Everyone has traditions. No matter what the family, it is something you do Every year without fail. Traditions give our lives meaning and they are fun. (Or you wouldn’t have started doing them in the first place right?)
So for the month of December, I will be sharing some of our family traditions. Hopefully preserving them for the family memory. As girls growing up, we always did a cookie day with my mom around Christmas. After I had gotten married, I would go back to the house, and bake cookies with them. Fast forward a few years, and it has developed into a day of baking, eating and talking!
We have generally wound up at my house, as it is a large kitchen and then we use the dining room to put all the cookies out. The house smells incredible. To me, it’s the start of the Christmas season. Who else but my family will appreciate all my Christmas decorations and it’s ‘cuteness’ factor, while I get to cook?
Cookies are the main goal of cookie baking day though. We get more done, my sister and I sometimes, have dough already prepped, but it is usually the dough that requires rolling into balls that we do together. Chocolate dipped pretzels, brownies, biscotti, fudge you name it, we’ve probably baked it. We haven’t ventured into candy making too much aside from Frangos, (mmmm my personal favorite) or the truffles that we attempted last year.
The plus side to all sharing of the labor, my aunt who doesn’t enjoy baking as much, is always willing to do the scut work. She unwraps all the Rollos, the caramels, and does dishes. Keep in mind, she’s fast, and you have to watch her, or she washes things before you even realize that it’s been put down. My sister, Megan (above), is a champion cookie/oven watcher. As you can imagine five to six females talking, can talk over the oven buzzer. Luckily for us, Megan is always aware of the oven, how many minutes, and when she can get another tray into the oven.
So because we are using the stove and kitchen pretty much exclusively for the cookies, lunch time becomes a bit problematic. We have gone out, ordered in, but what seems to work the best just seems to be soup and salad, usually with some bread. Every one can eat at their own pace, or we throw something like biscotti or shortbread that take a while to bake, so we can eat without the jumping up and down. One soup that never seems to get old, is Creamy Corn Chowder.
Creamy Corn Chowder
In small frying pan, fry 4 -5 slices of bacon until crisp. Remove from pan, drain and crumble. In frying pan, leave 2 T. of drippings and fry 1/4 of diced white onions. This can all be done ahead of time, like the night before. Next day, using your crock pot, put the onion in with 1 can evaporated milk, 1 can of cream of chicken soup, 2 cans of creamed corn, 1 diced potato, and 1 bag of frozen corn. Stir well. Add 1 can of chicken broth. Turn crockpot on low for four to six hours, depending on brand of crock pot.
The other recipe that is made every year without fail. A homemade version of Frango Mints. They are the ultimate chocolate treat. This recipe is courtesy of my mother’s ‘bestest’ friend in the whole wide world.. Karen. I learned early as a child, if it was a ‘karen’ recipe it was worth eating. She’s an amazing cook.
Melt 12 oz. of chocolate chips Cool. While chocolate is cooling, mix together, 1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar, & 2 unbeatened eggs. Cream 1/2 c. unsalted butter, with the sugar egg mixture. Add cooled chocolate, and then add 2 tsp. vanilla and 1/2 tsp of peppermint extract. Pour into a dish lined with waxed paper or foil for easier extraction. Chill. (Usually it’s so cold in Colorado on cookie baking day, we’ve chilled it on the back deck in a pile of snow.) Cut into small cubes… it’s extremely rich, but oh so… yummy.
At the end of the day, the dining room table, and kitchen table are full of treats and we divide into tupperware, cookie tins and bags. Some we keep, the majority that I make, get given away. That way I just don’t sit and eat them all. 🙂 So there you have it, tradition #1. Cookie baking day in a nutshell.