I have become a collector of cookbooks. I didn't really intend that to happen, and I don't exactly actively seek new books to add to my collection; nevertheless, the two shelves in my kitchen reserved for cookbooks are running very quickly out of space. There are some I rarely use, some that are terribly stained from heavy use, and many in between. My most treasured cookbooks, though, are the ones that have come from my grandmas, Eva and Elsie. There's something about flipping through a cookbook and finding a small note written next to a recipe "Good". Even more treasured are the recipes slipped in between the pages, or bound together in a three ring binder, that they took the time to record. I have one such binder, from my Grandma Elsie, that I love flipping through. Nearly every single page falls out as you turn it, but you simply slide it back into place and keep browsing. It's divided by pages from an old address book, with leather tabs sticking out along the edges with the alphabet stamped in gold. I'm not sure what her filing system was, exactly, as very few of the recipes seem to correspond with the letters they are filed under, but it is neat, clean, and well loved.
Some recipes I may never make, such as the matrimonial cake whose base is a pound of dates cooked down into a paste, and others, like her peanut clusters she used to make every christmas and has recorded in three separate places in the book, I may bring back in time. I came across one recipe that I couldn't wait to make though, called Butterscotch Biscuits. It reads more like pie dough than biscuits, or cookies, as it really turns out more like, but it did not disappoint. While I was making them, I was picturing my Grandma making them in her kitchen, and I couldn't help but smile. Some things are meant to last.
Butterscotch Biscuits, from Elsie Van Camp
2 cups Flour
1 tsp salt
4 tsp baking powder
4 tsp Crisco (I used softened butter)
3/4 cup milk
2 Tbsp melted butter, plus more for pan
3/4 cup brown sugar
Mix together the flour, salt, and baking powder. Either with your hands or on your mixer’s lowest speed, mix in the crisco/butter. Slowly incorporate the milk. (I mixed everything by hand and found that using a rubber spatula to fold in the milk worked relatively well.) The dough will seem sticky, but workable.
Roll dough out on clean, floured or buttered surface (I used butter, might use flour next time.) Shape roughly into a square. Spread surface with the 2 T melted butter, and sprinkle 1/4 cup of the brown sugar on top. Roll up like a jelly roll (into a log or tube) and cut into 1/2 inch pieces. Place cut side down in a pan which has been spread with melted butter and 1/2 cup sugar and bake. (I simply rubbed some softened butter on the pan and then pressed the brown sugar into the tops of the cookies. I may try putting the brown sugar directly on the pan next time, for more of a caramel sauce. Make sure if you do that, that your pan has edges.) Bake for 15 minutes in a 350ºF oven.