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 Yana September 26, 2017 at 5:32 am

    Lovely post, lovely memories..

  • 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 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 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 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 theresakishkan October 15, 2017 at 11:32 pm

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

  • 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 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.

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