Monday, December 12, 2005
~:C H R I S T M A S * P R E P A R A T I O N S:~
This year, in preparation for Christmas, I decorated the house with hand-made paper stars, ornaments and tags. We did not do a tree, which I miss a little. But not the headaches and allergies that come with a real tree. We'll buy an artificial tree AFTER the holidays when they all go on sale. The stars I made about 3 years ago for the Partnership where I used to work. We hung them at the front entrance. The following year, I made these tags that read Merry Christmas on both sides. They were a big hit. I brought them home with me last year right before I left. The little paper ornaments I also made. A sprig of greenery adds to the final touch.
Yesterday, my grandmother Nonie, and my mother Nancy, came over to help bake Christmas cookies. The year I got married, Deb Challoner faxed me a list all of the family's traditional christmas cookie recipes. That year I made these same cookies you'll read about here. But Doug and I ate pretty much all of them before Christmas Day, which meant we needed to make them all over again. I think we both gained 10 pounds that xmas. Now that we're both at a more reasonable weight, we'll hide these cookies in the guest bedroom so there will still be plenty to share with the whole family.
Below are recipes for four of my favorite cookies on the list. Nonie says that she and Mimi (my great-grandmother, Dagny Davnes) would come to visit and make christmas cookies for days. Every year when I do, I think of both of them. Carrying on a family tradition feels so good. Connects me with the past and somehow solidifies the future. I hope to someday stand in my own grandchild's kitchen cooking these delicious memories.
OUR FAMILY'S CHRISTMAS COOKIE RECIPES
The first cookies we made, which happen to be my favorite AND which are the easiest to make, are called Glace Lace. Nonie says that Laura discovered them. They are very crisp and delicate - fun to eat. They are also the perfect compliment to ice cream, their textures being so different.
::GLACE LACE:: (pronounced "glah-say lah-say")
From the "Yellow Pages" Woman's Day December 1966
1/2 cup softened butter
2 cups packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoons salt
Cream butter with sugar. Beat in eggs one at a time. Stir in flour, baking powder and salt. Spread tin foil onto cookie sheets, butter lightly. Drop dough onto foil by half teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart. Bake at 400 degrees for 4-5 minutes or until cookies are caramel-brown. (To test cookies for doneness, try to lift one with a spatula. If the cookie sticks to the foil, return to oven.) Place cookies in refrigerator and chill completely; then peel off foil. Keep two pans going at once, putting one in the oven as soon as the other is removed. Makes about 18 dozen.
Glace Lace cookies topped the list in 1979.
The second cookies we made are called Sandies. They are a very buttery cookie, flavored with pecans and dusted with powdered sugar. I made the batter, formed the cookies and Nonie dipped each in powdered sugar to coat them while still warm. These are fun to eat - but can be messy, too! I've also seen a recipe called Mexican Tea Cookies that are very similar, only shaped differently into little crescent moons. They are just as yummy.
From Nonie's recipe box.
1 cup butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups sifted flour
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon water
1 cup chopped pecans
1/3 cup sugar
Cream butter and sugar. Add vanilla and water. Add flour; mix well and fold in pecans. Form small rolls about 1 1/2 inches long. Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet at 325 degrees for 20 minutes or until delicately browned. While hot, roll in powdered sugar. Cool thoroughly before storing in airtight container or they will be soggy! Makes three dozen. Nonie made Sandies for us whenever we came to visit for Christmas. They were on our first list in 1979.
Next we made Chinese Birds Nests. These cookies have a great texture and could not be easier to make. Here is a lovely picture of Nonie cupping a delicate cookie in her hands. ;-) Yes that was my idea. Aren't I clever?
::CHINESE BIRDS NESTS::
From the St. Louis University Auxiliary Cookbook
1 6-ounce bag each of chocolate and butterscotch chips.
6 ounces of chinese noodles. (these come in cans or bags)
1 6 1/2 can of cocktail peanuts.
Melt chips in top of double boiler. Stir until smooth and immediately fold in noodles and peanuts. Drop onto waxed paper in bite-sized pieces and refrigerate until firm. Store in air-tight container. Yields about 4 dozen pieces. We lost this recipe for many years. It reappeared on the lists in 1980.
This next recipe is our most treasured and unique cookie - Mimi's Krumkaker. A Norwegian favorite. Krumkakers are made with a very wet batter and flavored with cardamom. Sort of like pancakes or crepes, the batter is placed on a krumkaker iron which gets turned once on each side. They are pressed very thin and rolled into a tight pretty roll.
The krumkaker iron has a delicate decorative design on each side. It's a crumbly, sweet cookie. Also looks fabulous with ice cream. Mom made them for me 2 years ago. This year I tried them myself. Once you get the swing of it, they're easy to make. With Nonie and Mom's supervision, I did a pretty OK job for a beginner. Ya think? Anyway -- here's the recipe.
(pronounced: krum - kahh - kurr)
As told by David Harvey Challoner.
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 1/2 cup flour
scant 1 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
Mix together sugar, butter, and flour. Separate eggs, mix yolks into batter. Add milk. beat egg whites until peaks form and fold into batter with cardamom and vanilla.
Pour batter into krumkaker iron (on gas burner set to med-high); cook 30 seconds. Turn over and cook on second side for about 20 seconds. Check for color, this may need adjustment, depending upon your preference for a lighter or darker cookie. Remove krumkaker from iron and promptly roll around handle of a wooden spoon. Cool thoroughly in an airtight container. Krumkakers first appeared on the 1980 list, but we enjoyed them long before then!
And that's about it. I'm pretty done. Full. In search of protein. And a toothbrush. Merry Christmas!!