I was sitting at the kitchen table sometime in February, jotting down a grocery list when it hit me: I should make a cookbook of my Grandma Murphy’s baking recipes.
My mom’s mom, Mary Murphy, has fed the hearts and bellies of three generations of Murphys with her fabulous cakes, pies, cookies and squares. She started cooking and baking when she and my grandpa, Jack Murphy, got married in 1943, which means she’s been baking for 70 years. She’s 91 years old now, so she’s not baking as often as she did when she was raising her five daughters, but she still makes muffins and the occasional pie (with homemade pastry, of course) or chiffon layer cake. Which is pretty mind-blowing if you ask me.
So, anyway, I got the idea to write, edit and photograph a collection of her recipes and set about making it happen. I ran the idea by my grandma and the next thing I knew, I was on the train to Windsor to spend the weekend with her, gather the recipes and record her stories about baking, family, life and love.
The recipes in this book are comfort food at its best: delicious, not-too-fussy treats that have been passed on from one generation of our family to the next. We each have our favourites, and we all have memories associated with these baked goods. For me, shortbread cookies conjure the warmth of family gatherings at Christmastime. I can’t look at a mocha torte without imagining my mother, Kathie, blowing out birthday candles. Those flaky tea biscuits will forever remind me of the time Grandma taught my brother, Colin, my cousin Julie and me how to make them, each of us eager for a turn to roll out the dough. And it’s impossible for me to make lemon meringue pie without remembering my dad, Harry, who loved the tangy tart.
I finished the book in September and had the pleasure of delivering the final product, Grandma Murphy’s Pantry, to my grandma in October. The cookbook also includes recipes from my mom and her sisters, who are all whizzes in the kitchen and inherited Grandma’s love of cooking, baking and feeding the people they love. Over the next couple of months I’ll be updating this blog with recipes, photos and stories from the book — because recipes this good are too tasty not to share.