Family recipes are something that I cherish. When my mamaw passed away, I was blessed to receive her recipe box filled with her go-to recipes. There are many in there that I don’t remember her making, but there are a few that, when I make them, I am reminded of happy memories. These are my comfort foods.
Did you know that it’s been proven that a smell can invoke a happy memory for you? There’s a bit of medical jargon I could put here to explain what causes this to happen. Still, if you’re like me, medical terminology goes swiftly over my head, and I’m usually left more confused than enlightened.
The dumbed-down version is that odors go directly to a part of the brain that controls memory and emotion. Therefore, when I make my mamaw’s ice box brownies, which I’ll share below, that smell always reminds me of baking them with her. The same thing can happen when we taste something linked to a memory. My grandfather used to make a hamburger casserole for us. It was just a mixture of hamburger meat, cream of chicken soup, tomatoes, and macaroni noodles covered in shredded cheese. I still have the recipe I wrote down when I was a kid. I made it recently for my mom and aunt, and that meal also led to great conversations about him and their childhoods.
The fact that we can use taste and smell to feel that sense of happy nostalgia fascinates me. It makes me think, “Why don’t we use this to our advantage?” For example, suppose there’s a recipe you loved having your mom make growing up or a recipe for a tasty dessert your grandmother would make on a memorable holiday. So why not make it for yourself today? Serve it at a dinner party with other family memories so they may experience the nostalgia with you.
If you’re a mom like me, you want to make memories for your kids. What if you took their favorite recipe and continued to make it through their childhood? When they are older, give them the recipe to make when they no longer live at home. The first time they make it, they’ll be reminded of the happy memories they had growing up, eating that meal, surrounded by their family. This takes the words “comfort food” to a whole new level.
I know my mamaw’s brownie recipe may not ignite a happy memory for you, but they are so good not to share. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.
- 2 c. sugar
- 1/2 c. cocoa
- 1 c. Crisco (solid)
- Pinch salt
- 4 eggs
- 1/2 c. Pet Milk
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla
- 1 c. self-rising flour
- 1 c. nuts (optional)
- 1 lb. confectioners’ sugar
- Pinch salt
- 3 tbsp. cocoa
- 3/4 stick margarine (melted)
- Pet Milk
- Cream sugar, Crisco, butter, and salt
- Add remaining brownie ingredients and mix well
- Bake in greased and floured 13″x9″ pan
- Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes
- Mix confectioners’ sugar, salt, cocoa, and margarine
- Add just enough pet milk until spreading consistency.
- Spread on warm brownies
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