By Gini Rainey
I just spent an hour or so looking through a recipe box that belonged to my Aunt Evie. It’s one that I painted for her as a Christmas gift back in our leaner days – yellow with red strawberries and leaves twining around the lid. When she died I received it back – along with a lot of her recipe cards that came from a lot of friends and relatives. There is so much to be learned from looking through stuff like that. For instance, I had no idea how many different ways she probably prepared eggplant! With my uncle’s truck farm producing a wealth of that pretty purple vegetable, I know we ate a lot of eggplant during the summer, but it was always sliced, breaded, and fried. Why, Aunt Evie’s eggplant recipes included spaghetti, casseroles, eggplant balls, and more.
Also, I noticed that many of her dressing recipes call for mineral oil. I had no idea that mineral oil was consumable – or was that another name for cooking oil many moons ago? One of the recipes of my grandmother’s for a jello salad called for the jello combination to be “livery” before being stirred into the rest of the ingredients. Gee Grandma, couldn’t you come up with a better description for the consistency? That one kind of left me cold.
I have a cookbook in front of me today, “Hershey’s 3 Books in 1” that was published in 2008 by Publications International, Ltd., and although it is filled with some mighty good recipes for everything decadent made with chocolate, I’m surprised that it doesn’t include a recipe that my Grandma made every Christmas. It does have enough recipes, though, for cookies, confections, cakes, brownies, pies, & desserts, to make your teeth hurt from the thought of biting into all that yummy-ness! With the holidays coming down the road like a Mac truck, this book would make a great addition to your “library” for go-to goodness.
Back to Grandma. Her recipe for Toffee Squares is timeless, and it always reminds me of the great relationship she and my dad shared. My dad owned a tavern, so he bought a lot of stuff in quantity. At Christmas his purchases always included a box of Hershey bars that he gave to Grandma, knowing that he would probably score some of her yummy bars. He would also take her a bouquet of Sweet Peas (her favorite flower) every year on her birthday, as well as do a lot of other things to help her out.
But for her recipe, here’s what you need to do: cream together 1 cup butter, 1 cup brown sugar, and one egg yolk, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Then stir in 2 cups of flour and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Now press this mixture into an 11 x 13 pan. Bake at 325°, and when done, cover the top with Hershey bars and ¾ cup chopped nuts – Grandma used walnuts, but pecans will work just as well. Let cool, cut into squares and store in a covered container. These will also freeze well, so you can get a jump on your holiday baking if your family doesn’t eat them all before they hit the freezer! Just enjoy, no matter what!