Last year, Josh's grandma sent me her recipe for a traditional Swedish cookie that she had learned from her mother-in-law, Hilma Lenberg - she called her "Mother Lenberg". It is a cookie that Josh has enjoyed on Christmas almost every year of his life. She and Josh's great-aunt Eileen came over last year and Evelyn watched over me as I mixed the dough. We were in the kitchen on our own and our conversation turned to Joshua, as it usually did. She adored him. She told me how lucky he was to have found me. She said that she could see what good care I took of him and pointed out just how wonderful he is. Then, she said 3 magic words, "I love you." I remember pausing and looking at her as I was taken a little off guard. I had loved her since the moment I met her. I gave her a big hug and said, "I love you too." It was sort of like a floodgate. After she said it once, she said it a few more times that night. I remember that after Josh took her home, he told me that she told him just how much she loved me the entire way home.
We talked to her early last week. She called to talk about Josh's great-aunt Dorothy passing. She talked to Josh for a little while and then Josh turned the phone over so she could speak to me. We chatted for a few short minutes about Dorothy and Christmas. I asked when I could bring her over some Pepparkakors and her Christmas gift. Thinking the conversation was over, I told her that I loved her. But, she had more to say and talked for a few more minutes and then she was very careful to remember to say, "I love you too" at the very end. And those were her very last words to me.
I know that my sadness can only be a small fraction of what Josh and his family must feel. I only got to know her for a short time, but my heart feels heavy and I have a feeling that it will feel this way for quite some time.
Bake 375 degrees
Heat the following ingredients in a pot on the stove at a medium temp. Mix well.
2 c. sugar
1 bottle mild molasses
1 stick margarine
1 c. crisco
Cool and add 3 well-beaten eggs. Then, mix the following items.
6 c. flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 tsp cloves
2 1/2 tsp ginger
2 1/2 tsp all spice
2 1/2 tsp cinnamon
Add the two mixtures together slowly and refrigerate over night. The next day, roll the dough thin. It is best to do a little at a time and leave the remainder of the dough in the fridge so that it stays cool. The molasses makes the dough get sticky pretty easily. Also, be very generous with the flour when you roll the dough. It will make it a lot easier. Don't overcook. They get a little hard if they are in the oven for too long.
Evelyn's contribution to this recipe was adding icing and cutting the cookies into fun shapes. Traditionally, Hilma would cut them round and add just a half of an almond in the center. Also Evelyn noted that Hilma preferred Briar Rabbit Molasses but that she was never able to find that brand here in Arizona. I have used Grandma's (gold label).
Her icing contained powder sugar, hot water and a dash of vanilla. She didn't know the exact amounts of them. I just had to sort of play around with it until it was the consistency that would work best.