For The Love of Cookies

A lot has been happening here at the homestead.  I’ll call it post Thanksgiving madness with shopping (online and in stores) wrapping flurries, cleaning up flurries, with occasional writing flurries (current WIP @ 37K), all topped off with holiday parties to attend.

This weekend I’ll bake Christmas cookies with mom, as I’ve done since I can remember.  Back in the day we used to bake eight varieties.  We would get started at around 7:00 a.m. and go until 10:00 or 11:00 that night.  When I think back on it, I remember how sore my hands would be the next day from the mixing, kneading and dish washing.  I would be tired for two days.  But, oh, the smell!  I would go home reeking of butter, vanilla and chocolate.  Like that Yankee Candle I took a whiff of the other day, called Christmas Cookie.  Yeah, I smelled like that.

One of my favorites was Spritz.

Spritz

YUM!  (photo courtesy SouthernPlate)

I sort of learned that you can’t eat Spritz after you eat any of the others.  For example, what some call a Wedding Cookie, and some call pecan puffs, they are those little round cookies with pecans, cinnamon and they’re coated in powder sugar.  If you eat one of those, then eat a Spritz, the Spritz falls flat.  If you start off with Spritz, you can distinctly taste vanilla and butter.  Otherwise, it tastes kind of like Playdough.  🙂  Anyway, we would bake Spritz, sugar cookies, fudge, pecan puffs, peanut butter balls (Buckeyes), some sort of bar cookie (more pecans, chocolate galore), these little candies like Mounds, and peanut butter cookies – which we made more festive my sprinkling red and green sugar on top.

To say we’ve scaled back is like telling someone to cut the heat down and later on you go by the thermostat and it’s so low, it might as well be off.

This Saturday we will still do the peanut butter balls – but I won’t be bringing any home.  We will do peanut butter cookies, and sugar cookies too.  Those I will bring home.  Mom will make fudge and give me a few pieces because she knows how much I love it.  But I won’t bring a whole tin home like before.

One reason for the change is Hubby.  After years, and years, and years, what do I learn?  He’s not a big cookie fan – peanut butter and sugar get a thumbs up – but he would just as soon eat a plain old rice cake as to eat the others. For a while there we were baking all these cookies like crazy, until I noticed I was hauling it back here, tin after tin loaded with goodies, and eating most of it all by myself.

Finally, one year, I got a clue when this conversation took place:

“Here try some of these, they’re so good!”

“Nah, I’ll just eat the peanut butter ones.”

“Oooo, these are my favorites!  Try these.”

“Nah, I’ll just eat some of the sugar.”

“What?  But, these are the best!”

“I don’t really care for them.”

Mouth.  Open.  And not to put a cookie in.

Well darn.  So, I tell Mom this, and we have adjusted as time went on.  Besides, with Dad not there to gobble them up almost as fast as we make them, she has lost some heart for doing a lot of baking anyway.

Brooke (my daughter) will be there as she has been for years now, too.  And so, this tradition of ours will continue, minimized as it is, because it remains very special to me – and to Mom.  Even if we only baked ONE kind of cookie, it wouldn’t matter.  It would never be a wasted effort if one considers the human aspect of it, other than consumption.

You see, I try not to think too far ahead, because honestly, it’s too much for my heart.  It isn’t for the love of cookies at all, but for the love of Mom.  For who she was with Dad, and who she is now.

It is very different this year, and yet, we carry on.

Do you have traditions you’ve long held with someone special?

 

 

 

 


COMMENTS

  • Craig

    December 10, 2015

    Reply

    I too am a fan of Spritz cookies. For some reason we only make them at Christmas though. That means it takes almost as much time to remember how to run the cookie press as a should take to bake a whole batch. That is only if you took good notes on how to cook them. When we decided to add them to the list, after getting a cookie press, we went through six recipes before it worked correctly.

    We have done six types so far. Two or three more and we will divide them into tins and give them away to friends. Both Kathy and I feel that the best gifts are those that you make for the recipient. This year there are some bird nesting boxes, bird feeders, a couple of lamps and so on. Kathy is the painter so there are some artistic things on that side also. No one is special enough for a custom made and painted paddleboard paddle.

    Tradition is hard for most Americans. We move around too much for one thing. Some people with ethnic ties carry along some of their old world traditions but most Americans get too frazzled by the season. Some of that is the roller coaster of emotion from those we could once share Christmas with.

    For many the season has become a circus with Thanksgiving as a starting line. At least I don’t do Black Friday. The first party for me was on Dec. 4. Since I ended up not going to China again I am expected in Miami for three of them, parties, this weekend. Then there is one in Daytona on Tuesday and one in Sarasota on Thursday. The eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth are fifteen minute appearance all over the west coast of this state.

    As I said the season has become a circus. The good thing is that it takes our minds off of the things that can be depressing about it.

    • donnaeve

      December 11, 2015

      Reply

      I gotta tell you about my Spritz fiasco.

      But first, you hit the nail on the head with the whole cookie press thing. We’ve got the old-fashioned one – where you twist and twist and twist. We also have the electric one which makes Mom cuss. There is something oddly amusing about hearing “dammitalltohell!” come out of her almost 80 yr old mouth.

      The Fiasco – being the good daughter and all…I volunteered to make Spritz last year. I told her, and my daughter, “well, we love Spritz and so even though Blaine doesn’t, let’s make a few dozen, just for us and Allen.” (my brother)

      I had come to the conclusion a while back that our Spritz tasted “off” because we used too much flour to get the press to work. I decided to make it just like the recipe called for. There are words of caution all over the internet about the trickiness of this dough. Still, I made it up based on the recipe and stuck it in the fridge for a few hours. Later, I pulled out the old fashioned press b/c I like that one best. I got the dough out, and filled the thing, being sure to smash the dough into the canister before putting the top back on. I begin to twist. It seemed to take a lot of twisting. The plunger was already halfway down by the time I got ONE cookie out. Huh, said I. I keep on. I did the trees first. I get my measly little 12 out, and pop them in the oven. I look five minutes later and SH**!!! I had Frisbees.

      Needless to say, what did I do? Added more flour. (dammit) I tried again. STILL Frisbee like. More flour. More coloring. I finally got them to sort of look like trees.

      So, I’m wondering – is that what you and Kathy experienced? Having to add flour b/c the standard recipe is too buttery and melts everywhere?

      And I also like to make gifts. That’s what I do for all the neighbors. I make a plum cake, or pound cake…some sort of cake, and I wrap them with a lot of ribbon and decorative doodads. One neighbor loves my squash soup and I make her a BIG jar of that and take it over while it’s still hot. I’ve made Russian Tea in the past and put it in decorative jars. Homemade hot chocolate mix in Christmas tree shaped jars. Bread and jam in baskets with bows. You name it. I love doing that sort of thing.

      Tonight for us is Cape Fear Cotillion, a black tie affair. Next weekend there are parties we’ll attend both Friday and Saturday night, with a bit of house hopping to accommodate them all.

      I think some Americans try hard to have or create traditions. Sadly, I think a lot of them end up disappointed when participation is in direct contention with the gadgets.

  • Craig

    December 12, 2015

    Reply

    First, I have to say that I am glad that I don’t have to do my Tennessee Tuxedo impressions anymore. The furthest I go now is a blazer for dress up parties. Last night’s was casual, today’s is board shorts and tees. Tonight is the most dressy.

    Spritz.
    We picked the recipe that looked most promising. After mixing it we quartered the dough and wrapped each section separately. They went into the fridge and came out when needed.

    The biggest secret is in the consistency of the butter. Living in Fla. the humidity and heat can play hell with that. It might work differently for you.

    I am being summoned to paddle an outrigger canoe for six with some friends. I think Animal wants to go to the outside today. Maybe to try and scare me.

    If I don’t have the privilege of dominating your interweb space again before Christmas I wish a very Merry Little Christmas and the best of the New Year.

    • donnaeve

      December 13, 2015

      Reply

      The formal event over, the cookie baking over, and the other gathering last night (after the cookie baking frenzy – it was almost too much) is over. I’m on the downhill slope into Christmas at this point. Shopping? Done. Stocking stuffers? Done. Where we need to be and when on Christmas Eve and Day – established.

      Time for some rest and a little writing.

      Thanks for the tips on the butter – great idea to section off and use as needed out of the fridge!

      Hope you had fun on the canoe trip, and the same to you and yours – a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

  • Jen Donohue

    December 14, 2015

    Reply

    My dad and I were the designated gingerbread cookie bakers and decorators when I was little. My aunt is now the one who makes them, but she uses a different recipe from the “traditional” one so they aren’t the same at all.

    I actually bought one of those spritz cookie “guns” at a rummage sale a few years back, though I haven’t utilized it yet. I quite enjoy EATING cookies that are very involved (the aforementioned wedding cookies, and decorated gingerbreads) but am quite lazy when it comes to motivating myself to execute them.

    • donnaeve

      December 14, 2015

      Reply

      I’ve come to the conclusion that when SOMEONE else bakes the cookies they taste better anyway, right??? Like what is the deal with salads? Someone else makes a salad and it’s wonderful! I make myself one and it’s “meh.”

      Mmmm, I love gingerbread cookies. If you mean the kind that actually look like gingerbread people, I’m totally impressed.

      One of my husband’s worker’s wife makes The Best gingersnaps EVER. I hope to get some for Christmas…


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