I never really got to know my Nana very well. But from what I know about her, I think we would have had a lot in common.
She was a science professor, so I’m sure she would have loved the fact that I went the science route in university and we could have had nerdy science discussions at all of our family gatherings.
She was also an artist. We have a number of paintings of hers, and one of them is even hanging on the wall at our favourite restaurant Blacktree! While I definitely didn’t inherit her skills for the fine arts, I think maybe my interest in photography and food styling came from her artistic gene.
And she loved making fun of my dad – I know we definitely would have gotten along well on that topic!
But the thing I can relate to my Nana the most about is cooking. I’m sure my love of cooking must come from her. She was in no way a 5 star chef, but she knew how to make good, home cooked food using fresh ingredients… and canned beets occasionally, as my dad not-so-fondly remembers.
One of my favourite recipes of hers is these brown sugar shortbread cookies. It’s a tradition to make them every Christmas, and this year I wanted to share our tradition with you. These buttery cookies seriously melt in your mouth, and the brown sugar gives them a richer flavour than conventional shortbread cookies. They’re the perfect treat to have with your coffee after a big turkey dinner!
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- ¼ tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 cup cold salted butter
- ½ cup light brown sugar
- ¾ tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- In a medium sized bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt.
- In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar with a pastry blender. When it is completely mixed, stir in the vanilla, then add the flour mixture and use the pastry blender to combine.
- Once it looks crumbly, use your hands to form it into two balls of dough. **It is important to handle the dough as little as possible to prevent too much gluten formation, which will toughen the cookies.
- Roll out the dough one ball at a time into a rectangle with about ½ cm thickness. Using a pizza cutter, cut the dough into rectangles and prick the tops a few times with a fork.
- Place on a Silpat or parchment paper lined cookie sheet and bake for about 9-11 minutes, or until the cookies are a light golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and let cool on the cookie sheet for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack. Store in an airtight container for up to a week.
This makes the sixth batch of baked goods I’ve made in the past week, and I’m not even done my holiday baking yet. I guess I’d better get cracking seeing as Christmas Eve is tomorrow – eek! It crept up so quickly on me this year. Who else isn’t ready for it yet?
What holiday recipes do you make every year?