Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Christmas in October

In an attempt to maybe have that magazine perfect Christmas, I invited Kelly-Across-the-Street over to make Christmas cookie dough to put in the freezer. That way, we'll be more ready for baking Christmas cookies with little ones who are more intent on alternately spilling and eating the frosting and decorative sprinkles, having to go poddy just after you've washed your hands for the fourth time or trying to tell you something important the minute you turn the mixer on.

Kelly is sifting with my Gramma Geneva's flour sifter, working on Gramma Geneva's red chrome table, and using Gramma Geneva's recipe for rolled out sugar cookies. This cookie has been a holiday tradition as long as I can remember. But, for years after Gramma died, I couldn't make her cookies. Only in the past few years have I been able to bring this tradition back into my life without pain.

The spritz cookie recipe was from Gramma Alice, a dear older Christian woman who raised six kids, saw them all marry believers and raise scads of Christian grandchildren for her. Alice and husband Marvin welcomed Scott and I into their hearts and home and we learned much from them about marriage, parenting and the Christian faith. I celebrate her spiritual influence on my life every Christmas by using her recipe for spritz cookies.
I am using my new Bosch mixer, a dream come true servant. Since I don't like learning how to do anything new, Kelly read the directions for me. I threw in four not-so-soft sticks of butter, sugar and vanilla and we watched through the clear top - marveling. Tim the Toolman would LOVE this mixer. So much power. You think you love your 325 watt Kitchen-aid mixer, try the Bosch 800 watt motor. Read that and weep. Lotsa power. Never again will I worry about not thawing out the butter long enough. If you want to check out incredible cooking gadgets, recipes and spiritual encouragement visit Urban Homemaker.

Since the kids were SO disappointed we weren't going to EAT any of the Christmas cookies that day, they mixed up a $1 Betty Crocker peanut butter cookie mix for the Easy Bake Oven. Don't let marketing strategy fool you, you don't have to buy their $5 mix to make 6 little cookies. You actually can use the grownup pouches and make WAY more cookies.
Since it takes several minutes to roll out the cookies and 7 minutes to cook four teensy-tiny cookies, the kids were kept out of our way for a long, long, long time.
Kelly and I were able to make double-batches of gingerbread, green and red spritz, sugar cookies and the nummy filling for peanut butter cups.
Next week, we'll make four more kinds of dough and then we will be ready for the fun part - baking, decorating and hiding the cookies from our husbands until we are ready to display them Martha Steward style on gorgeous trays, next to shimmering candles with the strains of Christmas music wafting through the air. Accompanied by the jostling and fussing of children debating over who gets the tree cookie or who gets the last peanut butter cup, of course.

When the kids got tired of making their teensy-tiny cookies, they decided to make forts, take the Barbies camping and touch everything they could find under the four foot high parameter in my
living room. I didn't care. They were having a blast. Rebekah has so few opportunities to play with kids, I needed her to play with abandon. They needed to play, pretend, imitate, dress-up and be kids. When Kelly and kids arrived I had informed them, "I didn't clean for you."
That doesn't mean they aren't important to me, that means I am comfortable enough to let them see the real me. Not the perfect me I wish I could at least to pretend to be while blogging and posting pics of my wonderful life. The real you-gotta-shovel-a-path-thru-the-living-room me.
But, because I didn't clean, it didn't matter if the kids messed it up. A lesson in hospitality I have learned over the years.

Gramma Geneva's Sugar Cookies
Cream together:
1 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 t. vanilla
2 beaten eggs
Sift together and add:
3 cups flour
2 t. baking powder
1 t. soda
1/4 t. nutmeg
1/2 t. salt
Chill dough. Roll out and cut with cookie cutters. Bake 350 for 8-10 minutes or until lightly brown.
Gramma Alice's Spritz Cookies
Cream together:
1 cup butter
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 t. vanilla
1/2 t. almond
food coloring (It's easier to add to wet ingredients, make it darker than you want it)
Sift together and add:
1 t. baking powder
2 1/4 cup flour
1/4 t. salt
Mix, add and put through cookie press. 350 for 8 minutes or until lightly brown.
Only 58 days until Christmas!
What are you working on? I'd love to be inspired more. That magazine perfect Christmas just might happen this year.....maybe.....just maybe....


  1. OOoh, you've gotten me in the Christmas spirit. Bah Humbug! ;) It is snowing here so I'm not feeling very enthused about that thought.

    Thanks so much for stopping by my blog. I hope we "sisters in Christ", "story telling queens" can get to know eachother this way.

    Jessie at Blog Schmog

  2. Sounds like fun. You made me very grateful for my Bosch mixer my mom insisted I buy before I got married. :-) Since I grew up with them, I have to say I haven't really appreciated their superior power.

    I'll have to pull it out and make some cookies!

  3. Stopping in to see how you are, as I am praying ;-)

    58 days! Wow, that is SOON.

    We are cutting back on Christmas spending this year, due to our adoption. So I am looking at lots of homey ways to celebrate simply and with lots of love.

    thanks for the recipes.

    mama to 7
    one homemade and 6 adopted

  4. What a brilliant idea! It will definitely make the holidays more relaxed to have some of this out of the way now. Banking up for future family time.. :)

  5. Hi! I'm a friend of Kelly's from VA, but was wondering how you work with the frozen dough - do you fridge defrost overnight, or something different? Love this idea of getting these steps done ahead of time!

  6. Emma,
    Great question! Thawing out the dough depends on how organized you are. Of course, fridge the night before would be awesome. You can also do the counter in the morning. The only caution is leaving it out at room temperature too long, but usually by the time it is room temp I am ready to use it. If I don't take it out soon enough, I cut the dough into smaller pieces to thaw faster. If it still isn't ready, I just warm it up with my hands, kneeding it until it is ready to be worked with. I know all the tricks for forgetting to take it out of the freezer in time. :)Thanks for stopping by!

  7. mindy,
    what a good idea!! i've always considered myself 'ahead' when i bake the cookies and freeze them before christmas but this....
    i did print out some return address labels today so i am getting things underway.

  8. Loved to hear how you have the tradition of the spritz cookie recipe from my grandma! How cool! She will be so blessed to hear that! My mom uses that recipe every year as well!


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