/2 cup chopped raisins
Cream together shortening and sugar. Add beaten egg, molasses, and milk and mix well. Mix and sift flour, spices and baking powder. Add to first mixture and mix well. Add chopped raisins and mix thoroughly. Drop from teaspoon 2 inches apart on greased pan. Bake in moderate oven (325ºF) 15 to 20 minutes.
My grandmother always baked hers by spreading them on a cookie sheet and then cutting them into generously sized bars.
Happy Monday, everyone!