Thursday, December 24, 2015

Ossi De Morte (Dead Bones)

Happy Christmas Eve!

I know it has been a while since I have posted, but it has been an interesting few months!! This fall, I have been working at three local colleges which has kept me running in every direction and in July, I had a bit of a surprise visit by some cells that, well, just weren't quite right... (we don't like to use the real word!) It took months, but as we know, bouncing back is what I do!

And now it is Christmas! My little dog and I have made it home to PA and there is so much to be thankful for. I am with the people that I love and in a place that I will always call home. To see my parent's Christmas tree and be with the people who are most dear to my heart is what Christmas is all about for me! I am so happy to be here and I am happy to share this recipe with you. I guess you can say it is my little Christmas gift to you! Thank you for reading and supporting me!

So let's get down to the story of this recipe! This is the perfect time to share the story of my Gram H. who the "Biscotti" portion of this blog is inspired by. The recipe that you see here has been part of the Italian side of my family for a very long time. My great-grandmother used to make this recipe when my Gram and her 5 siblings were young. Like most families in my area, many of my great-grandparents were immigrants who came through Ellis Island. They came from their countries for a chance at a better life and for work opportunities. Upon settling in Western PA, both sides of my family earned their living and supported their families by working in the coal mines. This is what almost every man in my area did for generations.

So, this is the recipe that my great-grandmother used to bake. It has a cute little story that has been repeated many times in my family; especially when my Gram and her siblings get together. After my great-grandmother used to make these little half cookie/ half candy gems, she would store them in a tin in the pantry.  In the winter (before the times of global warming,) my Gram and her siblings would bundle up in their warm clothes and head outside into the snow. On the way outside, they used to sneak into the pantry,  open the tin of cookies and take "just a few" to fill up their pockets; thinking that their Mother didn't notice. The brothers and sisters would head out to the big sled riding hill where all of the neighborhood kids congregated. Unfortunately, they did not have a family sled to join in on the snowy fun. But what they did have was pockets full of Ossi de Morte which they used as cash to buy rides on the other children's sleds. Only two of these small wonders would get them a ride down the hill and a place in the lore of the town. While they didn't have the money to buy a sled, they had the ingenuity and the camaraderie that brothers and sisters have when there was something that was really important to them. There is nothing like the bond of family! Still to this day, in tough times, my Gram reminds me that I am descendant of this strong family and that I can solve any problem or overcome any diversity.

Despite the hard circumstances they ran into growing up, the happy times always float up! You can see it in my Gram's face when she tells the stories of her family. And rarely does she tell a story that is about bad times! It is the good we remember as family and those moments are the ones that hold us together this special time of year.  So, this Christmas. fill up your pockets with these cookies or something else that is special to your heart and hand them out; not as a type of currency but as a way to say "I love you" to family and friends.

Merry Christmas to you and yours!!

Rebecca and Dexter

Ossi De Morte

These were made by my Mom. The photo was also taken by her tree in PA.

These cookies are named Ossi De Morte or Dead Bones because when they are cooked they resemble finger bones or phalanges. They have a strong anise taste and the cookie portion is almost hollow. The candy portion is produced by the sugar that leaches out of the batter when you let them sit overnight. They are the best of both worlds!

3 large eggs- beat until fluffy
1 Tbsp. anise extract
1 box powdered sugar
2 1/2 cups sifted flour
6 tsp. baking powder added to flour

Mix all together and form dough into 2-3 balls.
Roll each ball out into 1 inch thick rope.
Cut 1 inch segments diagonally. Place dough about 1 inch apart on a slightly greased cookie sheet and cover over night with a tea towel. The cookies will look like they have "leaked or spread" overnight. This is OK. This is just the sugar that will form a slightly crunchy base.
Bake the next morning at 300-325 for 15 min making sure to not allow the bottoms of cookies get too brown or burn.

1 comment:

A lin said...

I love your stories about family and I love your recipes. I may have to give these a try. Thanks for sharing with all of us.

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