NO CHRISTMAS COOKIES THIS YEAR!

By the time my first son, Michael, was five and his brother Steve was two, we were living in a rented house in North Hollywood and it was while we were living at that house on Kittridge street that I began collecting cookbooks—and was really into cookie baking by that time. I had acquired a lot of Wilton decorating tips and began learning how to make little flowers, like violets, with royal frosting, to put on cookies. Just before Christmas in 1965, I embarked on a sugar cookie baking marathon. I planned to give cookies to friends as well as coworkers at Weber Aircraft where both Jim and I were employed.  After hundreds of sugar cookies were baked and cooled, I began frosting them, one night, like an assembly-line, covering all the table and counter tops with trays of frosted cookies.  When at last the cookies were all decorated with butter cream frosting, I left them out to dry overnight. I collapsed in bed around 3 am.

The next day, I got up to discover that Michael had eaten the frosting off of every single cookie.  Every – single – cookie.  Needless to say, no one received gift tins of cookies from the Smiths that year.  To add insult to injury, Michael didn’t even get a tummy ache from all that sugar.  So, even though I may not be able to describe the many different cookies I made for most Christmases over the past 50 years..I can certainly tell you the story of the year no one received cookies from us.

In a homemade recipe journal I found in a used book store in the mid-60s, I was impressed with the author’s lists – lists of guests for parties, lists of everything that had been served – and lists of the cookies and confections she cooked and baked to give to friends for the holidays. So, I began keeping lists also. I’ve kept a Christmas notebook for years—it helps me remember who received what so that I don’t give that person the same thing two years in a row.  So for whatever it’s worth- here is a list of my Christmas cookies for 1981:

Chocolate chip

Chocolate cut out

Butter cut out

Mexican wedding cakes

Lebkuchen

Oatmeal ice box

1 dough 8 ways *bon bons

Peanut blossoms

Rum raisins

Butter pecan

Gingerbread boys

Almond icebox slices

Sun giant raisin

Cinnamon stars

Spritz

Truffles, 2 kinds

Sugared almonds

Mint walnuts

Candy pecans

Pralines

Peanut butter balls

Texas fruit cake

Madelines

What this list tells me is that not much has changed in thirty years. Many of these recipes are the same ones I’m still baking! And the mint walnuts became a favorite when my penpal in Oregon sent me small bottles of mint oil, from their mint crop. (although any kind of mint oil will work). Those are really not a “cookie” but what you might call a confection.

There was one other year – possibly the early 70s – when the price of sugar skyrocketed—a 5 lb bag of sugar soared to over $5.00. I may have baked some cookies but am inclined to think I focused on recipes that had molasses or natural sweeteners such as dried fruit.  Fortunately, the price of sugar dropped (maybe no one baked cookies that year) – and even now with sugar sold in 4 lb bags instead of 5 lbs, the price roughly $2.50 a bag, give or take depending on who has on sale—but there are ways to getting around the price of sugar – such as using cake mixes (bought when on sale) to make cookies with just the addition of eggs and maybe one or two other ingredients—but no added sugar. Sometimes you just have to be resourceful.

–Sandra Lee Smith

 

 

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One response to “NO CHRISTMAS COOKIES THIS YEAR!

  1. Oh my!! I laughed out loud when I read that the icing was eaten off of every cookie. Reminds me of about a month or so ago when Emma stuck her finger into every cupcake I had made.

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