Friday, March 7, 2014

Grandma's Cookies

Slice of Life Challenge, Day 7

On the wall that divides kitchen from dining room, hanging next to the stove is my grandmother's springerle rolling pin. It has always hung here.  I don't remember a time walking into my grandparent's home, whether I was six or thirty-six, that the wooden rolling pin wasn't hanging from the hook by a red ribbon. In that exact spot, untouched.

Springerle cookies are a German holiday tradition.  Doughy pillows of perfection begging to be dunked in your mid-afternoon coffee to release their hint of black licorice flavor. But my grandma has never made them.  She's never made any cookie to my knowledge. We used to joke as kids - my sister and cousins, aunts and uncles, and grandma would join in - that Sara Lee was the only baker in my grandparents' house.  This is not to say that my grandmother never cooked.  Every Sunday afternoon, we would trapse over to the little black shuttered ranch-style home that sits overlooking Elk Lake for pot roast in the fall and winter, burgers and brats in the spring and summer.

Their home was always filled with people, especially the kitchen. You could stop by unannounced in the middle of a Tuesday afternoon and someone would be there visiting with Grams, drinking coffee and chatting. And despite not being a baker, my grandma always had cookies. When my sister, cousins, and I got old enough to reach the counter, she had to move them from the green metal bread box to an overhead cupboard so we wouldn't stuff our pockets full of Soft Batch chocolate chip cookies before running outside to play.

It wasn't until I was much older, living states away from my grandparents' home, that I asked her about the rolling pin hanging in her kitchen.  It was my great-grandmother's, my grandpa's mom. She used to make springerle cookies for my grandpa as a kid growing up in Detroit.  The rolling pins hangs in her kitchen as a reminder - of my great-grandmother, of my grandpa, of the little house in Detroit where they lived when my grandparents were first married - of their shared history.

I was reminded of this shared history when one of my springerle rolling pins fell from the baker's rack in my kitchen this morning.  My rolling pins do not have the same history, bought on eBay a few years ago.  We use them regularly from Thanksgiving through Christmas to make our own springerle cookies.  My boys take turns to carefully roll out the designs on the dough. The owl is a favorite. They don't want to wait for the cookies to dry overnight in our garage before they can be popped into the oven to bake. The next day, they will sit impatiently by the oven door, watching through the warm glass as the cookies plump while they bake.  This is how we are building our history.  Later, they will help me package the springerle cookies to send out to my grandmother, their great-grandma.  She will call a few days later to say this is how I remember them.  
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