My parents – and my in-laws – like to tell us they’re cruising away our inheritance. Which is pretty much true.


But truer than that is the gift of so many memories. Last year, I wrote about love and cooking. Much of the time for me, these words are synonymous, though not exclusive. So many lessons of love were learned in my parents’ kitchen, and whether my children realize it or not, the lessons I offer them in my own kitchen are gifts of love – and down payments of their future inheritance.


I was reminded of this last night when my Dad emailed me, because he’d forgotten we recently changed our phone numbers to the Austin area code… while he and Mom were on a cruise, as it happens, spending our inheritance, of course.


Dad needed my Grandma’s peanut butter cookie recipe. Now, the context here is that Dad was calling from his sister’s house. Calling for their mother’s recipe. Which neither of them had.


I had to text my youngest brother to relay that I was evidently now the Keeper of All Family Recipes. Guardian of the Recipe Cards. The Recipe-ient. Top Chef?


I’m not sure exactly at what point all of these duties transitioned to me, but now my recipe box is evidently the Master. So I dug out my transcription of Grandma’s recipe [whatever has befallen the original???] and relayed the recipe to him so they could make the same cookies their Mom always made them.


I needn’t fear an estate tax. I have no land heading my way, nor titles, nor boxes of jewels. I have a greater chance of inheriting decluttering work than anything else, but I also have a wealth of love notes in the form of my family’s recipes. Most of which are already in my recipe box, but clearly many more to be gathered, not unlike the monks of yore copying ancient texts to prevent them from slipping into oblivion.


So while they aren’t anything revolutionary, I bequeath to you all one recipe, always made with love, by my Grandma, my Dad, and now by me.


Grandma Hamlin’s Peanut Butter Cookies


1 cup white sugar

1 cup brown sugar

1 scant cup shortening

1/4 tsp. salt

3 cups flour

1 cup peanut butter

2 eggs

2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. vanilla


Blend together sugars, shortening, salt, peanut butter, eggs, baking soda, and vanilla. Add flour and form into about 1” balls. Press down with fork tines, making a hash #. Bake at 375° for 10 minutes.


May you inherit memories a-plenty from your family, and may you pass them down like the finest of jewels.


What will your inheritance be? And what will those who come after you inherit from you?


Image credit: Saveur Magazine. Not even gonna Sarah Sanders you - I didn't make these cookies, but mine look basically just like this, as does essentially everyone else's.