Naturally, my mother made cookies at Christmas time and it was always a nice part of the holiday season. My paternal grandmother – now she would bake. After feeding a gargantuan meal to her extended family which was 21 people large, she’d haul out these enormous platters of cookies. There had to be more than 10 or 12 types of cookies on those platters and every one of them was delight that we only saw at Christmas.
Those images stayed with me and I always wanted to do that when I was the woman of the house. About fifteen years ago, I decided to make the dream a reality. I was broke and decided to give baked goods to everyone I knew. I enlisted the help of my mother and sister. Though it was a grueling experience that first year, we have continued the tradition of baking together every year. We have had some wonderfully entertaining moments. These are some of my Christmas cookie baking recollections.
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Topple the Tree
That first year we baked, I had to pick my daughter up from a play rehearsal. I left my sister in charge of not only the cookie baking but my 2 year old son. Childless at the time, she was unaware of just how fast a motivated a child mesmerized by Christmas tree lights could move. In what she swears was imply seconds, he toddled out of the kitchen and into the family room where he toppled the tree. She ran heart in mouth to the next room, to find him standing there amid artificial tree limbs and discombobulated garland sputtering “It fall down!” My son and sister both survived.
My Husband, the Guinea Pig
Christmas cookies, particularly new recipes, need taste testers. My husband has the simplest of tastes. Give him a plate of Nestlé’s Tollhouse Chocolate Chips and he’s satisfied. Still, he has performed like a trooper. One year, we tried to kill him with several batches of cookies. Little did we know the flour had gone bad, giving every batch of cookies a salty taste. We had finished three different kinds of cookies and offered him samples. Recipe after recipe he tried, them, sputtering and spitting after each bite until we figured it out. Another time, my mother made minced meat cookies. Finished on the platter, they resembled chocolate chips. My husband spied these and slipped away with several in his pocket. A short while later he came to me and whispered, I think there’s something wrong with the chocolate chips. There was a batch of peanut butter cookies that nearly cemented his mouth shut. He’s been such a good sport.
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One year, in order to impress her first serious boyfriend, my sister attempted some Christmas cookie recipes on her own. Christmas Trees were the most memorable. Made by pouring molten marshmallow, dyed green with food coloring over a mound of Cheerios, she had to shape the sticky mess into a cone shape before the marshmallow “glue” hardened. At first, the molten mixture was too hot to handle. She had to wait for it too cool a little. Once shaped, she was to affix gum drops to simulate ornaments. The trees however would not cooperate. They would not retain their shape and kept seeping downward. She frantically tried to keep them tall pointy but as soon as she would start on one, the previous one would start its melting descent. She finally gave up and served what lovingly became known as Christmas glops.
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Fortunately, we have been Christmas cookie baking together for years and have fined tuned our routine. There have been the occasional food fights and tired though we are at the end of the day, we have never regretted as single moment.
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