Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Vegan MOFO - Day 20 - Remembering Aunt Jo

We lived close to most of our relatives growing up. This was a great thing as a kid. We got to spend a lot of time with our grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. My dad hated holidays and most people. In hindsite this had to stink for my mom. She forged on and made sure our holidays were always spent with the family. Christmas Eve was spent with my dad's side of the family and Christmas Day was spent at Aunt Jo's with my mom's side of the family.

Aunt Jo took over the matriarchal duties as my grandmother aged. She feverishly cooked a huge Thanksgiving feast for a crowd of 20 or so hungry relatives. I can remember the smells of her kitchen and the vast amount of food she cranked out. She had a pool table in her basement. It was covered up for the buffet spread. She would start the same process over for Christmas day. What I didn't appreciate as much then as I do now, is all of the hard work and love that went into her holiday cooking.

Aunt Jo was the one who made sure we all had a loving place to be on the holidays, even when the family was getting a bit crazy and fragmented. We lost Aunt Jo to breast cancer in October of 2006. Sadly those extended family dinners have been lost along with her. Here in AZ I do my best to bring our "family" together around the holidays. It is so important to be with those you love the most whenever you can, especially around the holidays. It is such a magical time. I think of Aunt Jo often when I am cooking the holiday feast.

My mom had this fantastic recipe for Pecan Balls. I loved those powdered sugar covered buttery treats. A few years after I moved to Arizona, she sent the recipe to us. It said Aunt Jo's Pecan Balls. I should have known this recipe came from her! She always had something going on in the kitchen or in the sewing room (a discussion that warrants it's own post). I took the easy way out on this one. I didn't have to do the conversion for her recipe. Terry Romero came up with a version in her new book Vegan Cookies Take Over Your Cookie Jar. She called them Nutty Wedding Cookies, I call them little snow balls of love. Thanks to Terry for bringing one of Aunt Jo's recipes back to life for me.


  1. But wait - where's the recipe?! Do we have to wait for the cookie book? That's just mean. ;) They look a little bit like my mom's cocoons, which are like butter (margarine when I make them!), flour, sugar, and nuts - the end.


    I'm sorry that you lost your aunt that way. But your reminiscences of your family remind me so much of my family it's spooky! My aunt's name is even JoAnn!

    It's not her that we lost though, it was my grandma. But when she went, the gatherings stopped. I miss those family holidays together. Recently I've been wanting to try to recreate the confections that I remember from my childhood at those great feasts... anyway, just wanted to say this post hit home. :)

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  3. The book is should be out anytime! The ingredients you mention are pretty much the ones in here I think. I'd have to look.

    Thanks about my aunt. It still seems so weird that she is gone. I live in another state and missed far too many of her celebrations before she passed away.

  4. I'm sorry you lost your Aunt Jo :( My Dad had cancer when I was a kid and I watched him battle it for years (thankfully he's still with us and has had no cancer for a long time, but I can empathize).

    Yay for special family favourites! Those cookies look wonderful! I'm in 2 minds about the cookie book, on the one hand....I must have it....on the other....oh the calories I really don't need! (Who am I kidding? I'll order it the day it comes out!)