Monday, December 17, 2007
Christmas is a week from tomorrow. Some people are baking cookies already. The Writer never has time to bake any more, but she remembers the goodies her mother used to bake.
The Writer's mother began "lining" up her recipes after Thanksgiving and would start baking in early December. She stored cookies in the "cold room," an extra bedroom with the heat turned off. As a little girl, The Writer would sneak in there and snick from this tin and that one, hastily rearranging the remainder and leaving a trail of crumbs.
The Writer loved her mother's cut-out butter cookies best. She would watch her mother roll out the dough with her old one-handled rolling pin. The Writer pressed the old aluminum and plastic cookie cutters in the dough--the blue elephant was our favorite! Then The Writer would roll scraps of dough with her own little rolling pin and make tiny dog cookies with her own little red cookie cutter.
After The Writer was married, her mother baked at The Writer's house. The Writer always got sick from eating too many rich butter cookies, her mother usually set the tea towel on fire, and she invariably wrecked The Writer's kitchen. Flour swirled in a blizzard, Crisco was ground into the counters, dollops of dough spotted the floor. The Writer and her mother snacked on M&Ms they chopped for M&M bars, talked longingly of the old days, gobbled cookies still hot from the oven, and had the kind of fun only mothers and daughters can share.
It has been nearly 20 years since The Writer and her mother baked together. This time of year The Writer wishes she could spend one more December afternoon making Mexican wedding cookies, pecan cookies, and those famous iced butter cookies. The Writer would let her mother make the biggest mess ever, and she'd be glad.
Here is the recipe for The Writer's mother's pecan cookies. It stores well and isn't so sweet the kids will be tempted to nip in the tin too many times:
3/4 cup shortening
1 1/2 cup brown sugar
2 cups sifted flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. baking soda
1/4 cup chopped pecans
Cream shortening, add sugar, blend in egg. Sift dry ingredients three times. Add to mixture. Stir in nuts. Shape into roll, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate until chilled. Slice wafer thin. Bake at 350 5 to 10 minutes.