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Cameron's House of Fun

Fatherhood, politics, education, random thoughts (heavy on the random thoughts) and stuff (always stuff).

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Of Shortbread and Nostalgia

I never knew my maternal grandmother, she died way before I was born. She was a Scottish immigrant to Canada and brought with her many traditions from the old country.

One of them was shortbread at Christmas. Not the fancy English shortbread cookies, or fancy things that were jammed out of a cookie gun or some crap like that. No. Shortbread, thick slabs baked in a baking pan. The average piece being about an inch or so squared. It's shortbread that you have a few pieces of with over tea or whiskey or Eggnog. It's muscular shortbread.

My grandmother taught my mother to make the shortbread and my sister and I were taught by Bev. The only instructions were hand written by my grandmother on a index card that was nearly translucent with years of handling by buttery hands. The temperature was listed as "Moderate oven". After years of experiments we've hit on 300 degrees. At some point Bev rewrote the recipe on another index card. It to is now nearly translucent.

Now that Bev is dead as well, the shortbread is now one of the connections that's left between she and I.

Today I was making two more batches for gifts and Lucas wanted to help. So the circle remains unbroken because I started to show him how to make it. He's still too little to knead the dough (taking it from crumbly to nearly like playdoh is tough sledding, even when you cheat like I do and soften the butter in the microwave) but he helped measure.

It will be years before the recipe is like a muscle memory, but it's a start.

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