The Revealing, Secret Diaries of a Not-So-Secret Foodie


In Essay, Faith, Food, Gab, Photos, Recipe, Spiritual, Tidbits on November 26, 2011 at 8:05 pm

Holiday Pizzelle with Earl Grey.

Snowflakes sitting on the plate. These ones aren’t cold. They aren’t even white. On the small round table in Grandma’s kitchen next to her cup of coffee they wait. Earlier, I had watched her retrieve them from high atop the dark cherry china hutch that inhabited her dining room . So carefully she had reached up to retrieve the dress shirt box whose lid was slightly ajar. A curiosity in my mind; Grandma never left anything ajar.

The open box now resting on the table before us, was lined with wax paper. The purposefully creased paper loosely surrounded them. Nothing random about these snowflakes. They were neatly stacked by the dozen, in side-by-side arrays. This was Grandma’s method. The way she had gingerly lifted them out of the box, let me know they were fragile, precious cargo. But this precious cargo didn’t melt. Instead, they smelled heavenly.

Now done with all the chores, everything was “redd up”. It was only after every dish had been washed. Every pot had been scrubbed. And, each and every last crumb had been discovered and swept up into the push vacuum that she poured herself a cup of coffee and sat down. She sat down with me and that plate of lovely snowflakes at her little kitchen table. Before she sipped her coffee, she held up the flat but round snowflake in front of her and broke it. I could hear it crack under the pressure of her hand. So perfectly crisp, it snapped almost exactly in half. Before taking a sip of her long-awaited coffee, she then shared it with me.

It was like no other cookie I had tasted before. It wasn’t thick or chewy. It didn’t have nuts or frosting. It wasn’t overly sweet. It was simple and buttery with a crispness that melted away in your mouth when it touched your tongue. Its flavor was subtle.  So subtle it could be missed if you weren’t looking for it. It reminded me of the taste of a black jelly bean that I had eaten at Easter time once.  But this was more tolerable because of its more gentle nature.

Before I could ask Grandma what it was, I happened to notice how much she was enjoying her half. So hard she worked. All day preparing our special meal.   Cooking everything to perfection. Beautifully setting the dining table before our arrival. Baking breads and sweets with her sister for weeks to prepare for this one dinner. Vaguely I saw the tired remnants of a smile after she took a bite of her half of the cookie. To me, it appeared the happiest I had seen her all day. As she sipped on her coffee, she seemed to exhale with relief. As everyone else was in the front room, gathered around the TV on sofas, chairs or even laying down on the floor, she and I silently enjoyed each other’s company in the peace and quiet of the kitchen.

When she had finished her half of the cookie, I asked her what I had tasted. She looked at me from behind her coffee cup and said, “Susan it’s Anise. It’s a Pizzella”. She then reached for another and broke it in half and went back to drinking her coffee in silence. Anise. This one word was enough to ignite my imagination. Got it on a path of thinking, exploring and just wondering about that strange flavor I had tasted that day. Perhaps it was the girl’s name who wondered across a field of wildflowers in the far off countryside who had the gumption to taste that odd, parsley-looking plant. Or, maybe it wasn’t a girl’s name at all but Polish for some softly fragrant herbal remedy or concoction. Or maybe, a magical potion that could make a princess sleepy. For in this child’s mind, the possibilities were without end.

Now an adult starting my holiday baking I know for me the word means tradition; a tradition of love. As I pour the floral flavoring out of its amber bottle into the eggy batter below, I recall the thousands of cookies my family has enjoyed over the years celebrating the joy of a promised fulfilled. Interestingly, I am always brought back to the memory of my first pizzelle. The magic of that first taste. Somehow when Grandma and I gathered at that table to share the little round cookie, we shared more than a precious moment of quiet or a buttercrisp treat. We shared a legacy of love that brought me home, even though I had never left the peace and quiet of that kitchen.

So memorable the world is when viewed through the eyes of a child. How passionately they look at things with such curiosity and scrutiny, while still leaving room for angelic daydreams. I have been blessed with three sets of compassionate eyes, all blue, all boys. Although each with slightly different perspectives, they nonetheless remind me of the joy of encountering the world lovingly from a child’s perspective. Somehow, they always seem to bring to my attention the most beautiful things that on my own I might gloss right over. Sometimes, it’s a slimy slug making it way across the kitchen floor, but on the very good days it might be a wonderful memory that took place so many decades ago. One so powerful, but almost lost in the everyday world of getting things done.

Pizzelle; a great place to start when sharing some of my traditional holiday baking recipes. Known to be one of the oldest cookies, it is thought to have its origins in Rome. Although traditionally flavored with anise, it can also be flavored with lemon or vanilla. Use whichever flavor you prefer. The pressing of the wet dough between the hot iron imprints the beautiful snowflake pattern which always attracts my kids’ creative nature. They love helping make these. Anyone who knows me appreciates how much I love my morning coffee, but even more, they also understand the peaceful joy a hot cup of Earl Grey can bring me in the afternoon. The pizzella is the perfect accompaniment to an afternoon cup of tea. Pizzelle irons can be pricey. I originally inherited mine, however, when the electrical cord frayed it set me on a search. Ultimately, I found my current one in the clearance aisle at Carson Pierre Scott for more than 50% off. If you are so inclined, put yourself on a mission to find a used Pizzelle Iron. It might set you on a path of establishing a new and fun holiday tradition of love in your family.



6 fresh Eggs, I like Cage-free

3 1/2 cups All-purpose Flour

1 1/2 cups White Sugar

1 cup Oleo (I used Unsalted Butter), melted and cooled

4 teaspoons Baking Powder

2 Tablespoons Anise*

*You can substitute Almond, Lemon or Vanilla Extract (Use a flavor you prefer).

Beat eggs. Gradually add sugar. Beat until smooth. Next add cooled, melted margarine. Then flavoring of your choice. Mix. Add flour and baking powder to the egg mixture. Mix, being sure to scrape unincorporated flour from the side. Dough will be sticky enough to drop from spoon.

Heat Pizzelle iron. Spray well with Pam. Drop dough by teaspoonfuls onto the heated iron. Press shut and cook for about 1/2 to 1 minute depending. Cooking time will vary slightly from one pizzelle iron to the next. Discard first cookies. Repeat process. Stack cookies on a wire rack to cool. Store cookies in a cardboard box lined with wax paper. Can be stored like this for weeks at room temperature. Do NOT store in airtight tupperware or they will become soggy.

©, 2011.
Photos by suebthefoodie. ©, 2011.
Recipe shared with me by Shirley May.
  1. I use my grandmother’s pizzelle maker and it brings back wonderful memories of her. I usually make vanilla and almond and they are enjoyed by all. Thank you so much for taking your time to share your memories with us and making us remember parts of our past. Love your blog, Sue!

    • I love vanilla and especially almond. New Year’s Resolution. Improve the frequency of my posts for DeeDee one of my first loyal followers. I really appreciate the time you take to leave me comments. Keeps me motivated. This writing thing is new to me. I know you will be baking up a storm. SueB

  2. What can I say…another wonderful story, recipe and time taken to transport us all back to Grandma’s kitchen. Loved seeing this in my inbox, love the story, the recipe and you…Good Work!!

  3. I remember that cardboard box on top of china cabinet! I want that china cabinet! Dad and I would sneak them. I redd up the crumbs on blue carpet. Funny thing though, I think I remember yours and peanut blossoms more then grandmas. You are making tradition for my boys too! Love you! I could eat my body weight in whatever u make!!

    • Thank you Lori. That one had me laughing. Wish you were here baking/eating with me. Love you baby sis. Enjoy your new beginning. So proud of you! XO SueB

  4. Thanks for sharing! I’ve definitely seen these cookies before but can’t recall ever tasting them. The mission is on!

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