Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Grandma's Christmas Cookies
5 pounds of flour
2 1/2 pounds of sugar
2 pounds of shortening
1 dozen eggs
6 heaping tablespoons of baking powder
...and a handful of other ingredients.
Mix them all together and what do you get? A family tradition and wonderful memories of Christmas' past. Oh yea, and about 30 dozen Italian Christmas Cookies.
Growing up with an Italian grandmother, no recipe was done on a small scale. Obviously. In fact, I think that my grandmother probably doubled this recipe when she made it. We're talking cookie-making on a grand scale!
Making Christmas cookies as a child is what I remember most about the holidays. Cookies filled every counter of the kitchen, covered the entire kitchen table, and a few extras spilled over onto the dining room table. I'm not sure that I really made any them or even helped to make them--more than likely I just put glaze and sprinkles on a few. I do remember eating them though! I thought they were the yummiest cookies in the world. I still do...especially the ones with the sprinkles.
I haven't made these cookies in probably twenty years. I decided to make them this year because, now that I am a full time mom, I have oodles of extra time with nothing to do-right! Actually, there were a couple of reasons why I sacrificed an entire day to this holiday tradition.
First, I now have my own daughter. I want her to be able to smell the sweet orange scent that fills the house for the entire day as batch after batch bakes in the oven. I would love for her to have fond memories of cookies overtaking the kitchen each Christmas. Like me with my sprinkle cookie, I want her to have a favorite cookie that she wants to share with her children. For any of this to happen, we need to be baking (and eating!) these puppies every year. Darn!
The other reason that I wanted to make these cookies this year was for my Dad and Mom. These cookies were my Dad's before they were mine. His mother made them for him long before she and mother made them for me. They are part of his childhood holiday memories, too. Although my mom didn't have them as a child, she certainly made these cookies plenty of times as an adult. I'm sure that she has fond memories connected to them as well.
So today I loving wrapped 12 dozen cookies, packed them into a big brown box and sent them off to my parents. A total surprise for them. I hope they get as much joy from them as I think that they will.
Isn't it funny? It's not so much the cookie itself that is important...it's the memory. In fact, Tony informed me today that they are just okay. Okay? HELLO! These are the best cookies in the world (especially the ones with the sprinkles)! What was he thinking? Geesh! I guess if you don't grow up with the memory, they just don't taste the same to you.
The only problem now is that I still have 18 dozen cookies (and only 1/3 of those have sprinkles) and the chief cookie-eater thinks that they are just okay. If you know where I live and want a little slice of Italian heaven, bring over a plate. I'll fill it up for you. Just back away from the ones with the sprinkles, and nobody will get hurt.