my mother’s glazed ginger shortbread

September 26, 2017

My blog seems to have taken a turn towards the personal lately. I’ve never, ever, revealed quite so much about myself. I always stayed in that safe, neutral, careful [boring] territory. But now that I’ve started down the track of disclosure, it appears I’ve opened the floodgates. And who knows where I’ll finish up?

Last week, after a long and valiant battle with Parkinson’s, my mother died. My editor, Jan Murphy, truly one of the finest people I know, let me write this tribute to my mum, in my food column, “The Dish,” in the Kingston Whig-Standard.

“Recently, as I sat with my dying mother, I couldn’t help but think of the times we’d spent together in the kitchen, of the meals we’d shared and dishes we’d cooked together. Of Christmas dinners past, and Thanksgivings, and roast lamb Easter dinners.

 I was recalling hundreds of images of my mother in the kitchen. Of her putting down preserves for the winter. Jars upon jars of chutneys and jams sealed with wax, and “pickled beetroots” — her favourite. Or rolling pastry for meat pies. Making ginger shortbread or Yorkshire Parkin, and stirring the Christmas pudding mixture and fruit cake, long before winter set in.

I was thinking of my mother picking blackcurrants, and gathering baskets of strawberries to make jam, or gathering wild crabapples for crabapple jelly. Of her making fudge, peering at the old candy thermometer with its microscopic numbers. Of Sunday night dinners of roast beef and Yorkshire puddings covered in gravy; fish on Fridays; and the ambitious dinner parties she threw for friends with homemade chicken liver pate, savoury soufflés and Beef Wellington. Once she made a Charlotte Russe d’Erable — a luscious cream and maple centre surrounded by ladyfingers standing upright around the edge. My father dubbed it “tombstone torte,” a name that stands to this day.

A food column might be a strange place for an obituary or In Memoriam piece, but the truth is food stories are the real stories of our lives.” [To continue reading, please follow the link here to the Kingston Whig-Standard.]

My mother's glazed ginger shortbread

My Mother's Glazed Ginger Shortbread

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

For the shortbread:

  • ½ cup (120 grams) butter, room temperature or slightly softened
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp ground ginger
  • pinch of salt

Using a hand-held electric beater, mix together the butter and sugar. Add the flour, baking powder, ginger and salt and mix until crumbly. Press the mixture into a lightly buttered 8-x8-inch square pan or, as my mother used, an 8-inch tin pie plate. (I use a glass pie plate.) Bake at 350 F for about 15-18 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from the oven and set to cool.

For the glaze:

  • 2 tbsp butter, melted
  • 1 tbsp Lyle’s Golden Syrup (corn syrup will do in an emergency)
  • 2/3 cup icing sugar
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • pinch of salt

Melt together the butter and Lyle’s Golden Syrup on the stove, or in the microwave. Add the icing sugar, ginger and pinch of salt. Stir until mixed. Spread over slightly cooled shortbread. Cut in thin wedges (or bars if you used a square pan). Store in an airtight tin. Serve with a good cup of tea.

Barbara Sutcliffe


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  • Reply Stacey Bender September 26, 2017 at 3:11 am

    Beautiful remembrance of your Mother, her beginning, middle and food. Let there always be food. And good memories of those we will always love.

    • Reply Patricia Ann Doyle November 18, 2017 at 4:02 pm

      Lundy the pudding sounds delightful. Because of allergies could you let me know if the pudding fro. cookes is nut free. Love your blog.

      • Reply Lindy January 1, 2018 at 3:06 pm

        Dear Patricia Ann,
        Thank you for writing and my profuse apologies for not answering sooner.
        Somehow after I wrote this post above (about my mother) I just couldn’t come back to my blog. I kept meaning to but simply couldn’t face it. So I have only just read your comment and question today, much to late to be any use to you. I’m so sorry.
        I did look up the ingredient list for the King George Pudding (it was SO delicious) on their website. – it doesn’t contain nuts but is made in a factory where dairy, sesame seeds, nuts and eggs may be present.
        Very best wishes for the happiest of New Years to you.

    • Reply Lindy January 1, 2018 at 2:57 pm

      Stacy – I finally today, this first day of 2018, had the heart and courage to open my blog back up and read the comments on this post. Thank you for writing. Happiest of New Years to you. Look forward to catching up.

  • Reply Yana September 26, 2017 at 5:32 am

    Lovely post, lovely memories..

    • Reply Lindy January 1, 2018 at 3:06 pm

      Thank you Yana and Happy New Year!

  • Reply Johanne Lamarche September 26, 2017 at 8:06 am

    I think I would have loved your mum Lindy. Wonderful loving tribute. Thank you for inviting us to get to know your mother through your words. Hers was a life well lived and well loved.

    • Reply Lindy January 1, 2018 at 3:08 pm

      And Johanne – my mother would have loved you because she loved all things French! Thanks for the comments and apologies for my absentia.
      Happiest of New Years to you.

  • Reply Tasty Eats Ronit Penso September 26, 2017 at 2:13 pm

    Sorry for your loss! No wonder it bring up memories. I think a food column is actually prefect for an obituary. Food brings people together and such fond memoirs are a celebration of a person’s life.
    The shortbread looks so good. Love the glaze! No doubt your mother was a fabulous cook. 🙂

    • Reply Lindy January 1, 2018 at 3:09 pm

      Thanks Ronit – it is lovely to hear from you and I’m sorry I’m so sporadic a blogger. Look forward to seeing what you’ve been up to. And a very happy New Year to you.

  • Reply Janice S. September 27, 2017 at 9:14 pm

    So nice to read your lovely memories of your Mother. We had some nice times visiting with her the past two years, reading poetry, listening to music, admiring the flowers and even at times, just watching her sleep. She was always a fine lady and very well spoken and just the best manners. She never missed saying “thank you for coming”, even when she was very ill. Our condolences to you and your brothers and families from NBP Hospice friends.

    • Reply Lindy January 1, 2018 at 3:14 pm

      Dear Janice, thank you so much for this comment – which we spoke about briefly at my mother’s funeral. And my profuse gratitude to you and the NBP Hospice Friends for your beautiful care of my mother and all the incredible work you do in the community. I know it was a hard year in Lion’s Head last year with so many tragedies. I hope 2018 brings you great peace and joy.

  • Reply chef mimi October 1, 2017 at 10:14 am

    What a beautiful memoriam piece. So nice that you had such a bond with food and cooking. She sounds like quite a woman!

    • Reply Lindy January 1, 2018 at 3:15 pm

      Mimi, my friend, thank you for the comment and all the very very best to you for 2018. I’ve been away from the blogosphere for a while but cannot wait to see what you are up to. Love the posts of your BEAUTIFUL family on Facebook.
      Lindy xox

  • Reply theresakishkan October 15, 2017 at 11:32 pm

    A beautiful tender elegy. And a gorgeous recipe to savour. Thank you for both…

    • Reply Lindy January 1, 2018 at 3:17 pm

      Theresa, I’m a reluctant blogger it seems. And once I wrote this post, I just could not bear to return to my blog. But it is a New Year and I’m turning the page, so to speak. Look forward to reading you again. And all the best to you for a year of joy and abundance and beautiful inspiration. xo

  • Reply Anita Kushwaha October 17, 2017 at 11:25 am

    I’m so sorry to hear about your mom. Healing vibes to you. This was a lovely post and article. xo

    • Reply Lindy January 1, 2018 at 3:19 pm

      Anita! Thank you. I’m very slow replying. 2017 was a rough year. But it is 2018 now and I’m starting again! Happiest of New Years to you and look forward to reading you soon. xoxo

  • Reply Karen October 19, 2017 at 9:37 am

    I’m so sorry to hear of your mother’s passing, Lindy but what a lovely tribute you have written about her. I’m sure she is smiling down on you with loving approval. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and your mother’s recipe. When I make it, I’ll think of you both.

    • Reply Lindy January 1, 2018 at 3:21 pm

      Thank you Karen – I’ve been gone from my blog since I wrote this post about my mother but am finally back and so happy now, to read all the heartwarming comments. Happiest of New Years to you. Looking forward to seeing what you are up to. xox

  • Reply FrugalHausfrau December 22, 2017 at 5:47 pm

    My condolences, Lindy; I just realized I hadn’t stopped by for awhile and saw your piece. Food truly weaves us together, person to person, generation to generation. It is a lovely and fitting tribute. I hope to see you back here when you’re up to it.


    • Reply Lindy January 1, 2018 at 3:33 pm

      Dear Mollie – it is true that food weaves us together. As MFK Fisher said, ‘There is a communion of more than our bodies when bread is broken and wine drunk.’
      And tying into what you wrote above – yes – the generation to generation aspect of food is so important. I believe in this so much! I’m working on a new book – another culinary history book due out late in 2018 – and am excited about the idea that food is a gateway to very real history – often to women’s history – which has been so overlooked and yet, so fundamental.
      After I wrote about my mother, I just could not bear to open my blog back up again. But your comment helped me decide to get back to it – so thank you for your words which somehow struck a deep chord. Happiest of New Years to you.
      Lindy xo

  • Reply FrugalHausfrau January 1, 2018 at 3:39 pm

    Bless your heart, Lindy. I’ve lost my Mom, too, but years ago. I know about grief and how it can take your breath away and turn your life topsy turvy. I’m excited about your new endeavor, though, and I’m wishing your joy and ease and healing in the New Year!


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