Perhaps every grandmother bakes cookies. Mine sure did. And there was this one recipe that in my mind was unique to Grandma Georgia. Her recipe for Brown Sugar Raisin Cookies wouldn’t have stood out as special to me, just looking through recipes. Though I am fond of brown sugar concoctions, I have never really taken to raisins. But this cookie wouldn’t be the same without them. In her recipe file, she labeled them “Ola’s Cookies”. Her youngest sister was named Ola. She must have thought fondly of Ola whenever she baked a batch of these cookies. I think of Grandma Georgia. To me, the flavor speaks of delicious odors filling her simple house, her hearty laughter, and her ready hugs. These cookies say “Grandma” as clearly as anything ever could.
I must tell you that the mix of flavors–lemon, brown sugar, and stewed raisins– grows on you and it’s nearly impossible to eat just one. I will also let you know that for years after Grandma Georgia shared this prize recipe with my mother, we could not figure out her secret. Ours never quite ended up the same as Grandma’s cookies. However once upon a time she divulged her little secret (a bit resentfully, as if everyone should just know how to do this.) She always baked a test cookie before she put a sheet of them into the oven. After baking one, if it didn’t turn out light and fluffy, she added more flour. So we learned that recipes aren’t cut in stone. They are meant to be adjusted to preferences and current conditions.
Suffice it to say that the cookies turn out much better (more like Grandma’s) if the dough is very stiff to start with. You don’t want them spreading out too much during the baking process.
Grandma Georgia’s Brown Sugar Raisin Cookies
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Measure a cup of raisin into a saucepan. Cover them with water and simmer them gently while you prepare the rest of the cookie dough.
- Cream together 1 cup Crisco and 2 cups brown sugar. Note: I learned a few months ago that genuine Crisco has a component of palm oil in it, which is not environmentally friendly, given that much land in tropical countries is altered to produce the palm trees to meet palm oil demand. I used 1 cup of real butter instead with no detriment to the finished product.
- Add 2 well-beaten eggs, 1 tsp vanilla extract, and 1 tsp lemon extract. Beat well.
- Measure 3 1/2 cups sifted flour and sift with 2 tsp soda and 2 tsp cream of tartar. Mix the dry ingredients into the dough.
- Drain the raisins after they are soft and plump. Add them to the cookie dough, and add 1 cup nutmeats, if desired.
- Mix well with your hands. “Makes them soft,” wrote Grandma Georgia.
- Drop by spoonfuls onto a baking sheet.
- Bake 10 – 15 minutes in the pre-heated oven.
A bit of Grandma’s life wisdom:
“When I was younger and my feelings got hurt or a problem was hard to solve, I would get my hoe, and I would hoe and hoe, as hard as I could, until the problem didn’t seem so big. I used to have a wonderful garden!”
Georgia Wells Harris, November 1983