Today is my grandmother Martha’s birthday. If my dates are correct, she would have been 87.
Grandma wasn’t known as a great cook. In fact, there are a lot of family jokes about her cooking: the shoe leather beef, the salmon patties, and the pressure-cooked spaghetti (I am not kidding). But even she had a few culinary successes, things that only she knew how to make and that we still crave to this day.
One of these was “Moon Cookies”. A simple parve, sugar cookie recipe with the addition of 1/4 cup of poppy seeds.
As a child, I didn’t understand why the cookies were named “Moon,” I just loved the hard, biscuity texture and the nutty, poppy seed flavor. I could eat a plateful of them if Grandma let me.
Now I know that “Moon” is an anglicized version of the Yiddish mon or mun, which means poppy seed. Knowing that, though, doesn’t take any of the magic away.
Martha’s Moon Cookies
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup poppy seeds
1 teaspoon vanilla
- Combine all ingredients in a bowl, stirring to combine fully.
- Round up and refrigerate in a plastic bag (or covered bowl) for an hour or so, until the dough has firmed up.
- Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Roll chilled dough out to 1/4″ thickness.
- Bake for about 20 minutes.
- Cool on a rack.
When I read that poppy seeds were in the cookies I was going to tell you that this probably was a recipe of German origin, because the German word is “Mohn”. But you’ve obviously found that out yourself…
Yes, exactly! I figured “moon” was Yiddish, and from there the connection to German is clear. But you’re right that the recipe itself is probably originally German.