The Empty Cookie Tin: A foodlogy for my aunt


I’ve never done anything like this before, and especially not here. But my Aunt Dolly, who passed away in fall 2008, had such a profound effect on my life – and my love of food – that I feel public respects should be paid. So I will pay them.

As feisty as they come, my aunt (really, great aunt) was a lover of classic Italian food and sweets of any kind. Back in the day, she made all of the standards – sauce, meatballs, braciole – but as far as I’m concerned, she only had two specialties: roasted red peppers and Toll House chocolate chip cookies.

I don’t know what, if anything, she did to make the peppers so good, but they were certainly the best among the cooks in my family. I’m fairly sure she marinated them with olive oil and garlic slices in the refrigerator before serving. Each sliver was a simple delicacy in itself, but even more potent when paired with a slice of fresh mozzarella.

However good the peppers were, however, Aunt Dolly will always be remembered for her perfectly addictive chocolate chip cookies. She never told us her secret, but for some reason, her cookies had a better consistency (not too cakey, not too flat) than virtually any Toll House I’ve eaten or made since. I suspect a good amount of love did the trick.

Her cookie packaging was also memorable. She would line an old cookie tin (like the one above) with aluminum foil, place the treats within and cover it back up with foil. This made it excruciatingly difficult to sneak cookies out, as the crinkling of the foil would always give you away. Even my dad, nowhere near the connoisseur of sweets that my mom and I are, could not keep his hands off. They were magic.

I could go on and on about the cookies, but really, it was the baker that made them special. If I could live up to even half of the warmth or generosity of her spirit, I will be happier than if I ever achieve a comparative batch of Toll House.

She was a great cook, a great aunt and a great lady. I miss her tons.



2 responses to “The Empty Cookie Tin: A foodlogy for my aunt

  1. You captured the spirit of the woman. She
    was a most caring person. She put in a personal touch to her cooking that gave her dishes a distinctive flavor. If we could ever find a crumb, I would send it to the Smithsonian to keep in memory of her. She was a wonderful woman.

  2. Your aunt sounds like a great cook, and a kind soul. And you’re right, it’s not the ingredients but the love that goes into each dish that makes it… I’m sure that more than a bit of her lives on in you, from the love of good cooking that she passed on to you, and the enthusiasm I’ve seen time and time again on this blog for the simple pleasure of a good meal well done.

    Great post.

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