Happy Birthday, Irma!


My sister reminded me that today is Irma Rombauer’s birthday. For those of you who don’t refer to your Joy of Cooking by her name, she is the author of Joy of Cooking, my kitchen dictionary. Irma is also my kitchen diary; following in my mother’s footsteps, I use the back, blank pages to record my annual Christmas baking. It’s not such an impressive list as my mom’s, yet; she used to host enormous open houses throughout the holiday season, and her cookie baking would extend into dozens of batches. But I’m getting there, and we’ll be home for Christmas this year (with my parents visiting!) so there’ll be ample opportunity to add to the list.

Here’s what I’ve baked in the past:

Christmas ’98 (dissertation-writing)
bourbon balls
speculatius
chocolate/almond biscotti
pfeffernusse
lemon butter stars
coconut palm trees
gingerbread men
almond crescents
chocolate crinkle cookies
chocolate/chocolate mint chip cookies
raspberry thumbprints

no record of 1999 (job market) or 2000 (my first married Christmas)

Christmas 2001 (pregnant)
bourbon balls
speculatius
pfeffernusse
lemon cornmeal stars
coconut palm trees
gingersnaps
chocolate crinkle cookies
chocolate glazed toffee bars
raspberry thumbprints

no record of 2002, because we were hospitalized with a very sick baby

Christmas 2003 (21-month old baby)
pneumonia, strep throat, bronchitis and truffles

no record of 2004, as we were packing up the house to renovate

Christmas 2005 (7-month old baby; our house under renovations)
gingerbread men
lemon polenta stars

Christmas 2006 (Ben helping with the baking!)
speculatius
gingerbread men
chocolate crinkle cookies
pistachio-cranberry cookies
chocolate-dipped candied orange peel

Tomorrow, I’ll post the batter-stained recipe to which my Joy of Cooking falls open when I pull the book off the shelf.

2 Comments

  1. Daphne says:

    My favorite Christmas recipe from JoC is the cinnamon stars! I was enchanted by your “let the book fall open” idea and did it myself. It opened to the page with the Plum Cake Cockaigne (because that’s where the little red ribbon attached to my copy’s spine lay). I have never made ANY of the recipes you mentioned so I see I need to branch out.

  2. Daphne says:

    I sifted through your archives to find this post again because I want to try some of Irma’s other Christmas cookies. I’m tempted by the almond crescents (anything with nuts) and biscotti. Do you ever make meringues? I’ve got to figure out what to do with 6 egg whites!! (BTW I replied to your egg yolk question on my blog.)

Leave a Reply