Auntie Paul’s Rum Balls

img_6128We grew up in a large house built in the early years of the 20th century. It stood on the corner lot, anchoring our neighbourhood. There seemed to be kids in every second house, parents with good friendships built during their time there, and we were all well known to each other. We’d play Kick-the-Can through the summer evenings using a four-block area, and we’d make wild sled courses in the wonderful occasions of snow, down through 35th Avenue.

Through these years the Scotens, our neighbours from two doors down, would come over for lunch on Christmas day. I’m sure all of us children had been up for hours by this point in the day. Between their family of 8 and ours of 6, it made for a house full, slightly chaotic with a large dog thrown in for measure. Lunch was made up of simple sandwiches and treats. And every year, Mrs. Scoten, known much more familiarly as Auntie Paul (Pauline), would bring Cheesy Pleasies, and Rumballs; one extremely savory, and the other sweet. For us the Rumballs were probably our first taste of alcohol, and feeling very grown up, we’d savor them. Their rich chocolatiness filled with cherries and nuts was very much our Christmas treat. When I’d moved away from home, and was going to do my own family Christmas, I remember writing to Auntie Paul and asking for the recipe. She passed away this year, well into her nineties; I know she’d be so pleased to have me share her recipe.

As you’ll see this is a very simple recipe with broad measurements for several of the ingredients. I usually use all the smaller amounts listed, but have been know to fill them chock full of cherries and nuts on occasion, and you’ll need the larger amount of sour cream to help bind them together if you decide to go this route. Continue reading

Snickerdoodles GF

IMG_0515A longtime family favourite for many, the simple Snickerdoodle still pleases. In this version I’ve used a cup-for-cup Gluten Free flour to accommodate the group I was baking for. The dough is slightly different from one made with wheat flour, but is absolutely acceptable. Perfect with a cup of tea on a day when summer seems to be changing to fall. Regular Wheat Flour option follows, as well as a Cappuccino version. Continue reading

Auntie Jane’s Shortbread

IMG_8735My aunt knows how to lay a table. She uses good china, silver, and cloth napkins even for the breakfast table, which is laid the night before. Lunch may be as simple as homemade soup and bread, but somehow it becomes a gracious break in the day, time to sit, and enjoy a small, wonderful meal. A few treats will be arranged on a pretty plate, to be enjoyed with a pot of tea before heading back into the day.

One of my favourite treats she makes is her shortbread. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized that hers was a recipe that should definitely be preserved. I have never had a shortbread as good as hers, quite simply it is the best. It is slightly rustic, giving it a timeless quality. Continue reading

Nutty Peanut Butter Cookies

IMG_7580I was sitting waiting for my car to be serviced, and noticed on the coffee bar that there was a container of homemade cookies. As I sat, I watched how many people took one as they walked by. Pretty much everyone took one, including a gentleman who took one simply to feed to another customer’s dog. It was such an easy thing for the dealership to do, and yet it instantly made the area homey. For employees and customers alike, it made it less of just a work place, and more friendly.

Having been away for a while, in a non-baking climate, and busy before hand, I haven’t made cookies in a long while. With just the two of us home now, I certainly don’t need a jar full.  But when the urge to bake some arose, I used my usual catering trick, I made the cookies but didn’t bake them. I formed them and put them in the freezer until frozen solid, then tipped them all into a freezer bag. All that needs to be done, when we want some fresh cookies, is to cook 8 or so at a time. They cook just as easily from frozen as they do fresh, with maybe a minute or so longer in the oven.

I decided to clean out my nut supply (which I keep in the freezer), as most containers were getting low. There were about 2 cups of mixed raw, unsalted nuts, including some salted Virginian red-skinned peanuts. Somehow that inspired me to make peanut butter cookies, filled with a good selection of other nuts as well. The extra bit of salt from the red-skinned peanuts are great addition.

Without the nuts, this is my very oldest peanut butter cookie recipe from the 1970’s. Hand-written on an well-worn index card. Although I’ve tried other versions, this is the one I use most often, especially when someone is expecting a traditional slightly chewy peanut butter cookie. The recipe works well with Cup-4-Cup all-purpose gluten free flour. Continue reading