Weekend Cooking: Gram's Hermits (at last!)

A memory: A tin, originally used to package factory-made cookies or biscuits; now holding a treat from Gram’s kitchen. Sometimes it’s her applesauce cake, it might be oatmeal thumbprint cookies, or – my favorite – her hermits.  Chewy gingerbread bar cookies with a sprinkling of crunchy sugar on top; some bites have raisins, adding to the sweetness.  Best when dunked in a cup of cold milk, the tin of hermits doesn’t last two days before it’s empty and returned to Gram, with a smiley-faced “please fill me!” note inside.

A challenge: I have been looking for Gram’s hermits recipe for-EVER!  Well, off-and-on for several years, heating up a year ago when I posted my “In Search of Grammy’s Hermit Recipe” post, even trekking to a vintage cookbook store in New York, hoping to spy something familiar among the classic tomes at Bonnie Slotnick Cookbooks.

I was starting to accept that I must have thrown out the recipe in a pile of papers during a move or a mad cleaning fit.  I emailed my sister, pleading “do you have it??!”  She sent one back, suggesting it might not be Gram’s, but maybe we could modify it until it matched our memory.

One last effort at going thru every. single. piece. of. paper. on my cookbook shelves and binders (I won’t post a photo, it would scare you).  And guess what?!?! I found it!  Granted, it was in J’s hand-writing (the best we can figure is that she set him down with a stack of my favorite recipes 20 years ago, and he copied them), but it’s her recipe!

Gram’s Hermits

  • 1/2 plus 1/3 cup shortening (yes, I bought Crisco!)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • Mix all ingredients, press into 11 x 17″ jellyroll pan
  • Sprinkle additional brown sugar on top.
  • Bake 9-11 minutes at 375′.  Cool completely, and cut.

I asked my sister’s permission before posting this recipe, since it’s the closest thing we have to a family legacy. She said “Share away; that’s what recipes are for, especially the oldies but goodies.”

You might have noticed the “I <3 Adriana” widget over in my left-hand sidebar; it just so happens that Adriana Trigiani is interested in family recipes (and fashion, but I’ve got even less in that department!).  Her memoir, Don’t Sing at the Table: Life Lessons from My Grandmothers is a wonderful peek at wisdom passed down through the generations (my review).

Ms. Trigiani is running a contest for book bloggers attending Book Expo America (BEA) in May; check out the details at this link.  Did I mention the prizes? Five bloggers will win lunch with Adriana Trigiani and an abbreviated version of her Greenwich Village walking tour (the setting for several of her books, including Very Valentine and Brava, Valentine).

There are even more Weekend Cooking links at this round-up, hosted by Beth Fish Reads.  You may find cookbook reviews, kitchen tips and tricks, or other family recipes.

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