A Recipe Lost in Wartime, Recovered From Memory

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Growing up, it sometimes seemed as if my sisters and I were the only kids around without a grandma. Grandmothers were everywhere: visiting our friends at holiday time, taking children to movies, baking cookies for them. Not us.

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In my only picture of our grandmother, my mother—a wide-eyed little girl, her hair plaited in two neat, thick little braids, wearing her best dress and a hand-crocheted collar—sits beside her. My grandmother’s soft brown eyes have a faraway look in them.

My mother was about seven when she and Grampa lost her: They were living in a forced-labor camp under Nazi occupation when she became ill. She was loved and missed by all who knew her.

I grew up eating these buttery, crumbly bars, never suspecting their origin. When I called my mother for the recipe, and to double-check its source (Betty Crocker? her best friend?), I was surprised and moved to learn that it was my grandmother’s.

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But my mother never knew the measurements or amounts. She told me that she watched her mother make them time and again as a very little girl, perhaps helping mix the crumbly dough. The recipe was not written down; all was lost in wartime.

And it wasn’t until after she and Grampa finally escaped and came to this country to start a new life, and my mother married and had a family, that she reconstructed the recipe from her childhood memory. This was how she was able to keep the memory of her mother alive and pass it down to us.

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I’m so happy to have just one “handed-down” recipe to share it here. I recently found out that it’s not only me who continues to make these cherry bars: My sisters have also continued to bake this treat for their own children. Though spread across the globe, Beile’s great-grandchildren continue to enjoy this sweet little cookie.

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Danh mục: Food

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