Monday, July 26, 2010

Saturdays and Teacakes - Teacakes

"She opened the over door and the kitchen filled with a smell sweeter than summer gardenias--the smell of teacakes."  - Saturdays and Teacakes, Lester L. Laminack

When I was growing up I had a very close relationship with my grandfather. Due to the early deaths of my other three grandparents he was the only one I was really knew and he was, in a way, like a third parent to me and my sister. Some of my favorite memories are of going on walks together, eating cheese and crackers in front of The Young and the Restless and--when I was in upper elementary school--getting involved in stamp collecting together. My grandpa adored all of his grandchildren and bonded with all of us in different ways. For those of us who lived near him, he never missed a dance recital, concert, big sporting event or graduation. He also made it a priority to visit his other grandchildren who lived across the country. I miss him every day and think about him often--especially when I see my boys enjoying things he would have enjoyed, like getting excited about planting flowers in our garden or playing an instrument.

(Me and Poppa, circa 1981)

Saturdays and Teacakes by Lester Laminack is the story of a boy and his grandmother (Mammaw) and the special relationship between a child and a grandparent. Their standing Saturday date is a ritual that begins with the main character setting off on his bike and riding through town until he reaches her home. Their day includes sharing breakfast, doing yardwork, eating lunch (with fresh tomatoes from the garden) and--finally--making and eating Mammaw's special teacakes. Chris Soentpiet's lovely, Rockwell-inspired watercolor illustrations firmly place the story in a not-so-distant past and evoke feelings of nostalgia for a bygone era--a time when little kids really did ride their bikes through town (without helmets!) and gas station attendants wore spiffy uniforms. Despite the setting, the story is one all who have a special bond with a grandparent can relate to.

Laminack's publisher, Peachtree Publishers, has a recipe for "Mammaw Thompson's Teacakes" on their website. I adapted it to be gluten-free.

Teacakes (adapted from "Mammaw Thompson's Teacakes", Lester L. Laminack)

  • 2 sticks butter (I used Smart Balance Butter Blend)
  • 3.5 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla
Note: I halved the recipe--the last time we made cookies (and these are, despite the name, cookies) for this blog we didn't end up eating all of them. I used slightly less sugar than the recipe called for because the flour blend I used already has sugar in it. If you aren't following a gluten-free diet and are interested in making these cookies you'll definitely want to check out the original recipe on Peachtree's site rather than use the one I've provided.

1. In mixing bowl, cream softened butter and sugar.

2. Beat eggs and vanilla together. Add to butter and sugar and mix well.

3. Add flour, mix well until all ingredients are combined.

4. The original recipe says to roll out the dough and use a cookie cutter or the rim of a glass to cut into circles. I really didn't want to mess with that; I made drop cookies instead. Normally I abhor those Airbake cookie sheets but I recently read that they work well with gluten-free baked goods. Since I was at my mom's house while making these I decided to give the Airbake sheet a try.

5. Bake at 375* for about 15 minutes.

(The boys and my nephew, enjoying their teacakes after lunch.)

To be very honest, I don't think these cookies are all that different from the moon and star cookies I made last month (I'm thinking of mixing up some ganache icing to give them a different flavor). However, the cookie itself isn't the point. This book is about a special tradition shared between a grandparent and her grandchild, and the important thing is the love and the memories centered around this special recipe, not the recipe itself. It could have just as easily been called Saturdays and Tacos or Saturdays and Tofu. In my case, it might have been called 11:00 a.m. and Cheese and Crackers. I will never be able to pass the refrigerated spreadable cheese section in the grocery store without thinking of my Poppa and all of the special times we shared while spreading cheese on crackers and watching the lives of Victor Newman, Jack Abbott and the other denizens of Genoa City unfold. My parents and inlaws don't cook with my kids. They don't watch wildly inappropriate soap operas with them either. But when my dad shares ice cream bars with the boys after dinner or my mother-in-law gives them silly nicknames I see their own traditions beginning to take root.

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Callie Feyen said...

A very heart warming post. What a nice tradition, and the book sounds great.

sandhya said...

Made me remember my grandmother who wrote down the recipes of all my favourite dishes made by her as a wedding gift.
Lovely post.

Katie Fries said...

Callie, the book was lovely. I really enjoyed it from an adult's perspective, but my kids also loved it.

Sandhya, that's a wonderful gift. How fun that you're able to share them with your own family now.

Katie Fries said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paula (Belgium) said...

We had a look at your gluten free recipes and liked them. Thank you!
Paula & Family