I wiped away the weeds & foam. / I fetched my sea-born treasures home... Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Cookies

Hi! Do you bake holiday cookies? Do you have a special, much loved, tried and true recipe you use year after year?

I know I do...or did....

I've been making classic decorated cutout sugar cookies since I was a tiny girl. I took over family cookie production when I was about 8 or 9.

 The previous year,  Christmas cookies had caused a huge parental blow up. My mother fell into that "start baking right after Thanksgiving " trap. She wasn't one to make fussy cut out cookies---instead she had spent days filling every horizontal surface with  snowballs, Bourbon balls, almond crescents, those lacy things you dip in chocolate?..and those things you roll up while hot, roll 'em right around the wooden spoon handle.
And the cookies were very tempting, but we were all forbidden to touch even one! My dad didn't---couldn't?---resist and when he snitched one cookie too many, my mom went ballistic---and hurled all the cookies on the floor, screaming  Never again! And she never did bake another Christmas cookie.

I learned two lessons that day: 1-don't make the cookies until the day before Christmas. and 2-always make a batch of 'family' cookies for immediate eating; I usually make chocolate chip, an easy crowd pleaser.]

But back to my childhood story...you know, I was like eight? So the next year it got to be Christmas and I decided I'd make my own cutout cookies. How hard could it be? My dad said he'd help, since mom was on permanent hiatus in the cookie department.

We got a recipe from a friend's wife, made the dough....

and no cookie cutters! When asked, my mother looked up from her Vogue and shrugged; she said she sold all the vintage aluminum cookie cutters---you know, the kind with the red or green painted wooden knobs? ---and the antique rolling pin! to her friend Bernice the Antiques Dealer.

 All that remained was one stray squashed doggy cutter!

Man, I loved them! I cried! How could she!?

My dad made me a 5 pointed star that night, from aluminum gutter flashing---a cutter I use to this day.

Fast forward many years. I've perfected my style! I have a method, a technique. And probably 300 cookie cutters including a big selection of 19th century hand-forged tin folkart shapes. (scissors! a flag, a swan, tulips, birds of all sorts, hearts and stars and peasant ladies....); an extensive group of animals for a someday Noah's Ark gingerbread....

So imagine my dismay when I went up to Cape Cod one late January a few years ago and found all the fancy cookies I'd sent languishing in a tin in the pantry. Still in their bubble wrap. Untouched. Forlorn. [rock hard, lol.]

My parents no longer ate sweets. Or sugar.

I was hurt. Sad. Confused. [Could just a few precious cookies really kill them? Destroy their hearts and health? Who knew! ? ]

Then soon after, some of the young guys who had loved my cookies began refusing them, patting their washboard tummies and citing healthy eating regimens.

My kids won't touch sugar or carbs...my mother-in-law will maybe nibble one or two on Christmas Day. I've been thinking, Why bother?

Then my daughter asked me to  make these...from Shape magazine.

 I've been baking all week! And not to hurt anyone's feelings...or heaven forbid contribute to childhood obesity!---I'll just say this: One cannot bake palatable cookies with whole wheat flour, a banana, and 2 teaspoons of olive oil.

These cookies taste like BAD whole wheat bread.

I bet the gulls won't even eat them!

I hope my rum cake in my Dala horse mold from IKEA ---rum! white flour! white sugar! More rum! some Amaretto! ---is more successful.

Or maybe I can just serve after dinner liqueurs. Like my mom did?
Should I frantically whip up a batch of classic cookies?
Or just hope for the best....



 gone to the beach.....

[yes, these were taken today!]

ps vintage aluminum cookie cutters pictureCd are from current eBay listings[not mine]...just in case your mom threw out your cooky cutters too!