Thursday, December 10, 2009

The First Snow of '09

Let It Snow?
Let It Snow?
Let It Snow?

Just a quick post to share with you what I saw from my front door last
week when I was leaving for work.
(Please pardon the mini garbage dumpster in our driveway)

This is, of course, no novel sight to those of us living in the snow belt, but I
thought you of warmer climes might enjoy the sight of our first snow in

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Candy Cane Cookies

The Long and Winding Ropes
(with apologies to McCartney and Lennon)

This cookie recipe is one I have been making for donkeys' years.
(See the footnote if you really must know)

I first discovered it back when I had very few (three) cookbooks. One was
cooking for two, which we still numbered in those halcyon days; along with that I had the venerable red ring-bound Betty Crocker Cookbook; and then there was the
gold-covered but long-forgotten castoff of my mother's.

So you can see that my options were few. My childhood Christmas
memories are riddled with an apron-clad mother bustling around the kitchen,
turning out pan after pan of perfectly baked cookies for the holidays.
So what was more natural than when I started a family, that I should want to
carry on that all-American tradition with my kids?

Since my daughter was old enough to sit in her high chair and fiddle with a piece
of cookie dough without immediately scarfing it, she has assisted me in these bake-fests.
And when she was joined by three brothers in somewhat rapid succession,
they too joined us in our Christmas tradition.

In one afternoon, we'd decorate a double batch of cut-out sugar cookies, some almost
artfully done (those were mine), but most heaped high with colored frosting in the
dead center of the cookie, festooned with a variety of sprinkles, jimmies, and sugar sequins.
Never was a professional baker as proud of his most delicate and elaborate work
as they were of their very own creations.

I kick myself every time I look back on those days that I didn't take more
pictures. We have a precious few, mostly of my daughter the year she was
about six years old, and almost none of the boys while they worked.

And so it goes.

Every Christmas season I ask my kids which cookies I absolutely
have to make, and my youngest son always names these.

I usually try to make at least four or five new kinds each year, along with the
old favorites. Like this one.
And I always make the ropes too fat, so that they end up looking more like bent
cigars than candy canes. Rolled too thin, they're too hard to twist.
Colorful and a bit showy, they have a texture that's a cross between a standard sugar cookie
and a sable', toothsome and not too sweet.

This year I didn't even bother bending the crook into the top of the bloody--er, blessed
things; they are what they are.

And they taste just as good as every other year.

In the bottom picture you can see part of the recipe card that brought
me this dependable and delicious recipe.

Candy Cane Cookies
(adapted from an ancient* General Mills'
Betty Crocker Recipe Card Library)


1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup powdered sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
red and green food coloring


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Mix thoroughly the butter, shortening, powdered sugar, egg, and flavorings. Blend in flour and salt. Divide dough in half; blend food colors (green and red for Christmas) into each half.

Shape 1 teaspoon dough from each half into a 4 inch rope. For smooth, even ropes, roll them back and forth on lightly floured board (remember making snakes out of PlayDoh?). Place ropes side by side and twist them together, then roll to smooth out twisted colored ropes. Complete cookies one at a time and place on parchment-lined cookie sheets, curving one end of cookie rope to form a candy cane.

Bake about 8-9 minutes or until set and very, very light brown. If desired, crush peppermint candy canes and 1/2 cup white sugar and immediately sprinkle cookies with candy mixture; remove from baking sheet and transfer to wire cooling rack.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

*If you absolutely MUST know, it's from an old collection dated 1971. I received the collection in 1981 as a wedding gift.