I’ve heard several people remark that Christmas has come to quickly this year.

Well, it comes the same time every year, Dec. 25. So why do we, myself included, often feel as if it has come quicker than in previous years.

Maybe it’s the hustle and bustle of our lives. It’s a week before Christmas and I haven’t baked one single cookie. The days have gone by without a moment to spend baking and soon those days have turned into weeks.

Now with the last week looming before us, its make or break time for Christmas cookies. If they are not made this week then there is no sense in making them at all.

Now that may be good for my waistline but family members tend to get a little grumpy when they are expecting homemade cutout cookies made from Mom’s recipe and instead get a plate of store-bought chocolate chip. So this week I will endeavor to make a few kinds of Christmas cookies. Cutouts and raisin-filled for sure as they have already been requested. I may even do some mincemeat-filled, gingerbread and date pinwheels if the time is there. Time really isn’t an excuse as I’m starting vacation today, but I’ve realized that I have to be in the mood to bake. I love doing it and it doesn’t take much to have me thinking of baking. I just need to plan ahead so I’m not rattling the cookie sheets at midnight.

I’m ready to step back to those memories of Christmases of old when Mom would bake up a batch or two of cutout cookies (sugar cookies) for my siblings and I to decorate. They were never the smooth, modern type of cookie that uses the smooth glaze so that every detail is perfect. No these cutouts are a thick, soft sugar cookie that has colored icing spread on thickly with dabs here and there depending on the shape. A Christmas tree would be frosted with green icing and then red drops would be placed here and there as if they were red ball ornaments hanging on the tree. Simple, rustic even in looks but tasty and sparking memories of childhood days at Christmastime.

So as I prepare to bake some Christmas goodies this week, I will once again share this favorite family recipe for soft, sugar cookies. But if your heart is set on chocolate chip, I’ve added a favorite family recipe for that as well.

Happy baking!

SOFT SUGAR COOKIES

2 cups sugar

1 cup lard or shortening

2 eggs

1 cup milk

1 tsp. vanilla

2 tsp. baking powder

3 1/2 to 5 cups flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. cream of tartar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream sugar and shortening together. Add eggs and vanilla. In separate bowl, mix dry ingredients together. Alternate adding dry ingredients (a little at a time) and milk to egg mixture.

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured service but don’t roll it too thin. Cut out holiday shapes with cookie cutters. Lightly pat shape to remove excess flour before placing on cookie sheet. (Line cookie sheets with foil for easy cleanup.)

Bake for seven to 10 minutes. Remove from cookie sheet and cool on wire racks. Once cool, ice with favorite icing.

Note: If you want cookies with sugar on top rather than icing, sprinkle sugar (regular or colored) onto cookies before baking.

(Aunt Marnie’s) CHOCOLATE BIT COOKIES

1 cup butter

3/4 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tbsp. hot water

2 1/4 cups flour

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. vanilla

Chocolate bits (chips)

Nuts

Preheat oven to 370˚.

Cream together butter, sugars. Disolve soda in hot water. Mix soda with creamed mixture, alternating with dry ingredients (flour and salt).

Last add chocolate bits, nuts and vanilla. Drop by teaspoons onto cookie sheet.

Bake at 370˚ for 10-12 minutes.

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