Cooking is a book of life I can refer back to.  I love looking through my grandmother’s old cookbooks, or to rummage through yellowed scraps of paper with scribbled notes of treasured “receipts” from friends.

What I don’t understand is their terminology; what is a dollop?  A pinch or a smattering?  It seems that a handful of chopped nuts was enough, and you could just add a sprinkle of something to finish it off.

I became hungry for a taste of Aunt Georgia’s Hot Milk Cake the other day and found the recipe she had written for me when I was about twelve years old.  I tucked away everything I have learned through the years about baking and began.

The milk is heated until hot but not too hot.  OK, I’ve got that.  The usual flour, sugar and baking powder were pretty clear too.  Boy, is this going to taste good.  Then add butter the size of a walnut.  What!!  Using my skills as a sculptor, I carefully molded a walnut.  That is not easy ecause I buy my walnuts already cracked.  When we were poor I promised myself that when I could afford them I would never sit on the floor and crack a bag of walnuts again.  I’ve been buying cracked walnuts for a very long time now.

After putting all the ingredients together in what looked like a cake batter, I dipped a finger in and tasted it.  It was blah, so I added a little vanilla, and it was much better.

When I went to put it into the oven, the instructions told me to bake it in a “nice warm oven until it was done”.

I took out some old recipes of Grandma’s, and one sounded as if it might be a good sauce on the cake.  She wrote in her own hand in red ink several different versions of cherry sauce.  Then she wrote” spiced cherries are nice too—no recipe though.  At the end she wrote: “Don’t let me forget to send you my black berry jam.  It’s in the Kerr canning book.”

Her notes are still so dear to me, and she did turn out some delicious food—-written measurements or not.

And by the way, the cake was pretty lousy.  Not at all the way I remembered it from my childhood.  Maybe you had to be there.

I think every generation has memories of warm kitchens with our mothers, grandmothers and other women we have loved cooking the food which nourished not only our bodies but gave us memories to last all of our life.


Author: kaytisweetlandrasmussen83

I am a retired fine arts teacher, sculptor/painter, writer, and a native Californian. I love my family,dogs, horses, movies, reading and music, probably in that order. I have been married forever to a very nice man who is nice to old ladies, dogs and children.

6 thoughts on “WHAT THE HECK IS A DOLLOP?”

  1. The kitchen. Tutorials from mother & grandmothers ~priceless.

    My most prized posession is the handwritten journal of “secret” family
    recipes that was copied and handed down to me, after college, by my dad’s mom.

    She made everything from “scratch.” I incorporated my other grandmothers favorites to the composition and called it Perfection.

    1.The cover of my treasured book now sports a “dollop” of something or other.
    2.The result of my baking …………..sometimes we best keep that a “secret.”

    Without preservatives here and there, fake this, and imitation that……What old time recipe can possibly stand the test of time and NOT taste a little “blah.”

    Paula Dean (bless her downhome heart) can bake up a storm, and sling the slang. But, unfortunately the “good stuff” that master bakers share is not always good for you.

    Maybe our lousy tasting mishaps keep our loved ones from indulging heavily in things they shouldn’t really have anyway.

    Paula Dean~Although your food is to “die for”; being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes is not. Certainly, not the definition of sweet success.

    Spending time in the kitchen with loved ones. That’s what’s valuable about the journey. My mother/grandmothers have raised a successful bakers dozen.

    Shout out to all the Mom’s and Gram’s who’ve “carved” the way.


  2. Mom, I love our family cookbook and have throughout the years made some of our families little treasures. However, memories, are another thing, your pineapple upside down cake, I would love to eat all the candied nuts off the top before you served it. I also remember staying at Grandma’s house and having her make me her bacon and homemade bread with blackberry jam! Yum, the bacon was thick, crisp and delicious! That is why I probably am still a bacon girl. Cooking is fun and all the memories of fun times and memorable meals make it even more fun and meaningful! love you Mom!


  3. I learned to cook with my maternal grandmother, which my mother failed to do. Granny had one basic tenet: mix good things together and you will get something good. That simple tenet has served me good over the years…though it did frighten my wife and kids at times, without cause of course.


  4. We all have “favorites” from Grandmas and Aunties…Loved the post… I still have Gram’s White House Cookbook given to her in Fairlee, November 10, 1910…Numerous notations and recipes written on the backside of photo pages…Gram did love her recipes…I too wondered how to measure a “dollop”.. seemed to me she just took a hefty teaspoon full… that worked for many recipes! Judy


  5. How sweet it is..I remember vividly in waiting to eat the scrumptious cakes and pies and cookies…and on and on..and mother with her apron on,standing at the oven, pulling down the oven door and putting her hand all the way to the middle of the oven , ever so briefly and say”ummmmm, just the right temperature.” !! Sure enough, it would be cuz i don’t think there was ever a failure of ANYTHING that she had baked. ‘-D)
    Thank you for this lovely memory, Kayti


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