Thursday, December 8, 2011

Advent Calendar - Baking & Baking & Baking

Oh, do I love Christmas cookies.  Lots of them.  And all kinds.  I probably have more than 200 recipe cards with cookies.  And then I have cookie cookbooks.  I used to have even more, but I gave about half away. 

What’s really funny is that I love making the cookies, but I usually don’t eat many of them.  While Walt was working, his group would have holiday foods brought in for two weeks during December.  Because I loved to bake, I always made a variety of “goodies”.  Then by keeping just a few for us, the rest were enjoyed by the people Walt worked with. 

This may be a holdover from my childhood.  We made plates and plates of cookies to give to friends and neighbors (and anyone else who came by) during the holiday season.  Some years we probably had 25-30 plates of cookies and brown bread.  You can imagine how many cookies it took, since each plate probably had almost two dozen cookies on it, sometimes even more if the family had lots of children.  Of course, with five children in the family we ate a lot of them also.

Every year I baked Russian Tea Cakes, also called Mexican Wedding Cookies among other names.  Last year I helped my three youngest grandchildren bake them.  Sometimes I made peanut brittle.  I have a recipe for cream cheese lemon bars that were good.  The recipe for chocolate balls with cherries in the center is a messy recipe to make.  (Make sure the dough is COLD before making the balls;  there is lots of butter and warm hands make the dough very sticky.)

For a couple of years, when I was about 11 or 12, I made rolled cookies and cut them into circles.  My aunt had taken a cake decorating class and we then decorated each of these 3-4 inch round cookies with stockings, Santa faces, wreaths, trees, bells, and stars.  Aunt Jo taught me how to make a pastry tube out of parchment paper and one year she gave me my own set of decorating tips.  I still have those tips, even though I seldom use them.  (I’d rather store them that get rid of them.  And they don’t take much room.)  This is still a special memory.  Perhaps I can teach my grandchildren to decorate this year.