Tea Cakes - the recipe | Eastern North Carolina Now

    Publisher's note: Please join me in welcoming Author Michele Rhem, who presents us with her poignant memoirs of the Rabbit Patch, where her diaries weave tales of a simpler, expressive life lost to many, but gathered together in her most familiar environs - the Rabbit Patch.

    Some of my favorite hours have always been in the kitchen. As a small child, I spent a good deal of my childhood in fields and woods. If I wasn't there, I was probably playing in a barn . . . If I was in the house, I was most likely in the kitchen.

    The women in my family cooked. In those days, processed food was in its' early stages. I never saw things like "instant potatoes", cake mixes and "Hamburger Helper". Of course, this meant someone was usually in the kitchen . . . peeling potatoes, often.

    The yellow and chrome kitchen table, in my grandmamas' house, was the best place I knew of to tell secrets or to solve a mystery. I also could count on someone being in the kitchen, in the circumstances of bee stings and skinned knees-or when I couldn't button a dolls' dress. "The heart of the home"-was always in the kitchen. Maybe my love affair with kitchens spawned from those days. . . when Mama, Grandmama, and Aunt Josie were making things like banana pudding or rolling out dough for chicken and pastry.

    Why cookies, of all things, have remained such a plight for me, is beyond me, but for the love of a grandchild, I will not give up. I can at least say now, I can bake "tea cakes" . . .and Lyla loves them.

    "Tea cakes" are a shortbread type of cookie, but more "cake like" in texture. They are often paired with iced tea, in the south, but they go very well with coffee, too. They are a simple concoction of a very few ingredients, unlike "store bought" cookies, that lists dozens of artificial substances, and do not lend the heavenly aroma to the kitchen, as the tea cakes do.

    1 cup soft butter

    1 1/2 cup of sugar ( I tend to spill just a little sugar more, in the bowl)

    1 tsp vanilla ( I spill vanilla too)

    2 eggs

    1/4 cup of milk

    3 cups self-rising flour


    Cream butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla together. Add flour and milk, slowly. Form dough into 2 loaves, and chill in freezer for about 20 minutes. By hand, form the chilled dough into small balls. Bake at 375 degrees, on a lightly floured cookie sheet-(I use a pizza stone), for ten minutes. Do not brown the cookies. This will make about forty cookies. I have halved the recipe, successfully. The cookies keep well for several days.

    You will not need to ring a dinner bell, when tea cakes are cooking.
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