Aunt Mae

My Aunt Mae died when I was 16 years old.  But don’t worry, this isn’t a sad story!  I used to bake with her – in a small kitchen that she shared with her sister, Tiny.  Yes Mae and Tiny – who were technically my “great” aunts.  I knew them very well and spent a lot of time with them, because they lived in a duplex where my Grandma (their sister) was also living.  They had an interior door to separate their two “homes”, but the door was always open!

Today I was looking through an old spiral notebook that I found in my recipe cabinet, and right in the middle of it were a few recipes written in my Grandma McKenney’s handwriting.

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  Now to be clear – this isn’t the same grandma that lived in the duplex.  This time, I’m talking about my mom’s mother, who lived out in the country (that’s what we used to say). 

I was so excited when I found this recipe today…..My mom’s mother got the recipe from my dad’s aunt!  Both of these women (and others who will be discussed at a later date) were so incredibly good to me and both spent a lot of time teaching me how to cook (mainly bake) so they have a special place in my heart!  Here’s a recipe – and let me emphasize again:  IN HER HANDWRITING – that my grandma wrote down FOR ME that was actually Aunt Mae’s recipe!  One more important note: I remember eating these cookies at Mae and Tiny’s place as a child!

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Enough of the reminiscing, I know…on to the recipe…..

OK but did you notice the first two words – ICE BOX!  Only Grandma’s would use that word.  My Grandma probably had an ice box before she had a refrigerator! LOVE IT!

 You’ll see that this recipe makes a LOT of cookies, so I’m cutting it in half today.  Start by putting 2 sticks, or ½ lb, of softened REAL butter in a bowl, along with the brown sugar.

I had to laugh at the recipe which says to add “1 pound of brown sugar”.  Well since I don’t have a 1 lb box, I used Google to help with the conversion (Grandma and Mae probably just guessed and it worked out fine, but I was curious) and it’s about 2 ¼ to 2 1/3 cups per lb. so I added 1 1/8 cup of brown sugar.  The recipe now says to cream it, then add the eggs, but I’m a rebel and can’t seem to make a recipe as it reads, so I added the egg before creaming it.

I NEVER measure the vanilla, but I did today since I was taking a picture of it.  And to be perfectly honest, that isn’t vanilla.  Again, I can’t seem to follow a recipe and I was in an almond extract kind of mood, so that’s what I used.  Either will be fine depending on the day and your mood.

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Now it says to sift the flour (2 cups) and baking powder ( ½  tsp), but instead I just threw it in the bowl, along with the cinnamon (also ½ tsp), which she left out of her baking directions but that’s ok because her cookies were always good!  I blended this until it was all dough-like and held together.

Finally I added ½ cup chopped pecans, but any kind of nuts would be good.

Grandma says to chill before rolling into a log, but Grandma (and Mae) had a lot more spare time than I do, so I just plopped the dough onto a piece of waxed paper and kinda wrapped it and molded it with the wax paper until it was one big log shaped roll.

Now refrigerate it for a few hours or until it is firm.

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This is where it gets super exciting because, well, this is when Mae would always let me try to slice the dough, which I wasn’t very good at, but it still tasted good so who cares?  Slice into about ¼ inch thick slices and place on a baking sheet.  Greased or ungreased?  I don’t think it matters….did you notice the amount of butter in this dough??!!  I think it will be fine either way.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 8 or 9 minutes or until they aren’t shiny on top.  This recipe made about 2 dozen cookies.

Cool for a few minutes or until you can’t wait any longer, then enjoy!

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*Note – Now that I’ve made them again (it had been many decades), I would suggest rolling this dough into a longer skinnier log, or just making two logs.  I would also slice them a little thicker, but that’s how I like my cookies.  These were still soft, but if you like them crispier, then keep this narrow slice and bake for another minute or two.

Ice Box Butter Pecan Cookies
Yields 24
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Ingredients
  1. 2 sticks (1/2 lb) of REAL butter
  2. 1 1/8 C brown sugar
  3. 1 egg
  4. ½ tsp vanilla
  5. 2 C flour
  6. ½ tsp baking powder
  7. 1 tsp cinnamon
  8. ½ C chopped nuts (of your choice – I prefer pecans)
Instructions
  1. Soften butter in a bowl, then add brown sugar, egg, and vanilla and blend well
  2. Add flour, baking powder, and cinnamon, then mix until smooth
  3. Now blend in the chopped nuts
  4. Wrap dough in waxed paper to form a long skinny log (or two smaller ones) and chill for approximately 1 hour or until firm
  5. Preheat oven to 350ᵒ
  6. Cut dough into slices about ¼ thick and place on baking sheet
  7. Bake at 350ᵒ for 8-9 minutes or until top is no longer shinny
Notes
  1. If you prefer extra crispy cookies, then cook for a minute or two longer
  2. If you prefer super soft cookies, then slice the dough a bit thicker and keep the same baking time
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