We were fine with all the parties, cards, gifts and decorating, until the week before Christmas. Despite my flu shot in early October, a rogue strain kicked my butt to the bed for 1-½ days, and then Chris caught it, too. We lost 3 days of last-minute gift-purchasing and stressing over stocking-stuffers (disclosure: We didn’t even hang the stockings, let alone stuff them).
The important things were done, so by Christmas Eve we were all fine, attending our friends’ annual open house (they knock themselves out with the baking, steaming, cooking and gracious hosting), then home to watch some Christmas movies with our son, who arrived with his friend’s dog, on Saturday while we were out.
Some of our holiday traditions are from Chris’s and my childhoods, and some are what we’ve adapted over the years. My mother made an Italian sausage stew based on a recipe her friend passed to her; whoever wandered in on Christmas Eve had a generous serving on a crusty Italian roll. I’ve made it since the early 90s, both by my mother’s guidelines and with vegan variations, depending on who’s wandering in.
As a child I learned to bake all kinds of Christmas cookies from my mother. We’d make nearly a dozen varieties of press cookies, stamped cookies, sugar cookies, etc., then divide them into various containers to share with our neighbors, family and friends.
I’ve continued the tradition of cookie & sweets baking/sharing over the years. As a young adult with amazing roommates I was given the recipe for Winter’s Best Gingersnaps. Ginger cookies, whether snaps (crunchy) or wafers (chewy) were a marker for fall, and my birthday, right up to Christmas, although my mother, grandmother & I didn’t bake them.
I’ve made these cookies in the fall, for Christmas cookie exchanges, and deep winter warm-me-ups. They aren’t just for Christmas. Enjoy!
Winter’s Best Gingersnaps
¾ cup butter
¾ cup shortening (I use all butter)
2-¼ cup sugar
½ cup molasses
4 cups unbleached wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons cloves
2 teaspoons ginger
Sift all dry ingredients together. Work butter (& shortening, if using) until creamy, then gradually work in 2 cups of sugar until mixture is light. Now beat in eggs and molasses very thoroughly. Gradually added sifted dry ingredients, beating well after each addition. Beat hard, and don’t be alarmed if the batter is soft. Refrigerate at least an hour or overnight.
Preheat oven to 375*. Roll pieces of dough into 1″ balls, dip into remaining sugar (if desired). Place on greased baking sheet about 3″ apart and back 12-15 minutes. Remove cookies from oven, let stand 1 minute. Remove and cool on rack.
So, a cookie good for dunking in milk or coffee, and not as sweet as you might think. I hope you enjoy making and eating them as much as I do.
Now, what’s next for baking? Maybe bring back homemade bread. Fodder for another post.