If you know me at all, then you know the significance of this past weekend. For the past 12 or is it 13 years now, the Friday, Saturday and Sunday following Thanksgiving is the weekend of the annual Christmas Cookie Baking Marathon! This event is so important to me that when I was working I would even take that Friday off from work (something I didn't even do when I was sick and should have taken the time off) so that I could make those cookies.
Ever since we left Connecticut, on this particular weekend, I make a ridiculous number of cookies and mail them to our kids. It has become a tradition. I'm not very talented or clever and certainly not artistic. But what I CAN do, is make cookies. I love to bake and I'm fairly good at it. So I suppose, it is a way to give something of myself to my children so that, even though we don't get to see each other very often anymore, it is a very real, tangible, connection. It is very important to me.
A friend asked me this morning how many cookies when I do this. To be honest, it's different every year. This year it was 16 kinds of cookies and one batch of fudge. She was wowed and said, '16? I had no idea that there even were 16 different kinds of cookies". I just laughed. Someone else asked what kinds of cookies I make each time. Again, it changes.
I try to make at least one of each of the kids favourites. Six kids (the boys plus their girls, I consider them all MY kids) means at least six different kinds right off the bat. This year, Jessie requested chocolate chip cookie bars. It's just a chocolate chip pan cookie cut into squares but she loves them. In the past her favourite was ginger snaps but I'm fine with changing a favourite. Hurley especially likes frosted sugar cookies. You know the ones. They are cut out in shapes, bells, Christmas trees, stars, etc. and then frosted and dusted with sprinkles. The cookie never changes but the decoration does, different colours, different sugars, etc.
I know that Corbin loves peanut butter so I do the peanut blossoms with him in mind. That's the peanut butter cookie with the Hershey kiss on top. So yummy. Julie is particularly fond of cookies with nuts in them. I use an old recipe called Lily cookies. It calls for walnuts, but I always substitute pecans. I have nothing against walnuts and often use them in baking, but I prefer pecans in this recipe. Fortunately, Julie agrees.
Oldest boy has always adored anything lemon. I make my lemon bars especially for him. He has actually never said to me, please make the lemon bars, but he also never says to stop making them. So I am going to guess that it's still a favourite. His lovely lady has a passion for my oatmeal toffee cookies. I always make sure those are included as well. It's a little twist on an old favourite and makes them so very chewy.
I always make a few of my personal favourites too. There are just a few cookies that it doesn't seem like Christmas without. My recipes come from all over the place. Most of them at least started as old family recipes. But sometimes I fiddle with them a bit adding a little something or changing it up at little. Other recipes come from friends, magazines and online. But some cookie recipes I thought up all on my own.
Every year I make sure that there is at least one new cookie in the box. Something I've never made before, never heard of before, never thought of before that weekend. That is the most fun part. Oh, I enjoy it all of course, but inventing my own new cookie idea? That is the best. Stretching that creative part of me and thinking of something I've never thought of before is awesome. This year, I came up with three new ones. It was a banner year for new ideas. Some of those ideas are better than others. And I eagerly await the reports that will be coming in from my taste testers. These are good, these are okay, these were terrible. I need that report card!
Of course I don't do this alone. 16 cookies and one batch of fudge in three days is a lot. I have an awesome inhouse sous chef. Tim is right by my side the entire time, washing the dishes between batches, helping to decorate, looking at each recipe as I'm working and anticipating what I need next and encouraging my crazy ideas. Simply could not do this without his help.
So in short, another Christmas Cookie Baking Marathon is behind us and I'm ready to move on to the next Christmassy task. After I wash the kitchen floor again. I am a good baker but a very messy one.
Yup, this is me. Some people said, "Sam, you should write a Blog". "Well, there's a thought", I thought to myself. And so here it is.