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Our Napa Get-Away from Bev Sykes on Vimeo.
MEMORIES WITH A HINT OF CINNAMON
22 December 2008
What is more traditional at this time of year than making Christmas cookies. Brianna has been introduced to the process.
I remember making Christmas cookies with my mother when I was a little kid. I learned recently that she threw away the cookbook that had all those recipes I now wish I had. She would make several kinds and you could count on the kitchen filled with the aroma of freshly baked cookies throughout the month of December. Wonderful aromas of chocolate, cinnamon, and other mysterious spices. The cutting board would be dusted with flour and my mother would be putting cookies into the pig cookie jar that now sits in my kitchen, covered with dust from years of disuse.
How I loved that cookie jar. It might have been worth something today, but all the color that was on it eventually rubbed off. I remember that my sister and I tried painting the kerchief around his neck with red nailpolish, but that didn't last either. I got very good at lifting the head off of the body to swipe cookies and putting it back without making a sound. (And people wonder why I was put on a diet at age 10!)
I loved my mother's "thumbprint" cookies which was an orange flavored butter cookie, formed into a ball, rolled in chopped walnuts and then a small spoonful of jam put in an indent in the ball of dough with your thumb. They were fun to make and delicious to eat!
Of course there were brownies and chocolate chip cookies. I don't know what there was about my mother's chocolate chip cookies but only rarely have I been able to duplicate that taste. It definitely does not exist in the store-bought kind. Maybe it was that extra dash of love that a mother adds! Licking the beater from chocolate chip cookies was the very best.
My favorites, though, were what she called "Goodness Sake Cookies." I have since found the recipe under many names, most commonly Mexican Wedding cakes. A rich butter cookies with chopped pecans, rolled in powdered sugar when they are still warm from the oven.
On Christmas Eve, my sister and I would take a plate and fill it with some of those home-baked cookies for Santa, add a glass of milk, and place it on the window sill because we lived in a flat and had no fireplace, but we had a "Light well," a space between our building and the one next door and we knew that Santa came down the light well on Christmas eve. He always left cookie crumbs on the floor--I guess Mrs. Claus did a lot of sweeping up at the North Pole.
When our kids were growing up, I wanted to share the cookie making experience with them. We made lots of cookies over the years, and they made good gifts to give to neighbors, teachers, and other special people we wanted to remember. They always loved "ooey gooey cookies," chocolate chip cookies warm from the oven, with the chips still melting as you broke the cookie apart.
When I was learning cake decorating, we even made gingerbread houses.
Our kids made cookies to leave for Santa, too, though since my own childhood, we had learned that Santa preferred beer to milk, so there was always a beer waiting with the chocolate chip cookies (which were Santa's favorite). (Nowadays, I suspect Santa would request wine instead of beer...)
I loved making Christmas cookies, whether as a little kid with my mother, as a grown up for the office open house that I held each year (staying awake until the wee small hours of the night making lots and lots and lots of different kinds of cookies for the people who would stop by my office--definitely an over-achiever!), or making cookies with my own kids.
When I saw the photos of Bri today, helping make her first batches of Christmas cookies, it just warmed the cockles of my heart to see that the tradition is being passed on. What a lot of memories that little girl has ahead of her!
PHOTO OF THE DAY
Starting a lifetime of memories
MILES TO NOWHERE: 89 miles