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Sunday, December 14, 2014

Cookies Aren't Just for Santa

The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas at my house has become Cookie Season.   The time, where I bake many kinds of cookies to load up on trays and in tins for gift giving.  

I think the very first cookie I ever baked was Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chips from the recipe on the bag.   I believe I was in HS at the time.  Never really needed to cook or bake as my mother did it all.    She always chased us out of the kitchen and out of her way, unless she needed help processing the food for the freezer or for canning. 

After I was out of HS and just before I got married, I was working at a local place when a coworker brought in a Cookie Tray loaded with the most amazing cookies.   When I asked her about the cookies she said they were Italian and she explained the many different kinds.   Before it was over she invited me to meet her mother and just maybe her mother might share the recipes with me.   A few weeks later I visited her parents and after tea and polite conversation her mother gave me two notebooks.   One for me to write in and the other for me to copy down the recipes that were contained within.   Wonderful people who have since passed, blessings amongst us. 

Around  that same time, I had met and was engaged to my husband who is 100% Italian.  When we got engaged, his family was big on family get togethers.  We had large family get togethers, for birthday's, holidays, engagements, weddings, graduations and whatever else you could think of.    It was during these times that these delicious Italian desserts and cookies would appear.   So I started collecting recipes from anyone who would share them with me.   There were recipes from my mother and mother-in-laws recipe box.  Some handed down from generation to generation.   I collected recipes from Aunts and Uncles, recipes from co-workers and friends. Some were on handwritten cards, others on paper and a few thrown in, clipped from the newspapers and/or torn out of magazines. 

And then, there was a time when local cookbooks were all the rage.   These cookbooks were put together by different committees of local organizations, churches and clubs and then sold as fundraisers.   These books often contain many gems.    Again containing recipes handed down from generation to generation.   If you own one or two or three, you know what I am talking about.    Have you ever noticed that the Cookies, Cakes, and Dessert sections are the largest parts of the book?  That is because everyone likes dessert.  Ha, ha, ha.

Next were the Cookie Exchange Parties.   A party where the host invites you and many others into their home to swap cookies.  Once there, you exchange a particular cookie that you baked with the many other guests who also baked a cookie.    Yes sometimes there are duplicates but it’s all in fun.   Depending on the number of guest invited you usually bake 6-7 dozen of a singular cookie recipe.  You exchange at the party and return home with the 6-7 dozen mixture of everyone’s cookies.   The exchange can either be simple or elaborate as you make it.   The host usually serves drinks and appetizers.  Some play games and award prizes for best cookie, cutest cookie, etc.   Any way you do it is a fun night together with friends and family.  I have attended my share and all were different and fun in their own way.  

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear, tis the season of computers, searching and printing and testing. Yes, the wonderful computer brought about my addiction to searching for more wonderful recipes and many included wonderful photos to tempt one even more.   Print and save, print and save, bookmark, bookmark, bookmark.   

As if that wasn't enough, along came Pinterest (a web based program on the computer) for over stimulation.  Make and create computerized bulletin boards of your favorite links so now you can categorize and search photos of your favorite recipes and/or other links.   No more boring bookmark and favorites with just a list of broken links.   Hello, my name is Loraine and I have a problem.    

Somewhere between the computer's beginning and Pinterest, I learned to stop searching via the web and started searching via Images.   Yup, I look for my recipes via the image search.  This way I can choose those recipes that look the most appetizing to me. I find that when testing these recipes they only need a few tweaks or changes and usually turn out the best, keepers in my book.  

What does one do with all those cookies?   You can exchange, give them as gifts, take a tray to a holiday celebration or wedding, serve them to your family, or even put some out for Santa.   If you're a computer nut like me you can post your recipes on line and share them with family, friends and the rest of the World Wide Web.     

You will find recipes for tried and true cookies to add to your recipe collection through this post and the next few.    Enjoy.   

Lets start with the Chocolate Sugar Cookies Bears.   I found a photo of these cute little bear cookies on the internet,  they were holding whole almonds.  However, I could not try the recipe posted, as the sight kept freezing up my computer.   So I used my favorite Chocolate recipe instead.   

Instead of holding almonds, mine are holding giant M&Ms. I used small teddy bear cookie cutter, but a small gingerbread man would look cute too.   

Here is the recipe for making Plain Sugar Cookie Cut Outs.  Note this recipe does not contain any baking powder (baking powder makes the cookies spread).    

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From the bottom of my heart..............