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Awake at the Whisk: Gram Burde's Fresh Apple Glazed Cookie Recipe

Thursday, April 28, 2011


Gram Burde's Fresh Apple Glazed Cookie Recipe

Love for baking and for homegrown food runs in my family. I inherited my passion from a line of women: Mom, Grandma, Great Aunt, and Great Grandma. All of these women shared countless joyful moments together in kitchens in the rural Midwest from Iowa to Illinois, teaching one another (and me!) recipes that have stayed in our family for generations.

Gram Burde's Fresh Apple Glazed Cookie Recipe wrapped in a bow for my mom's birthday!
Every time I step into my own kitchen and open my recipe box, the faded handwriting of these women greets me, along with memories of warm ovens, hands kneading and stirring, and the tastes of rhubarb or apples, freshly picked, and warmed with dough and sugar.

Today, I’ve invited one of these women to share her own childhood memories in the kitchen. Here, my mom debuts on Awake at the Whisk for her birthday. She writes about the matriarch of our family recipes, her Gram Burde, my Great Grandma. 

Happy Birthday, Mom!

My mom, 4 years old, proudly wearing the bright red skirt my Great Gram Burde sowed for her.
Apple blossom time signals my birthday. My favorite time of year! I’m proud to share my birthday reminisces on my daughter’s blog this year.

My mom’s mother adored me!

Gram Burde rediscovered hope for her life while she developed a strong love for me—upon my arrival only weeks after her husband’s death. At age 51 Gram learned how to giggle again when telling tales of my cute antics as a baby and toddler. I still recall her unstoppable giggle and the sparkle in her eye when she told a tale about me and then said, “That’s just what you did. Isn’t it?” (As early as age 3, I knew instinctively that I should feel proud of myself for being so ingenious as to have done something so adorable. I could tell by Gram’s tone of voice she was handing me an opportunity to claim my fame as “giggle-inducer.”)

When I was still a preschooler, I would often spend a week at Gram Burde’s home. We both woke before dawn to trek to Curtis Woodworking cafeteria, where Gram managed the kitchen in Clinton, Iowa. The sun’s first rays shone on the Mississippi River as we arrived bleary-eyed.

Up to 500 office and factory workers would begin arriving for lunch by 11 A.M. I amused myself with the adding machine or drawing at Gram’s office desk, “playing” the piano at the far end of the dining room, or clearing a few shelves in the store room adjacent to Gram’s office and curling up on a shelf for a nap.

I popped into the big, busy kitchen only occasionally. I loved my own little world in the office and store room. I could see Gram out the open office door and she could see me. Lots of times I proudly wove her and her co-workers potholders on my little loom.

Often I woke from my impromptu naps hungry. I knew that if I asked for a mid-morning ham salad sandwich it meant a trip inside the walk-in coolers. I could never figure out why they needed refrigerators as big as my bedroom, but I knew they were dealing with a lot of food at that place!

As a tiny tot, I had no comprehension of my Gram’s knowledge of food preparation. I only knew she delighted in my company. She never seemed too busy to put her arm around me, to use a patient voice, or to offer me whatever my heart desired.

My first appreciation for Gram’s cooking skills budded when she asked me to gather apples under the tree in her back yard. Once I brought my bounty into her kitchen the magic began. My adoration for Gram melded into a budding appreciation for cooking and being in the kitchen. (This is so similar to the magic that infuses a love of reading into a child when an admired adult shares reading time with that child.)

Gram Burde & me (Amber) on Mother's Day 1980. Note the giant jar of homemade jam. Great Auntie Marilyn, who owned a fabulous bakery at the time, is in the background.
“My” first apple crisp (all I did was gather the apples and watch Gram make it) was the most delicious thing I had ever eaten! I can still envision being in Gram’s kitchen spooning the crisp into my mouth. To this day, fruited desserts are my favorites.

Pink apple sauce remains one of my present-day kitchen “specialties.” My grandson was astonished the first time we made applesauce together from raw apples. He was very apprehensive about eating warm and colored applesauce. My children ate tons of it, since we had two MacIntosh trees in our yard during their growing years.

I know the joy that came to me each time I handled all those apples had its roots in Gram’s kitchen. Never mind the backaches that were inevitable from the long process of churning out the pink applesauce. I knew my kids loved it and I focused on memories of Gram as I worked. You know all your life just which people you are most bonded to—by your vivid memories.   

Gram Burde's Fresh Apple Glazed Cookies Recipe in her handwriting
On my birthday, Gram might have made me one of her rhubarb desserts, or an angel food cake decorated like a dress with a doll standing in the center. Apple blossoms were always the decoration on the table for my birthday.

I credit Gram for teaching me to bake these apple cookies. Ever my favorite, I made them endlessly for my own children…Amber, Amy, and Aaron. This is Gram’s Raw Apple Cookie Recipe—in her own handwriting.

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What a sweet post! And happy birthday, Amber's Mom!

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