The recipe for these cookies, melting moments, originated in Scotland, or so claims Sharon Tyler Herbst. Wheat apparently does not grow well there, and so there is little flour in these. Cornstarch, sugar, butter, lard, an egg, a bit of salt, and a healthy dose of vanilla (thank you, again, Lara, for the homemade vanilla — yum!) make for light, melt-in-your-mouth cookies. Rolling the balls of dough in quick oats before baking coats the cookie with a fine golden toasted layer of light crunchiness. Delicious!
When Bruce and I were married (29 years ago today — why yes, I was an infant…) his mother gave me a small stack of his “favorite” recipes typed up on 4″ x 6″ cards. Being a dutiful sort of person, I tried most of them at least once. At some point along the way I learned that he was unfamiliar with some, indifferent toward others, and so I stopped trying so hard. A recipe for melting moments was among those cards she gave me nearly three decades ago. There are no oats and no lard in her version, and if I remember correctly, no egg. The important thing, however, and something she made sure I understood, was that it was a Scottish recipe, a symbol of his origins. Which is odd, as he is as much of English descent as Scottish if not more so, and German, and maybe Czech, and possibly a little who knows what else. But it is the Scot that is remembered, celebrated, treasured even. That is the patrilineal line, and so, no surprise, it is the story told. Even in a recipe, written out by his German/Czech/English most-likely-not-at-all-Scottish mother.
Of course I base these musings on the origins of surnames as we know them, not necessarily the ones his ancestors were born owning. I have had to do the same for my own ancestors. We both are descendants of people who seem to have left homelands and rarely, if ever, looked back. People who married, built homes and families, made new lives in a new world and at some point stopped either remembering or telling their stories, and whose children forgot the old world as quickly as a generation passes, if not quicker.
Not that I am complaining. Just wondering aloud what might have necessitated all that forgetting. Or was it more accidental? Was it just the same natural attrition of seemingly useless bits of the past devalued by the tyranny of the urgent in the here and now that everyone experiences to one degree or another? Whatever, they brought Bruce to me, and me to Bruce, and then Kate to both of us. It would, however, be nice to know their stories, to know their flesh a bit, and although they are long gone, have a chance to say thank you.