A Spoonful of Sugar

Dear Adair,

My mouth watered at remembering your chicken pot pie. My mouth also laughed at your picture of my childhood. True, my mom stayed at home and cooked three meals damn near every day. But I don’t think we have a windowsill in my parents house that is wide enough for a pie to properly cool. Think less Leave it to Beaver more That 70’s Show.

Food was always important in my house. Whether it was as hot dogs and baked beans for lunch or as anticipated as my mom’s famous beef stew, every meal was a moment. My mom worked hard to always have good food in the house and to prepare meals that I think would blow up on Instagram today (if my mom had a smartphone or knew what Instagram was).

My mom cultivated a solid collection of recipes over the years. The aforementioned stew that had the power to make anyone want to stay for dinner, to a tuna casserole that was, for twenty years, the only delivery method for eating mushrooms that I would utilize. She made chilis, soups and Saturday pancakes off a sacred griddle. She curated her list of culinary staples, adding and subtracting over the year with the help of a Better Homes and Gardens cookbook from the 70’s and a few family recipes (like my grandma’s chocolate chip cookies).

The list of foods my mother made, in our orange kitchen that was older than her cookbook, could go on and on. She cooked a lot, she still does. And I look forward to eating her food every time I’m home. I would dare say that home is where the stomach is would have been a far more accurate sentiment. But of all the things my mother makes, there is one recipe that stands above the rest. It passes beyond the point of reverence and into something closer to myth. And while you might read that as hyperbole, I can promise you it is not.

To put it plainly, my mother makes the best damn shortbread cookies you will ever have.

Every year, as I settled into my Thanksgiving food coma and watched the Bond-a-thon, I would smile in the knowledge that soon shortbread season would be upon on us.

From raw dough, to fresh from the oven, to a week old, to the crumbs left on the plate, every year I would devour shortbread in every form it existed in. But somehow, a few pieces got away from me and found there way to neighbors and friends. And so the legend grew.

One December while I was attending the University, I decided I wanted to spread the good word of shortbread to more people. Maybe it was the Christmas spirit or maybe I was homesick, but ever since I have been making shortbread for friends. Just like mom does.

It’s a tradition that I hope my kids will someday also be a part of. My mom tried to tell me that now that I make it, it’s my shortbread. But I corrected her. From now until the end of time, let this be known as Robyn’s Scottish Shortbread.

Getting baked,



-2 Cup Flour- -3/4 Cup Sugar- -1/4 Tsp. Slat-
-1 Cup Softened Butter- -1Tsp. Vanilla- -a secret ingredient I won’t put on the internet-

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. In a large bowl mix the dry ingredients. Add vanilla and butter and secret ingredient. Mix the butter in by hand (Like you’re playing with Playdough. Squeeze and release. This kneading will cover you in sugar and butter and give you something fun to lick off).  After the dough has formed, work it into one big ass ball. Cut that ball in half. Each half is then placed on a 12″ baking round. Push the round down like you’re making a pizza crust. Once you have a 10″ disk o’ dough, you have to “fork it.” Basically you make tiny dents in the dough with a fork until it looks as pocked as the bad guy from Grease. Through it in the oven for 25-30min and after taking it out sprinkle a light dusting of sugar. Cut it while it’s still warm, 5min after pulling it out. Let cool and eat until you feel sick.


  1. Thanks Dan, for the compliments. It’s very sweet. I have to say, though, that your directions
    for making shortbread are, well, a little more colorful than mine. But, I guess it gets the idea across. Of course, without the one secret ingredient it isn’t going to work quite so well.
    It is perfectly all right with me if you tell the secret ingredient.

    Shortbread will be waiting at Christmas time.