Monthly Archives: December 2011

Getting the cookies ready – Christmas

from the family of Soldier’s Joy

My mother-in-law introduced me to the tradition of having cookies at this season of year, and I have made an obsession out of it. I have been trying to cut back, because often in the last decade there aren’t enough young or thin people around, people who eat cookies with abandon.

But preparing several kinds and stashing them in the freezer has become a tradition, and this year, in anticipation of having many potential appreciators in the house, I have been enjoying baking. There must be some connection to childlikeness there, but I can’t get into thinking too much about it, because the cookies that are in the oven right now might burn while I am philosophizing.

So I will just give you some pictures and recipes for a few of the favorites we have discovered over the years. I wrote before with photos of Neapolitans. They are beautiful cookies and very nice to eat, too!


Bizcochitos are the State Cookie of New Mexico. They have anise and cinnamon and crunch, and many local variations.

Chunky Ginger Spice

Chunky Ginger Cookies are full of spice including ginger in the chewy crystalline form.

I have a whole book of Peppernut cookie history and recipes, given to me by a friend many years ago, but I insisted on devising my own recipe, which includes diced fruit-flavored gumdrops and makes cookies that are no bigger than nuts.

A couple of years ago I found Chocolate Macaroons on the Odense website. The only change I made from their recipe is to use extra-large egg whites. The dough seems to me a little runny (even when I tried adding a little extra flour) to be called “paste,” but after sitting in the fridge overnight it was easily rolled into a ball that baked into a nicely shaped cookie. The main ingredient is almond paste, so if you like marzipan you will appreciate them.

This is my last post for Pom Pom‘s Childlike Christmas Party. I’m glad she hosted the party, because it gave me the structure I needed to get any blogging at all done in this busy month. Thank you, Pom Pom!

It’s been very much fun! Merry Christmas to all! And if you have cookies at Christmas, please eat one of each kind for me.

Snowmen and Jello – Christmas

Two Glad Grandboys

While we are waiting for Christmas and preparing our gifts, and thinking about what Santa and our parents are preparing for us, children are lucky if we have some snow around with which to build a snowman or snowlady.

My own grandchildren sometimes have that. But when I was a child, I only had the beloved “Frosty the Snowman” 45 to play on my little record player.

It’s the only record I remember from my youth until I bought such ones as “Like a Rolling Stone,” and I listened to the Frosty tale over and over so that I can still hear the voice — maybe it was Red Foley — in my head. On the other side he sang “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” The image below is not quite like what I owned, but it evokes the memory well enough.

I remain snowless, and don’t mind a bit. Besides, I can watch “The Snowman” on video. Those who lack the technology for watching movies (and I know there must be some of those people still, though they are probably not the ones reading this) could read the wordless book The Snowman.

But the video is so enchanting, with its haunting tune. The first time I borrowed the movie from the library, it was a version with the song, but since then I have only found it with a purely instrumental score. We are all fortunate now, and I am more than pleased to tell you that YouTube has a clip that includes sung lyrics of “Walking in the Air.”

When I turned fifty a friend took me browsing in a quilt shop to pick out a few pieces of fabric as a birthday present from her. Several prints called to mind images from the adventures of the snowman and his little boy, and I took rectangles of them home with a theme brewing.

I sewed by hand several potholders that I call my Snowman Potholders. Of course, they have nothing to do with Christmas, except for their frequent role in pulling pies out of the oven for Christmas dinner.

Waiting….We Orthodox are still waiting until December 25 (or January 7) for the feast and waiting to feast, because we are preparing our hearts, which are tightly bound to our bodies. But participation in the Advent fast needn’t mean that children of any age must forgo all goodies. I made this festive rainbow jello for one Christmas Day, but while we are still fasting it seems to me it could easily be made with some soy or coconut milk replacing the small dairy part of the recipe.


1 (3 oz.) package (each flavor) raspberry, lime, orange, lemon, and strawberry Jell-O

6-1/4 cups water
1-1/4 cups evaporated milk

Dissolve raspberry Jell-O in 1 cup boiling water. Remove 1/2 of Jell-O to a bowl and add 1/4 cup cold water. Place into a 9-inch square pan. Place in refrigerator until slightly firm. To the remaining half of Jell-O, add 1/4 cup evaporated milk. Cool and place over slightly firm layer in pan. Continue procedure with remaining flavors of Jell-O in this order: lime, orange, lemon, and strawberry. Cool each mixture before layering. Chill completely. Cut into squares to serve. Yield: serves 8 to 12. 

Now I’m trying to figure out how to tweak this colorful recipe into a frozen dessert. It already has the brightness of Tolkien’s wintery image, and I think I might attract my snowmen friends to my holiday table if I just advertise that for dessert we are serving a treat called “Northern Lights.”

(This is the third in my contributions to Pom Pom‘s Childlike Christmas Party.)