I remember as a kid I couldn’t wait for that first day off from school and the start of Christmas vacation. Not because I could sleep late, watch television or anything else a kid would want to do when off from school, but instead it was Christmas baking day.
It was time to break out the cookie cutters, sprinkles and piping bags. There was a whole bag of old cutters made out of aluminum and copper — all in festive shapes and sizes. My favorite was the angel and the reindeer. Last week I was excited to find both of these copper cookie cutters in an antique store. Since my mother is still the keeper of the cutters I took the opportunity to get a couple of my own.
Usually Mom would make the dough in advance so it would be nice and cool and ready to roll out. The kitchen was transformed into a work zone and every bit of counter and table space would be covered with flour and sprinkles. By far, our cookie baking days are some of my fondest Christmas memories.
At some point in the 1980’s my mom bought an electric cookie gun. This was a noisy contraption that squeezed the dough out of a tube and through a mold that was attached to the other end. This was not my favorite way to make the cookies so I left that duty to my sister while I rolled out more angels, reindeers, trees, bells and stars.
When it came to decorating we mainly used sprinkles and cinnamon red hots, but another favorite décor was colored egg yolk. We would add food coloring to an egg yolk and then paint the yolk onto the cooking before baking. It created a smooth glaze over the top of the cookie and then sprinkles could be added, as well.
We would also make Congo bars, chocolate dipped pretzels, lots of Chex party mix and peanut brittle or fudge. Of course many of these sweets were shared with friends, but over the next two weeks of vacation all the treats were enjoyed at parties, Christmas Eve and my mom’s personal favorite -- cookies for breakfast on Christmas morning.
Hope you have a sweet holiday season and find some time to do some baking for yourself or for a good friend.
I am also excited to announce that my new cookbook, Favorite FLAVOR is finally here. I hope you can join me this week as we celebrate the arrival of the book. Today, I will be signing books at Sweet Gourmet from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m., on Thursday, the photographer who took the great book cover and jacket photos, is having a signing party from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in Palestine at his studio, Lee Loveless Photography, 101 West Oak on Palestine Main Street. Then on Saturday, I will be at FRESH from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. to sign books and offer samples from a couple of recipes.
I hope you can join me at one of the book signings and that the recipes featured in the book bring lots of tasty treats to your household for many years to come. It is filled with more than 125 of the best and most-talked about recipes I have written for the FLAVOR section. And if you’re like me, you eat with your eyes first, so I’ve included over 100 mouth-watering photos.
The book would also make a great gift if you are still looking for something special to give to a friend or family member.
If you can’t make it to one of the book signings, they will be sold at the newspaper office at 410 W. Erwin, during business hours, and will also be for sale in Tyler at Sweet Gourmet or FRESH. If you have any questions about the book or any of the recipes you can always email me at email@example.com.
MOM’S STORYBOOK COOKIES
1/2 cup Crisco
1/4 cup margarine
1 cup sugar
2 1/2 cups flour, plus more for dusting
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking powder
Assorted sprinkles for decorating
2 egg yolks
In a large bowl with an electric mixer, cream together the Crisco, margarine and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time. Continue to beat while adding salt, vanilla and baking powder. Begin to add the flour slowly. Add more flour if the dough does not appear pliable enough to roll. Divide dough into four portions. Place three to five drops of food coloring onto each dough portion. Work the color through the dough and form into a ball. Refrigerate overnight or freeze for later and thaw in the refrigerator. When ready to make cookies, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Dust a work surface with flour. Roll dough out to 1/4 inch thick. Cut cookies out with cookie cutters and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Place excess dough scraps back in the refrigerator to rechill. This dough can be used again. Decorate cookies with sprinkles or paint with a thin coat of beaten egg yolks mixed with a few drops of food coloring. Bake for 6 to 8 minutes.
Recipe by Jacki Gardner