Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Tea Cakes

I made tea cakes this morning.  For those who don't know this terminology, let me try to explain.  Tea cakes is the "old fashion" name of a sugar cookie only without so much sugar.  They are made with real butter, dropped by a spoon onto a cookie sheet and baked.  Nowadays, bakeries fancy them up with icing and sprinkles.  But, for me, I just as soon have just a plain ol' tea cake.

In making this recipe this morning, I was reminded of some very sweet memories.

My grandmother, Maw, loved making tea cakes.  She always kept something sweet baked "in case someone comes by for coffee".  She would double the recipe so  the batch made a lot.  Her tea cakes were about the size of a saucer that a coffee cup would sit on.  Maw wanted to make sure that one would be sufficient, but yet, you got plenty.

I closed my eyes while sitting at my kitchen table.  I smelled the tea cakes baking.  I could see Maw in her kitchen, with her dress neatly covered with an apron.  She would grin when the first batch came out and offer them to me hot off the tray with a large glass of milk with ice in the glass.  I visually looked into her eyes.  They still twinkled.  Her flawless skin with a little lip stick and rouge, her short gray hair curled around from a recent permanent, the fragrance of dove soap that she used to wash her face - in my mind's eye - everything about her was present.

The buzzing of the alarm to let me know my first batch of tea cakes was ready to be removed from the oven brought me back to reality.

I shared on Facebook a photo of the tea cakes in the oven.  A sweet cousin, Teri, made a comment about the photo.  Her comment brought another memory of Aunt Ellie's tea cakes.

It was Aunt Ellie's tea cake recipe I was using.  I told Teri of a day long ago.  I was about twelve years old.  We, my dad, mom and me, lived in a little town south of Houston called Clute.  I had been driving for some time.  My dad wanted to take his truck to Houston where he would later go on to work after our visit, but yet he wanted to ride with Mom.  I convinced them that I could drive his old 1949 Dodge Pickup truck by myself to Highlands - to Aunt Ellie's.

Neither parent realized I knew the back way to Highlands through the Washburn tunnel.  Heck, we'd gone that way so many times the trip was like a built in road map.  They went the long way around via Loop 610 to IH-10.  I beat them to Aunt Ellie's.  In front of Mom, Dad scolded me for "driving too fast" and not staying with them.  Behind her back, he told me he was proud of me!  I was the daughter of a truck driver!  I learned from the best.

Before Dad & Mom arrived, Aunt Ellie was so surprised that I had driven that "long way up there all by yourself".  She was so thrilled that I was independent.  My arrival, driving by myself, called for a celebration from her!  We made tea cakes.

Aunt Ellie was a fantastic cook.  Everything she made was scrumptious.  There are two,  or maybe a few more, things she cooked which stood out the most to me - tea cakes and her cornbread.  I would take either one cold any day or hour of the week.

It's funny how simply making tea cakes brings back a flood of memories.  It was a nice trip down memory lane today.  It was even nicer to see both of them in my mind's eye - wearing their dresses, with aprons covering the dress, smiling, chatting, making a little girl feel special.

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