A month and a bit ago I inherited a lot of cookbooks from my father. I knew that he liked to cook and I think everyone who knew him knew that he loved food but I didn’t realize that he had amassed a pile of cookbooks. Flipping through the Laura Secord Canadian Cookbook I found my dad’s name and the date in his precise cursive on the title page, 1973, I think this particular cookbook is my favourite. Through his travels, his storytelling and his search for the new, Dad kept testaments to his past hidden on the bookshelf. What we know of ourselves and how we reveal it is in the titles on our bookshelves and standing in my father’s quiet bedroom, this nearly 40 year old volume of recipes in my hands, these thoughts swirled in my mind. The cookbook, with its wide array of traditional recipes that border on the quintessentially wacky (Pink Snow Bars – which I want to make purely out of a sense of homage) are my father. The other cookbooks are too, but he held on to this one for 37 years, through all the changes, the moves within the city and out of the country, when he was no longer a teacher and once again a student, all of it; this little cookbook sat on the shelf.
The recipe I used was actually called “Lemon Biscuits” and was a lovely basic recipe for lemon shortbread but since I had neither lemons or a love for following a recipe I made mine with orange. I know I have orange extract somewhere but whenever it is needed it always disappears so I had to rely on orange juice and if you plan on making these, I’d ensure you have orange extract. The zest and juice do add a lovely flavour but it’s not enough to explode orange, it’s more of a persistent and gentle murmur. I had originally intended these cookies for Christmas but I have been promising Miss N the chance to decorate some cookies and we have all the icings and sprinkles but not the time. It took her about three seconds of turning her big (and gorgeous) brown eyes on her Daddy and they broke into the tin of cookies. It was completely worth it. Not only that, but the bold splashes of colour across cookies was an even more perfect homage to my father.
Adapted from “Lemon Biscuits”, Laura Secord Canadian Cookbook.
Preheat oven to 375º.
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
pinch of salt
3/4 cup butter or shortening, room temperature
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
zest and juice of one orange, medium sized
2 eggs, room temperature
1. Sift together the dry ingredients.
2. In a separate bowl cream the butter or shortening. Slowly add the sugar and mix until fluffy. At this point add the zest and juice of the orange.
3. Add the eggs and mix well.
4. Ad the flour and blend together until it is a stiff dough.
5. Roll out on a lightly floured surface and cut into squares or use cookie cutters. This is the time to break out the Christmas tree cutters!
6. Bake 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. The directions call to lightly grease the cookie sheet, I lined mine with silicone baking sheets which keeps the bottoms significantly lighter than parchment paper.
If you are so inclined you can ice these babies with some fantastic icings. I’m looking forward to working with some royal icing; this time I used packaged icing scribbles which were great for small details but still had a bit of a weird flavour from the colouring.