Friday, December 4, 2009

Let the Christmas baking commence

THOMY and I don't have very many Christmas traditions anymore. Some years we hoist up the big tree, some years the small tree, once we draped garland in the living room and hung the ornaments from that. For a few random years, we didn't decorate at all. Not a single strand of tinsel.

Early in my marriage, I sent out Christmas cards. I used my wedding invitation list as my address list--big mistake--and it was such a behemoth that I broke it up into two groups: A-M would get cards on even-numbered years, N-Z who would get them on odd years. And then, somehow, and shockingly, they all ended up in the No Way I'm Cramping My Hand This Year list. Whenever I sent out cards, though, I included a holiday-relevant recipe. If I send out cards again, I'll continue to do this. I even have a recipe in mind, which I'll probably share on the blog soon.

Anyway, all those traditions were long, long ago. In recent years THOMY has pulled out his grandmother's peppernuts recipe, the HUGE stainless steel bowl, and cleared out space in the freezer to spend three evenings rolling, cutting, and baking a bushel of the tiny cookies.

THOMY's Peppernuts

Oh, and then there're the midnight Christmas Eve service and the one party we go to every year. But that's it for our traditions. We don't buy as many presents anymore, either. I can't stand the jammed parking lots and long lines. Staying home has taken a lot of stress out of the holiday, thankfully.

Without the busyness, however, I've felt adrift when the Christmas season comes around, especially since Dad's passing. Dad would have Christmas dinner with us, and now it's just THOMY and myself. And, actually, I'm okay with that. I like the quiet. I like not having to travel. We use the good china and my mom's crystal and spoon food out of pretty serving bowls. We take our time and enjoy the day.

All the days leading up to Christmas, though, seem too...ordinary. Because I'm not really observing the season. So this year I am. Through food.


Recently I asked THOMY if there was one thing he remembers from the Christmases of his youth, and he mentioned his mom's thumbprint cookies. I have a recipe for them already, so today I made a batch.

Thumbprint Cookies

He thinks him mom used green pepper and red pepper jellies. Well, those flavors will just have to stay in Nostalgialand. My version has red currant and mint apple jellies. I milled a quarter cup of sliced almonds in my coffee grinder to coat the cookies in almond dust. My pudgy thumbprints are clumsy for the small size of the cookies. I think I'll make the next ones bigger.

My second baking endeavor will attempt to recreate my mom's fried Rosette cookies. I bought a set of irons three or four years ago and now have the courage to heat up some oil and use them.

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