Slightly out of step with Christmas festivities, this is not a post about making cookies … it is about eating them.
Writing recently about my Grandmother, (Grandma Changed the World by Baking Cookies) it occurs to me that my family accented almost every moment of my childhood with cookies. It’s also how we solved most of our ailments.
- Friday night sleepover at Grandma’s … oatmeal/chocolate chip or peanut butter cookies. “Just two,” she always instructed but then played deaf when we sneaked back to the cookie jar … multiple time! We were experts at trying to arrange the remaining cookies so that it didn’t appear that any were missing.
- Family stopping by after church … Aunt Mary’s famous raisin cookies recipe … the one that only tasted right when Aunt Mary made it herself … we suspected that she left an ingredient or two out when she reluctantly agreed to share it after years of being begged.)
- Fourth of July … orange gumdrop cookies … red gumdrops instead of orange (same recipe at Christmas with red and green gumdrops).
- Snicker Doodles for lunch boxes
- Brownies (with ice cream) for birthdays.
- Gingersnaps for colds and sniffles or just having a bad day.
- More bad days, especially a rough day at school … Ice Box Cookies to the rescue. It was somewhat of a cardinal sin in the family to not have a roll of vanilla or chocolate cookie formed into a log and wrapped in wax paper, waiting in the fridge for need-cookies-now-emergencies. If you don’t know what an Ice Box Cookie is, you’ll find knock off versions in the cold food section of the grocery store, next to cinnamon rolls in a can, and instant crescent rolls … all of which are handy but none of which taste anything like Grandma’s.
Grandma watched TV shows about the end of the world and atomic explosions. The result was a flurry of baking in the kitchen … usually her go-to peanut butter bars. “No matter how poor we are, we always have enough ingredients for a batch of these … and they’re fast,” she said. I always suspected that if the world were about to end, she wanted to make sure we had one more sweet treat before the devastation set in. Guess that trait passed down to me … I have friends posting about the end of the world as we know it … warning us to stock up on survival gear … and I’m thinking about cookies.
Christmas Time brought out a whole new slew of recipe books and delicacies:
- Sugar cookies with slathers of butter and a touch of cream of tartar
- Rice Crispy® treats (made by my mom … these were too modern for Grandma)
- Peanut butter balls rolled in chocolate (I was horrified to learn that a small amount of paraffin wax was used in these! But didn’t stop me from eating them.)
- Spritz cookies … as long as we hadn’t lost any pieces to the cookie press
- Thumb print cookies … filled with our own homemade strawberry freezer jam
- German Springerle … these cookies – a work of art and true German artistry – demanded baker’s ammonia (sounds nasty, but I’m pretty sure that’s what was in the bottle deep in Grandma’s cupboard). They also required a special rolling pin … sad to say, I’m not sure what happened to the two that Grandma kept … I’ve never attempted these on my own.
- Joe Froggers … a very laborious molasses cookie … chewy to perfection … and loaded with a lethal amount of molasses
- Russian Tea Cakes … probably my favorite, especially with finely chopped walnuts and lots of powdered sugar
I had vowed not to do a lot of baking this year because it’s not in line with anyone’s health needs in our family … but … this list!
Maybe just ONE of these … but …. which?
Last minute confession: After writing the first draft, I had to run to the store for some dinner items, but couldn’t stop myself from peaking into the fridge where the instant cookie dough is kept. There was just one lonely roll of sugar cookie dough left. Even though my Grandma (and our youngest daughter, who has become Christmas Cookie Baker Extraordinaire) wouldn’t approve … I couldn’t leave the poor thing there by itself. After all … the evening news was petty bleak about the state of our world.
Wishing you Happy Cookie Eating … whatever the occasion!
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