Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Object of my Baking

It's day two of the official Christmas countdown in our home. A high of 64 today confuses my emotions a bit as I fight back tears at every mentioned tradition of old. The day is busy and I long to sit and rest but the excitement of my girls wins out and I settle into my kitchen for much of my day.

Today we made what I call Aunt Becky's Christmas Cookies. Growing up, I looked forward to the celebration with my maternal side of the family. Every year, my Aunt Becky would bring her sour cream cut-out cookies; brightly frosted and melt-in-your-mouth delicious. It was a highlight of the season for me. I could dream about the colorful frosted treats even today.

For a good handful of years or more now, I have been baking a spread of Christmas cookies. Needing some color for the tray, it seemed logical to ask my aunt for her coveted recipe. Only one batch of cookies needs to be baked due to the fact that it makes around 60 cookies. I think the girls enjoy helping make these the most due to the fact that they can help cut-out the shapes to frost and decorate prior to enjoying the treat on their tongues.

The dough is a little delicate and sticky so they don't get to help roll it out. With the girls lined up at the counter, chosen cookie cutter in hand, my aggravation with the rolling pin in hand grew. I expressed my frustration agreeing with my daughter's clarification that the dough (and not my children) was the object of annoyance.

Eventually, the dough was rolled out and trees, stars, stockings and candy canes took shape. While I had forgotten to preheat the oven, it appeared things were going smoothly. I put the first pans of cookies in the oven setting the timer for the lesser 10 minute timeframe than the 12 potentially needed. With 2 minutes remaining on the timer, my nose alerted my senses. Opening the oven, I was immediately irritated to find burnt cookies.

Apparently, ovens don't work exactly as they should when they approach 17 years of operation. The next batches all cooked in less than 7 minutes each and I managed to salvage this Advent experience.

This seems more and more to be a year of learning to let go. While today did not play out quite to my satisfaction, it was a good Christmas memory for my girls. They each enjoyed decorating cookies, licking frosting and eating sprinkles. My Christmas tray may not be to perfection but my love for my girls was the object of my baking; not the approval of others. It's about time I learn that.

Aunt Becky's Christmas Cookies

1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup shortening (butter preferred)
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. vanilla
5 cups flour


1 lb. powdered sugar
1 Tb milk (add up to 5 Tbs to desired consistency)
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 c. butter (preferred)

Mix ingredients together. Spray and flour pan well. Roll out dough in pan with plenty of flour to prevent breaking cut-outs. Cut out cookies. Roll out to 1/4" or less. Preheat oven to 400*. Cook 10-12 minutes. Cool completely. Frost and decorate. Freeze cookies after cooling for best results.

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