Our amazing neighbor has again created her annual cookie feast. Beginning before Thanksgiving, this working mother of two teens prepares one dough after another until she has perhaps 30 some types of cookies ready for her family and friends. No one knows how she actually does this, but we suspect elves are involved…remember the Shoemaker and the Elves story?
While many of us are busy working, shopping for gifts, and trying to keep our weight down during the holidays this shouldn’t excuse us from making at least one batch of real homemade cookies for the kids. And let’s make that something besides chocolate chip cookies. A big part of my holiday memories are my sister and I doing the baking for our mom, who much preferred cooking over cookies. We made coconut chews, sparkling date balls, thumbprints, and always Mom’s favorite eggnog cookies. Not ordinary, everyday cookies.
From what I see, many kids these days don’t get much experience in the kitchen. The other day two of my daughter’s young friends discovered math and science lessons in the making of our now-traditional giant batch of gingerbread cookies. How many teaspoons in a tablespoon, how many quarter-cups make 1 1/2 cups, why do we cream butter and sugar, why do we add baking soda? The girls loved taking turns measuring and stirring, accidentally spattering, blasting flour up out of the mixing bowl. (This is a time for parents to be cool about messes.) With the dough refrigerating for now, we’ll later roll it out, then cut it into gingerpeople, reindeer and bear shapes to be decorated. Is there any more fun for kids than rolling, cutting and decorating special cookies? I see how excited the kids are each year putting eyes and nonpareil buttons on the ginger people, painting cutout sugar cookies, or sprinkling sparkling sugar colors onto eggnog cookies. And personally, I’m glad I have some help now! For the final touch, several dozen gingerbread cookies will go to the church’s big cookie sale to help fund mission projects. How about making one of your missions this month a fun and delicious baking experience for the kids.
2 cups confectioner sugar
4 tsp light corn syrup
4 tsp milk
Mix sugar, syrup and milk. Separate into little bowls and add to each a few drops of food coloring. Use children’s watercolor paintbrushes to paint designs on baked cutout cookies. Can add nonpareils on top. Let dry completely before storing cookies.
Let the visions of sugarplums begin!