I Watched Mom Make Thousands of Them

Santa let me out of the workshop just long enough to bake some cookies for Christmas. It was a special day. I picked up my nine-year old grand-daughter from school and we came to Santa’s kitchen to bake a special recipe.

As a kid, I watched my mother bake often. She was expert at making delectable goodies which I loved to devour. One of them is kifli, or crescents. They are squares of dough rolled over a filling. My favorite filling is walnut. My job for Mom began by cracking hundreds of walnuts to pick out the meat. I’m sure that out of every pound of nuts Mom got about nine-tenths of it for baking. The other tenth went down the hatch, hymmmm. Over the course of her lifetime, Mom made thousands of these cookies. She never tired of it. The faster we devoured them the more proud she was. I helped her many times and watched her make those thousands. I testify to eating thousands too. Although my favorite filling is walnut, she made apricot, poppy-seed, and prune filling also. All are delicious.

This was a special adventure for me because even though I watched Mom make these cookies often, I never made them myself. It has been sixty years since I witnessed the action in her kitchen. All I have is a faint memory, and her Hungarian recipes.

I taught grand-daughter how to grind nuts, separate yolks from whites, how to make meringue, and how to roll dough. My daughter cooks with Jenna often, so when my Jenna works with me she comes as an accomplished kitchen worker. One mix of dough gave us six small batches of about a dozen cookies each. By the sixth batch our kifli began to look like the ones Mom made. We didn’t roll the dough thin enough on the first batch, the crescents looked like doughy bread. On the second batch we cut the squares too small and we had trouble rolling them. By the third batch we got the dough thin enough, but over compensated on the size of the squares. Anyway, by number six we got the dough thin enough, and the squares just the right size. Thankfully, we didn’t over bake any, and they came out a light golden color.

I used one of the eight recipes for kilfi shown in Mom’s cookbook, the one with the green cover. The ladies of the Dorcas Guild of the Magyar United Church of Christ who compiled the recipes must each have had their own recipe, and to save argument, they published all eight. The cook book is only forty-four pages long but is has the basics for any Hungarian palette.

Here is the recipe in all its simplicity.

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Sprinkle the finished product  generously  with powdered sugar to make a scrumptious treat. I can’t honestly say which batch these kifli are from. No matter, I’m enjoying them just like I did Mom’s.

Sweet Miss Giving’s Cookie

I disagree with comments flashing around Facebook that 1% of Monsters consume 99% of cookies.

Grandma Peggy and I planned a beautiful evening out. We have theater subscriptions for Steppenwolf and had to reschedule our date from Wednesday to Thursday a week later. We did that because our theater date coincided with the funeral of a dear friend. Needless to say, the weather a week earlier was heavenly, warm and dry. The friends we usually go with reported the play was excellent and that we shouldn’t miss it.

The plan was to leave the house at four-thirty for the seven-thirty performance. We would valet park, dine at Gianni’s, and saunter across Halstead Street to Steppenwolf. We did leave at four-thirty. That was it for the plan. From that point on things went awry.

At forty-first street all traffic on the Dan Ryan stopped. Normally, we do not hit heavy traffic until the entrance to the last express lanes at twenty-second street. Traffic delays from twenty-second are more normal than the one we sat in Thursday.  It rained this time, and the line of semi-trucks looked like a railroad train from fortieth to the Loop.

The electronic sign at thirty-ninth said it would be twenty-seven minutes to Circle. (Chicago Circle Campus of the University of Illinois). Circle is at Roosevelt Road (twelfth street from thirty-ninth is twenty-seven blocks or roughly three and a half miles). Thirty minutes later, at twenty-second street, another electronic sign flashed “thirty minutes to Circle.” That didn’t sound so good.

Peggy and I had a wonderful conversation along the way as I watched the mpg indicator on the Death Star drop from 24.5 mpg to 22.5 mpg. We moved very slowly, so slowly that the speedometer needle never left the peg. I thought this jam would be the ideal scenario for the all-electric car. When you don’t move, it doesn’t matter if the electric can only travel forty miles on a charge. Although two and a half hours with head lights on would drain the battery too.

We finally, passed Madison Street, the geographic bisector of town. Traffic began to move north out of the loop at a light warping speed of ten miles per hour.

We pulled into the Steppenwolf parking lot a seven o’clock. Both of us made a mad dash to the rest room for relief. Once the pressure was off our mind the stomach growls kicked in.  We headed for the snack bar, where I spotted the cookies. Not just any cookie, these were Sweet Miss Giving’s Chocolate Chunk Cookies. I took two off the rack and waited in line to pay. “That’ll be six dollars please.”

Whoa, six bucks for two cookies! It didn’t matter I became the monster and Peggy was the monsterette.

I have to blog about this cookie, I told myself. I stuffed the empty package in my pocket.

The play was as great as our friends told us. I’ll write about it later. We left feeling pretty good about ourselves for having stayed awake for the entire performance, and we actually understood what was going on. Steppenwolf does, at times, present some weird stuff.

Our drive home took a sweet forty-eight minutes.

The following morning I read the label on the cookie package. No wonder these things were so good, one cookie is two servings for a total of five-hundred calories, but Sweet Miss Giving’s cookie made up for missing dinner at Trattoria Gianni’s, and the ridiculous two and a half hour drive.

A Challenge For Bakers

Monday is the day the agency I work for makes ...

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This special recipe for chocolate chip cookies is for the bakers in the world.  This flavorful cookie guarantees to make you the hit of any small town. The assembly of the recipe will present a challenge to even the most experienced baker, i.e. unless you cook for large groups. I discovered the recipe while touring on a vacation in Charleston, South Carolina. The ingredients are simple, and easily accessible from any grocery store.

These cookies will make your taste buds jump for joy. They will bring you satisfaction for  a long time, and they freeze well too. The chocolate speckled wafers make a wonderful treat for great grandfathers who served in the Navy during WWII. No doubt, the taste will awaken a memory cell tucked deep within the recesses of  a sailor’s brain.

If you decide to bake up a batch using this recipe, send me a few dozen, I love them

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