When Bob Tucker calls something “yummy,” you can bet the farm on it.
Bob’s wife Donna sent me her mother’s recipe for Scandinavian jelly drops, and believe me, “yummy” is almost too mild an adjective. They’re delicious!
First, a little about the Tuckers. They met at Gaviota Beach when she was 13 and he had just turned the ripe old age of 14, and it appears to have been love at first sight. After a romance of seven and a half years, the pair eloped to Las Vegas and will celebrate their golden anniversary next month.
A Santa Maria native, Donna’s dad had the Gaviota Beach concession, and since her family lived there, I’m guessing the smitten Bob burned up the highway during those seven-plus years. After 14 years running the Gaviota Beach store, Donna’s dad gave that up and the family moved to Solvang in 1962.
I remember Donna as a teller at Santa Ynez Valley Bank — now Rabobank — where she worked from the time she graduated from Santa Ynez Valley Union High School until retiring after 40 years. Bob said his family moved here from Reseda in 1960.
“I was in the Class of ’63 and Donna in ’64, so that meant four proms together,” he said.
Bob started his working days at Nielsen’s Market, then after returning from a stint in Vietnam he took a job at the Santa Ynez Valley Hardware.
In those days, the store was owned by Bill Hanly Sr. and partner Fred Harrison. When Fred broke off and built Harrison’s Hardware in Santa Ynez, Bob went with him as manager.
Later, when his buddy Tom Clevenger opened Viking Liquor and Deli — now Rio Market/Santa Ynez Burrito — Bob hopscotched a few yards, exchanged hardware for hard liquor and eventually bought the business.
After 14 years, Bob’s career took another turn when he traded retail for real estate and joined the crew at Viking Realty. After 25 years, he retired.
Now he and Donna have the time to enjoy their grown children Bryan and Jennifer, grandkids and traveling.
I also know Bob as a competent bridge player; he often substituted in my bridge club. We ladies enjoyed his company and I’m sure he liked being the only rooster in the hen house on those occasions.
On to the cookies. Donna said, “This recipe was handed down from my mother, who was Swedish. Our kids called her Mama.”
As for me, I want to thank Mama, because as Bob declared the cookies are absolutely yummy, and my trusted taste testers agree. This recipe is definitely headed for my best-recipes file.
Mama's Scandinavian Jelly Drops
½ c. shortening
½ c. butter
½ c. brown sugar
2 eggs, separated
2 c. flour
¼ tsp. salt
½ tsp. almond extract
¾ c. pecans (more if needed), finely chopped
Jelly of your choice
Cream shortening, butter and sugar. Beat in egg yolks. Sift flour and salt and add to creamed mixture. Stir in almond extract. Pinch off bits of dough, roll into 1-inch balls and dip into slightly beaten egg white. Roll in pecans and place on a greased or parchment lined baking sheet. Make a depression in center of each cookie and bake at 300 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes. While still warm, press to deepen depression for jelly. Cool on baking rack. Fill depression with a dollop of jelly just before serving so the cookies don’t get soggy.
NOTE: Donna said you can substitute walnuts for almonds, adding that she uses a small food processor for chopping. At Christmas, she often drops strawberry jelly on some and mint on others for a red and green holiday look.