Thursday, September 22, 2016

Orange Cookies "Courtesy of Gummy"

You know how sometimes things just strike you? Like you see them and you know that you're looking at something special, something lasting... the kind of thing that crosses generational lines?

Kim and Vicki at the Hilton Post Office where we shared Gummy's love!
That's how I felt when I saw Stephanie Karfelt's post about Gummy.

Gummy is in a memory care unit. Gummy's world is falling into disarray via the wretchedness of dementia. Bits of this and half-memories of that combine to create a confusing, contradictory day for the Gummy's of this world. What was isn't what is, and what is can't be remembered.

Farmer Seth, taking a quick cookie break, sharing Gummy's love!
It's a world of phone calls and escape attempts and hospital visits and fear and confusion. It's a world we all want changed as we pray for a cure for Alzheimers and any dementia-related illness.

Stephanie's poignant posts about Gummy caught my eye.  Stephanie writes with a warmth and poignancy that makes the scene come alive and you smile like you did watching Home Improvement, knowing it's funny on TV... but not so funny in your living room.

Betty and Jim Stilson, sharing Gummy's love!!!
Then she found this recipe for Gummy's orange cookies. The minute I saw it there, in Gummy's handwriting, I knew I had to swipe it! I had to try it and tell you all about it because if orange cookies can live on, then YES!!! A part of Gummy lives on, the normal, natural, funny part her family knew before age and disease began messing with her brain.

I tweaked a couple of things (Stephanie, DON'T TELL GUMMY!!!!!)

I used less baking powder than the recipe called for because I didn't want them too puffy... And I used powdered sugar for a softer dough.

My brother Terry Herne, enjoying Gummy's orange cookies!!!
But the proof is in the taste-testing! And folks L-O-V-E-D Gummy's cookies! We began a "Sharing Gummy's Love" campaign and had LOTS OF PEOPLE sharing these amazing cookies. And they loved them!!!!!

Isn't it funny how something as simple as a cookie can make such a difference in a person's day? These cookies made folks smile. They made them laugh. And when I told them Gummy's story, they sighed and nodded and didn't laugh because they understood that there was nothing funny about Gummy's prognosis... but they still Loved Her Cookies!

Becky Prophet enjoying some of Gummy's love!!!
So here it is, according to Gummy.... a cute, sprightly elder lady with a fun smile...

And I hope you love them!

Gummy's Orange Cookies:

2 eggs
1 cup butter
2 cups sugar (I used powdered sugar for a slightly softer dough)
4 cups flour
1 cup sour milk*
1 teaspoon soda
2 teaspoons baking powder (I used one so they wouldn't puff up too much)
Rind from one orange. Juice, also. (don't you love that direction????? I grated the rind, then squeeeeeezed the juice and added 1/4 cup of orange juice to the mix)

Grated Orange Rind......
*Milk can be soured by adding 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to one cup of milk and letting it sit for five minutes or so.

Cream butter and eggs.
Add sugar and milk and mix thoroughly.  Add orange juice and orange rind.

Add flour and soda slowly.

Bake at 350° for about ten minutes.... I take them out before they start to turn golden because I love soft, chewy cookies. Leaving them in longer gives you a more crispy bottom.

The recipe says to grease and flour pan, but I used parchment paper instead. They cooked perfectly even top and bottom, like showcase cookies!!!!

Stephanie had an icing recipe, but I used this one instead:

Orange Icing:

1 stick butter (8 oz.)
4 cups powdered/confectioner's/10X sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
Shredded rind from second orange

Soften butter. Add sugar and orange juice. Blend slowly, then whip for 4 minutes. Add orange rind, then beat long enough to mix it into frosting.

Frost cooled cookies....

And what does The Little Princess think of these???

She went all in! :)

These cookies are/were amazing... but more amazing is the love that transcends time, age and disease... the kind of love that realizes how delicate the balance of brain and body are, and how we are the sum of so many things... things we don't necessarily understand or appreciate until we lose them.

So keep Gummy and Stephanie and the family in your prayers, and let's all make it a point to someway, somehow: Share Gummy's Love.

It doesn't have to be orange cookies. It could be knitting or crocheting or pumpkin rolls or eggplant parm... but we can keep the past alive while the present tries to defeat us by sharing "Gummy's" love.

Ruth Logan Herne likes being Stephanie's friend.... because they both love great books and they met at a book signing! Go figure! Ruthy also loves to connect with readers, so head on over to facebook and friend her, or stop by her website and see what's going on!


  1. What a sweet story, Ruthy. I've really enjoyed Stephanie's posts about her mother. And these cookies look amazing! I can't wait to try them.

    1. Oh my gosh, they're so good! They melt in your mouth with citrussy goodness!!!!!

  2. Ah, what a sweet post.

    I make my grandmother's sugar cookies for the same reason - to remember her before Alzheimer's crept in to rob her of some of her favorite memories.

    I make my mom's favorite Christmas treats for the same reason - to remember Christmases with her grandchildren...before the Alzheimer's stole her from us.

    And even though I hate jigsaw puzzles, I bring one out every Christmas after dinner and presents are over...because that's what Mom and Grandma did.

    When your family has suffered the loss of a loved one through Alzheimer's, you learn to love the things they loved. Just one way to keep the memories alive.

    And it works. Every time I make these orange cookies, I'll think of Gummy. :)

    1. Yup.... and the joy lives on long after the shadow of disease fades away.

      I think when kids hear these stories, of where things come from or why we do things, it brings family alive for them in a whole new way. How wonderful is that???

  3. I know when I make these (and I will definitely be making them) I'll think of your Gummy story and in turn will be reminded of my father and my dear friend's husband, both of whom had Alzheimer's. When I think of them and a particular food, I associate my father's "a little of this and a pinch of that" recipe for pancakes, and my friend's hubby's love of licorice, but I'll bet they both would have loved these cookies, too.

  4. I have a recipe almost identical from my great Auntie Grace, 1898-1995. She died of old age, but did suffer with dementia. If you use real buttermilk they turn out even more amazing!

  5. These sound delicious but honestly, Ruthy, I hope that's your spam email account because I just about had heart palpitations at the number of unread messages in your inbox!

  6. It was pure providence that got me up early one morning to attend one of your book signings. Thank you for sharing Gummy's Orange Cookies! I won't mention the recipe tweaking to her, not that she'd mind at all. When I told her that a writer wrote an article about her cookies, she offered to give me her autograph.

    Gummy is a clever, fierce, sweetheart of a woman, a lovely human being, and like so many others, struggling through each day with this cruel disease. Thank you for seeing the love in the chaos, and sharing some of your own. And next time I make these cookies I'm going to try it with your tweaks, and add in Kathleen's idea of using buttermilk!