This article was inspired by niece Amy Oster, my sister Elaine’s daughter and her comment on Facebook.
Every year for several years she has compiled a list of cookies that she will bake and freeze for Christmas. Then she precedes every weekend to fill the freezers full of delicious cookies. At Christmastime her dad, Ted, plays Santa and delivers cookies to all their family and friends.
The rest of this article was suggested by daughter Susan, who says she appreciated all the cookies I baked for her when her Fireweed Gifts Shop had an open house at this time of year. I was invited to make cookies along with a few friends. My “Mom McClure instinct” kicked in and I made cookies by the dozens each day, filling our freezer full of favorite cookies. I always had a new recipe or two to offer also.
Susan says there were platters and platters and boxes and Tupperware containers full of cookies. Metal tins with wax paper liners and wedding cake cookies and fruitcake with nuts. Oatmeal and peanut butter cookies and all kinds bar cookies. We filled the gift shop with cookies on every table. What fun!
Kathleen McClure, my brother John’s wife, makes cookies for the freezer this time of year too. She packs and fills her freezer and by Christmas everyone in their family, plus friends, are the recipient of her delicious cookies.
We all have the same person to thank for carrying on this tradition. My Mom — Loretta McClure.
Amy has carried on this tradition, faithfully making Mom’s cookies and adding some of her own favorites. Kathleen has the same idea and I do the same — except I add new cookies every year. Sometimes I should stick to the old tried-and-true “Grandma McClure’s Cookies.”
Then I have friends who bake cookies for special occasions. Pam Burg makes her special chocolate chip cookies for many of our get-togethers or for a birthday gift. I do not know her secret, but they are always YUMMY.
Bernie Titara bakes cookies for Christmas and her most famous is the Christmas Wreaths, which are colorfully green with red cinnamon dots for the red tree ornament. She also makes a great pumpkin roll.
Becky Puch is so famous for her pretzel crust strawberry squares. We do have to hide them from Bernie though, if we want one!
Gail and Susan are equally great bakers and David is a good cooker too. We all owe it to my Mom (grandma) and her dedication to baking and cooking.
I guess I learned very early about sugar cookies from my Grandma Cogswell. She always had sugar cookies in her cookie jar or just coming out of the kerosene oven. I have mentioned many times about how I thought her cookies were real good not knowing they tasted a “little” like kerosene. Grandpa had to have a glass of milk for me and him to dunk the cookies. Sometimes he would invite grandma to the table and we all had cookies and milk. Great memories!
Bob’s mom, Shirley Ricks, made the best fruitcake using her applesauce cake recipe. I use it now and get rave reviews from people who DO NOT like fruitcake.
If I have missed one of my family or friends, it is because I need reminded every day! So let me know! We love your cookies too!
Mom started the first of November and almost every day had two or three batches of cookies coming out of the oven. Dad got two or three cookies on a plate for his midnight snack. The rest went in the freezer.
Actually, Mom baked year-round as she made school lunches for almost 18 school years. Cookies were in the lunches and in the cookie jar for an after-school munch.
I do the same, but I do the marathon baking, two or three days in a row. If I get out all the ingredients, I just spend days baking lots of cookies, then packaging them up and freezing them.
Bob gets the not-so-perfect ones and we sometimes get into the frozen ones late at night! Sometimes I share with John and Nikki Turnbull, and when Larry Minehardt is around he gets a plateful. Of course, there are my kids and grands and great-grands who get a handful, or the visitors go home with a plateful.
Great granddaughter Braleigh, age 4, comes to visit and the first thing she wants to do is bake a cake or cookies. She “heps” Grannie Annie stir and add the ingredients. “Chocolate chips cookies, please!” While stirring she “accidentally” gets cookie dough on her fingers, then looks at me with a smile and ASKS me if she can lick her fingers!
When I go shopping during the rest of the year I pick up brown sugar, white sugar, flour and butter, chocolate chips and nuts and stow them away in freezer or in cupboard. I live too far away from town to jump in the car and go get something I need. I usually have the stash of “cookie-building ingredients” hidden away.
Which brings me to the way things have changed through the years as far as ingredients for making cookies, breads and cakes!
We had our own eggs and milk and she used lard they rendered in the fall. In earlier years, this took place of butter. Then switched to butter-flavored shortening and then to butter.
During World War II our neighbors gave her coupons and tokens for sugar, butter, flour for her famous cookies. I can remember how thrilled Mom was to get them.
We always had milk and eggs for her baking. The butter we churned was for the table for her biscuits and homemade breads.
At Christmastime, big trays of cookies went out the door with a neighbor or relative who came by. Dad delivered cookies at Christmastime to our old farmer neighbors, some who lived alone and some who had spouses who did not bake, or who were just plain too old.
Mom always arranged them in perfect rows on the cookie trays. She used waxed paper to cover the top, then tied ribbons to keep waxed paper on. Later when Saran Wrap came out Mom was a loud advocate of this new invention! She used reams of it for her cookie trays. Then stuck a ready-made bow on top.
Her cookie trays always looked so colorful. I know, I was involved in the cookie giveaway from 5 years old until I left home at 18. She was a great baking teacher. Cookies were not the only thing Mom kept on the table or cupboard as her cakes and pies were just as delightful.
We have come a long way in the way we baked. Mom started out with a coal, corncob burning cookstove with a huge oven that was always warm and full of something.
No running water, no dish washers, no hot-water heaters. She made her own soap and embroidered her beautiful, very white feedsack dish towels.
So the tradition of cookie baking brings back smiles and happy thoughts of our Mom (Grandma) baking cookies and having the pleasure of giving them away at Christmas.
It makes me so happy that the tradition has been carried on with as much pleasure as it gave our Mom-Grandma.
Memories are made of this.
CHERRY NUT COOKIE
1 cup butter softened
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
¾ Teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup chopped maraschino cherries, drained and patted dry
Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt. Gradually add to the cream mixture and mix in by hand the pecans and cherries. Dough will be thick.
Drop by teaspoonful 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 9 to 11 minutes and lightly browned.
FRIENDLY FRUITCAKE EVERYONE LOVES
Full of dates, nuts and pineapple with none of the citron. Now is the time to make this type of fruit cake — store and wrapped in cheese cloth in fridge or cool place and pour rum or apricot brandy over every week until Christmas. This is not Shirley Rick’s recipe.
Oil a 13- x 9-inch foil pan or baking dish. You can bake this in loaves also — but easier to serve in small 2 inch squares.
Open and drain:
1 20-ounce can chunk pineapple tidbits — drain and drain on papertowel and pat with another to dry. Cut each tidbit in half. Set aside. (Can use candied pineapple, much easier)
Combine in large bowl:
1 cup flour
1 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
Pinch of salt (optional)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Place into flour mixture:
2 8-ounce packages chopped dates
1 ½ cups, dried small diced fruit — or you can buy the diced fruit in small packages
1 ½ cup craisins
1 cup golden raisins
1 cup of maraschino cherries — drained, patted dry, halved
OR 1 cup candied red cherries — halved
1 ½ cup dried apricots — diced small
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup chopped pecans — or Brazil nuts chopped or both
The pineapple halves and stir in the flour to coat every piece.
In a bowl:
Separate 4 eggs and beat the whites to stiff peaks. Fold in the yolks, 1-teaspoon vanilla or almond extract.
Add the egg mixture into the flour-fruit, stirring until well blended.
Pour into the 13- x 9-inch oiled pan and press down slightly for even distribution. Bake at 300 degrees for 1 to 1 ½ hours. Test middle after one hour to see if it no longer sticks to toothpick. Take out and let cool 20 minutes.
This is optional:
Spoon apricot brandy or rum over top of warm cake. Wrap and store until Christmas. We like this so much we usually cannot wait that long. ENJOY!! P.S. Use foil pan and leave in pan until ready to cut or transport.
PEANUT BUTTER BARS
Stir together in small bowl
1 ½ cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
In a Mixer bowl beat:
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup white sugar
½ cup butter room temperature
¼ cup peanut butter
Mix until smooth and creamy
1 teaspoon vanilla
Stir flour in flour until blended.
½ cup unsalted peanuts
Pour batter into prepared 9- x 13-inch pan
Bake 20 to 35 minutes. Cool in pan and frost.
¼ cup chocolate chips
½ teaspoon butter
½ teaspoon peanut butter
Melt in microwave about one minute. Stir and drizzle over bars. Chill and cut in 2-inch squares
• By Ann “Grannie Annie” Berg, For the Peninsula Clarion