Remembering two women I love and miss in their favorite cookie recipes – Part II Grandma Biniek’s Snickerdoodle Recipe:

My grandmother Lois Biniek died a brief 5 months before my mother. They were two distinctly different women who have both inspired me in life and have shown me the greatest role models as woman, mothers, matriarchs, strong and yet compassionate, and ever evolving they are somehow perfect compliments and contrasts to each other. At times it seems strange to think of both of these losses so close together but at most points it seems perfectly fitting. My mother and grandmother while different in so many ways both held certain core truths and ideals so firmly – they were both unbelievably caring, thoughtful, deeply spiritual woman. My mother learned to count on my grandmother’s almost instantaneous thank you cards, her condolence cards would arrive before any other, and her notes of encouragement and hand made towels were (and remain) a cornerstone in our homes.

While my childhood in San Francisco may have been anything but conventional and predictable, weekends with my Grandparents were the very fabric of stability, reliability, and normalcy. On the forty-five minute drive from San Francisco to Napa I watched the golden hills be over taken with vineyards through the years, I saw once farmland turn into sprawling home developments. But when we exit the freeway and snake the familiar side streets to the drive my Grandparents lived on I still see what I did decades ago. Their house has always been pink with a green lawn. There was always candy in the bowl on the hutch by the front door.  We went for walks to the nearby playground and would asses the Napa River in its evolving stages of flood and drought. When other cousins where in town we would ride plastic big wheels up and down the street and around the block aiming for the irragular sidewalks and the jumps in gravity they would provide us with. There has always been a small porcelain Christmas tree with marble ornaments that lit up and served as a night light for sleep overs.

Grandma would make dishes we never ate at home – Pot Roasts and mashed potatoes made from snowy flakes that fell from a box. We ate around the kitchen table that would be set with place mats from the various destinations my grandparents had traveled together. I liked to set the table placing each plastic covered card and then tracing the picture with my finger – Lake Tahoe, Hawaii, Minnesota, Boston, Panama, San Francisco. I dreamed of these places as my finger followed the pictures around the country and world. After dinner we had dessert and the one that always makes me think the most of my grandmother in her kitchen proudly dressed in her apron with each grandchild’s name stitched into an apple, were her snickerdoodle/sugar cookies.

This past summer on a visit with my grandfather to this same pink house I asked if he still had Grandma’s recipes. He pulled the cards out and I looked first for her cookie recipe, although now that I think of it I should have copied more recipes down while I was there, and while my dad and his father talked ideally in the kitchen I copied my grandmothers handwritten recipe below.

Grandma Biniek’s Sugar Cookies (Snikerdoodles):

2 cups of sugar

3 eggs

1 cup shortening (I use butter for this)

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 ½ cups flour

½ teaspoon of salt

1 teaspoon of baking soda

1 teaspoon cream of tartar (I used arrowroot for this and it worked just fine)

3 tablespoons of sugar (reserved to roll cookies in)

1 tablespoon of cinnamon (reserved to roll cookies in)

In a large bowel cream together butter and sugar until fluffy and then add eggs one at a time and vanilla.

Sift together dry ingredients. Add dry ingredients to butter, sugar, egg mixture.

Chill Dough at least one hour or up to over night.

Combine reserved sugar and cinnamon.

Form golf ball size portions of dough and roll in cinnamon sugar mixture.

Place on a prepared cookie sheet 2 inches apart.

Bake in a preheated oven at 350-degree for 8 – 12 min

After making both sets of cookies this weekend I made two small care packages – one for my grandfather in Napa and the other for my Sister in Portland to share some of the baked memories from these two remarkable woman we so love and miss.

In loving memory and endless admiration for Lois Biniek and her many expressions of love in all of the lives around her.



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12 2010

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  1. Camila #

    Looks and sounds delicious, I can’t wait.

  2. SHARON #

    It was my first time for snickerdoodles and they were great as were the Rugelach. Hope I can make as good but I’m going to try

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