friday feast: fishing for cookies

Newton and me at Grandma’s house.


by Jack Prelutsky

“Oh please take me fishing, oh please, pretty please,”
insisted my sister the pest.
She drives me bananas when she’s at her worst,
she bugs me when she’s at her best.

She wouldn’t give up, so I’ve got her along,
but I’ve not decided her fate.
Maybe I’ll patiently teach her to fish —
maybe I’ll use her for bait!

~ from A Pizza the Size of the Sun (Greenwillow Books, 1996).

* * *

Unlike the sister in Prelutsky’s poem, I was never a pest (*cough*), but the narrator sounds very familiar.

While my brother and Dad went fishing, I stayed home and played with my Ruthy doll and read Madeline’s Rescue. When it was time to take a picture of the day’s catch, I was only too happy to oblige. Even though I didn’t go fishing, this is still my favorite childhood picture. It hangs in our den and makes me very happy.

Newton and I spent a lot of time together growing up because we were latchkey kids. During the summer we rode our bicycles all over, bought fuzzy chicks at the carnival, tried to sell the macadamia nuts from my grandma’s tree, played marbles and ate hamburgers at Dairy Queen.

Even though he could be the “bossy older brother” sometimes,Β  and once even cut the hair off my Betsy McCall doll :(, somewhere along the line I earned his respect with my baking.

Yes, my brother likes me for my cookies.

Not just any cookies, but my Walnut Refrigerator Cookies. He can pass on most of my other specialties: Date Bars, Brownies, Midnight Chocolate Cake, Russian Tea Cakes — but he’s totally fixated on my Refrigerator Cookies.



When I still lived in Hawai’i,Β  I would bake them for him quite often. And once I left, he missed me a little, but missed those cookies more. A couple times I sent them to him in Christmas tins and once hand-carried a batch on a plane to Honolulu.

This week, for the first time in seven years, Newton and his family are visiting us here in Virginia. Months ago, my niece Julia told me how excited they were about their trip, and that her father was talking about Aunty Jama’s cookies. Apparently his trip wouldn’t be complete without them.

You can see I had my work cut out for me, but I hadn’t baked those cookies in seven years. It didn’t seem right, somehow, to bake them for just anyone, who probably wouldn’t appreciate them as much as Newton does. In his mind, they’ve reach some kind of iconic cookie cult status. Oh, the pressure!

So yes, dear reader, I made a batch. Perhaps Newton should write a poem called, “Oh Please Bake Me Cookies!” Butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, flour, and walnuts are my bait. I’m not a pest, but now I’ve got him hook, line and sinker. He’s under my roofΒ  and eating out of my hand. Have cookie, will travel. πŸ™‚

makes a lot

3 sticks butter
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
4 cups sifted flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cream of tartar
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 tsp. vanilla

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, beat well. Add vanilla, then stir in dry ingredients which have been sifted together. Add nuts and mix well.

Form 3 logs, wrap in wax paper, and refrigerate overnight. Slice and bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until brown.

* * *

The lovely Violet Nesdoly is hosting today’s Roundup. Click on through and check out the full menu of tasty poems and reviews being served up in the blogosphere this week.


Yes, he still likes to pose with his fish . . . and he’s having a birthday on Sunday. (Please tell him he doesn’t look a day over 45.)

Copyright Β© 2012 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

49 thoughts on “friday feast: fishing for cookies

  1. What a lovely lovely tribute to your brother, dearest Jama who looks like a strapping, handsome young lad of 28. Not a day older than 28, I swear *coughs and sneezes and coughs a little bit more.* The pictures look gorgeous, I have a cousin-in-law who’s also deeply into professional fishing and has won quite a few awards himself, as apparently it’s a sport. πŸ™‚ The cookies look delicious, Jama. Will definitely try your iconic recipe once I’m better. πŸ™‚


    1. 28? Are you wearing your glasses? (You really should see someone about that cough, too!) πŸ™‚

      I hope you’re better very soon so you can munch on these cookies, Myra. Take care.


  2. I love the way you tilt your head toward your big brother (who looks as if a big fish is an everyday occurrence) in the photo. Your story is delightful, filled with tradition and the love of family. Happy eating and enjoy your visit.


  3. Jama, my favorite part of this post: “makes a lot” πŸ™‚ And how adorable is that photo of you and Newton as youngsters!? You can bait me with these cookies ANY TIME. So happy for your visit with your brother! Thank you for sharing.


  4. I love everything about this post. It truly warms the cockles. Wonderful story, gorgeous photos, and a birthday boy who looks so good for 35. Have a fabulous visit with your big brother!

    Now about these cookies…what do you mean exactly by 3 blocks of butter? I have to convert to grams, so are 3 blocks like one or two cups, for example? Also, would this work just as well with toasted almonds? I haven’t baked in so long (on a diet), but these look perfect for summer. I must have them!


    1. 35??!! You also need glasses :). (I’m sure you made his day.)

      Each block = 1/2 cup, so 3 blocks = 1-1/2 cups

      I’m hopeless at converting to grams.

      I imagine you could use almonds too — I’ve made these with pecans and macadamia nuts. Walnuts are still the favorite, though.

      Hope you try them, and let me know how you like them!! Happy Weekend, Renee. πŸ™‚


      1. Blocks and sticks are synonymous in my mind. Wow — 3 lbs. would REALLY make a lot! I’ve never halved the recipe but I’m sure it can be done with good results. πŸ™‚


  5. Enjoy the cookies. Enjoy your brother! My memories of fishing are pretty similar. A book in the back seat of the car while the family touched all those wiggly worms and fins. Thanks for sharing this.


    1. Yay, a girl after my own heart. I could do without hooks and bait. But I must say, I always enjoyed eating all the fresh catches. πŸ™‚


  6. I can understand why you have the photo hanging-it’s so sweet, Jama. I love my brother too & am sorry we live so far apart, am happy for you that you have him visiting! Great photos all around. He must have continued fishing-what a photo there. Thanks for sharing the recipe-perhaps it’ll be a lure for my own brother! You must love the poem, fits beautifully! Happy birthday Newton!


    1. Newton still loves fishing — has his own boat and often pulls in some great catches. My favorite = mahimahi, different from the mahi we get on the mainland. His record catch was a 400 lb.+ marlin!


    1. Well, you’re just way too sweet, Debbi. Newton is basking in all the compliments. (If you feel like coughing any time soon, please feel free.)


    1. I’ll send you cookies, if you send me some of your mom’s homemade soup! Do you do any baking, Erik? I’m sure your sister isn’t a pest either . . . πŸ™‚


  7. That Perlutsky poem make my kids giggle. The first four lines define the relationship between Gearbox and Pickle.

    I love the picture of you and your brother. Thank you for sharing!


  8. I’m going to try those cookies with pecans (walnuts make my tongue itch)!!

    LOVE the updated “catch of the day” photo, and T. is right, Newton…not a day over forty!


    1. Wow, what a generous group! Newton’s head is now twice its original size. Let me know how the pecan version turns out for you, Mary Lee. Can’t have any itchy tongues.


  9. Oh, what a sweet post. Enjoy your time with your brother. I lost mine last year, but will always have fond memories of him scarfing down what he always called “THCs,” whether they were made from the Toll House package recipe or some other. And thanks for reminding me of Betsy McCall paper dollsβ€”I loved them!


    1. Sorry to hear you lost your brother, Michelle. Sounds like he was quite the cookie monster himself. I loved those Betsy McCall paper dolls too! Never cut them out of the magazine, though.


  10. I’m late, but better late than never. You are so cute in that picture! Both pictures! I love this story, too, because I can’t get enough of your Hawaiian memories and because my mother made these cookies, too. So it was exactly right that you made them in Virginia, not too far from where someone else did all that chopping and so forth in her kitchen.


    1. Yes, I do remember you mentioning your mom’s ice box cookies once. Something extra special about them — it’s nice to think of her making them not too far from my kitchen :).


  11. Boy those cookies look good (even in their dough stage). I could very easily become fixated on them.

    Love the photos of you and your bro. Family is so special. Have a delicious time together and make some more memories.


    1. Thanks, Violet! We had a wonderful visit and did indeed make some great new memories. If only we lived closer together — family is everything.


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