a cooking inspiration from the past

Unfortunately, I didn´t get much of a chance to meet one of my grandmas. My grandmother on my mom´s side passed away when I was only 9, so we didn´t get to share that many moments together, which is a shame, because we had at least one thing in common: baking.

You see, my grandma was the traditional sort of woman of her time. She grew up quite poor with many sisters and one brother, who had to work since he was young because they all had to escape from a somewhat violent father. So all the sisters learned to cook, to knit, to clean and to embroider at a very young age. In fact, my grandma ended up being an embroidery teacher and was planning on teaching me how to embroider when she got cancer. Realistically speaking, though, she would have had to be one heck of a teacher to manage to teach clumsy me how to embroider, but that´s another story. She did manage to teach me how to knit… as evidenced by the many half-done, uneven scarves that those years yielded.

whole wheat squares

I think I was just a lost cause in those areas. But cooking, oh cooking would have been a whole different story. We would definitely would have had loads of fun cooking together. My mom says she was a bit secretive when it came to sharing recipes, but I believe that as her grandaughter, I would have been able to work my charm and make her share all of her secrets, though I guess I´ll never know. One of the things that hurt the most when I think about her or my nonno (who died when I was 8), is not being able to know them as an adult. You know, having conversations with them, real conversations, learning from their experiences, making them proud, all of that.

whole wheat squares with marmalade

But one thing I remember her teaching me in terms of cooking was how to peel a potato… no small feat for a lefty, but I did manage to learn that one skill haha Anyway… one of the most vivid memories I have of my grandma is her showing me how she made hairs with caramel, and the little cookies she seemed to have around at all times. Oh and the fact that she wouldn´t buy me a bunny at the fair on Sundays, but I blame that one on my mother! haha

But, back to food, she always had this whole wheat squares ready for an afternoon snack. They must have been good, because I still remember them to this day.

whole wheat squares 2

A few weeks ago, my mom and I found the recipe, jotted down in a now-yellowish piece of paper, along with several others I´ll be trying soon whenever nostalgia strikes me again.

Luckily, the recipe is very easy and quite healthy, and it allows several tweaks. The second time I made it, I needed to use up some coconut milk, so I went down that road and they turned out great. They are not very sweet, but you can adjust the amount of sugar to your liking, add a bit of honey to tweak it to your heart´s content. After the jump, I give you the two versions, first the original, and then the coconut one.

I hope you have enjoyed this trip down memory lane with me, and I also wish it served as a reminder to enjoy the time you spend with your parents, grandparents, and all those you love, because nothing is sweeter than creating wonderful memories for the future and brightening each other´s days.

whole wheat squares 3

Whole wheat squares (by my grandma María Elena)

2 cups of whole wheat

1 cup of milk

60 grams of butter or margarine

1/2 cup of sugar (I used 1 cup, I need some sugar!)

2 eggs

vanilla extract

2 cups of all purpose flour

2 teaspoons of baking powder

2 or 3 teaspoons of cinammon

(raisins, optional)

1. Mix the whole wheat with the milk and let it rest while you mix the ingredients in step 2.

2. Mix the melted butter with the sugar, the eggs and the vanilla extract. Add the previous mix of whole wheat and milk.

3. Mix in the flour, the baking powder and the cinammon (and the raisins, if you are using any.)

4. Pour in a buttered rectangular pan (it should be quite big, around 32cm x 20cm, so that the batter is spread quite thin) and bake in a 180°C oven for 15-20 minutes.

5. Cut in squares and sprinkle powdered sugar and cinammon on top with a sieve if you want.

Whole wheat squares with coconut (adapted from my grandmother´s recipe)

whole wheat squares with coconut

2 cups of whole wheat

1 cup of coconut milk (unsweetened)

60 grams of butter or margarine

1 cup of sugar

1/2 tablespoon molasses

2 eggs

vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour

1/2 cup of grated coconut

2 teaspoons of baking powder

2 or 3 teaspoons of cinammon

1. Mix the whole wheat with the coconut milk and let it rest while you mix the ingredients in step 2.

2. Mix the melted butter with the sugar, the molasses, the eggs and the vanilla extract. Add the previous mix of whole wheat and coconut milk.

3. Mix in the flour, the coconut, the baking powder and the cinammon (and the raisins, if you are using any.)

4. Pour in a buttered rectangular pan (it should be quite big, around 32cm x 20cm, so that the batter is spread quite thin) and bake in a 180°C oven for 15-20 minutes.

5. Cut in squares.

13 Comments

Filed under food, rambling, sweet

13 responses to “a cooking inspiration from the past

  1. How great to have found the recipe again! I recently had a chance to look at one of my great grandmother’s hand written cookbook, it was wonderful.

  2. What a lovely post. I love going through old recipes… and it’s true – it’s really nice to be able to share the experience with the person who wrote them out… there’s always a good story, memory, or chuckled associated with them.

  3. Thanks, I have bookmarked this! You are lucky, I never had the opportunity to cook with any of my grannies!

  4. Aww that was a great post, Marce. I lost my grandma (on my mom’s side.. my father’s mom died before I was born) when I was only 11 or 12 and I think of her often. She use to make the best spaghetti with meatsauce and pudding clouds! hehe

    These wheat squares look very yummy and I like how they aren’t real sweet. I’d have to choose the coconut ones though.. yum!

    Great post!
    xoxo

  5. The old recipes are sometimes the best! These look great and I love the addition of whole wheat flour!

  6. Great post! I have my grandma’s old cookbook and just looking at it brings back sweet memories. I think of her a lot, when I cook, bake and sew, all things she enjoyed teaching me with all the patience a grandmother has.

  7. Thanks everyone for the sweet comments. I agree, old handwritten family recipes are one of the sweetest things and I´d trust those recipes much much more than recipes from any cookbook, since they are family staples and they´ve never failed me.

  8. Yes, I have been very lucky to cook with my grandmother, and learn from her. I wish everyone could experience the same.
    Glad you were at least able to find some parts of her to grow closer to, in her yellowed recipes.

  9. Having recently lost my grandmother (mom’s side, dad’d mom died when I was 4), I did enjoy your post as I was smiling and crying all over again. Thank you for sharing this family bit with us, sometimes it feels good to let it out in virtual paper.

  10. These would make a great afternoon snack.

  11. What a thought provoking post, and it’s lovely that you found the recipe again🙂

  12. What a treasure to find some of her old recipes!

  13. What a sweet story and unusual recipe, they sound delicious!

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