Wednesday, December 03, 2008

When I was little girl all the excitement of Christmas was built around waking on December 25th to see what Santa had left and to finally open the packages wrapped under the tree that I had been jiggling and shaking for days and days. That little girl still lives in me. But as the years have passed, I delight in the whole Christmas season rather than just the one day.
I find joy in the traditions that have been passed on to me and the new ones started with our family. Warm memories of beloved family and dear friends no longer with us can be found in the delicious aroma of goodies baking in the kitchen or sparkling ornaments on the tree. I took one such trip down memory lane today when I spent the morning baking in the kitchen.
It started with the first recipe, Magic Cookie Bars - the cookies my mom made when it was my turn to take refreshments to the weekly Camp Fire Girl meeting and my all-time favorite. Here the pan is cooling, underneath the pan to protect the table is the cutting board from my grandma's house. I have some hand work nearby. It's easy to get a few more applique stitches in while the next batch of cookies are baking in the oven.
As I mixed up a batch of Molasses cookies - a new this year tradition, from a recipe shared by Linda at LBP Sews, I was thinking about recipes and baking tips I learned from women who were not family but important in my girlhood. I spent a lot of time in the kitchen of our neighbor, Mrs. Neff, when I was growing up. And because of her, I came to know food as a comfort and a loving gift.
Together with her daughters, I helped her make pecan rolls every Christmas. Using nuts that her dad picked and shelled from a tree in his yard out of state, she made the center nugat wrapped in thick sheets of homemade caramel and rolled in more nuts. It's just not Christmas without a pecan roll. Each year, Hubby sees to it that Santa puts a pecan roll in my stocking.
Here are some of those delicious Molasses cookies fresh from the oven. The cookie sheets, cooling racks, and measuring spoons are all from my mom's kitchen. They are the utensils that I used when I began baking. I've had many different brands and types of cookie sheets over the years, but these are the only ones that I get consistent, good results with.
Wanting an assortment of cookies, I also made a batch of Oatmeal Raisin. My dad once told me they were his favorite and I've never forgotten.The trays are little tins that The Princess bought at a Christmas boutique in her kindergarten class. She was so very proud to make her own secret purchases. The trays have served us well for a good long time. Using them is as much a part of our traditions as the baked good they hold.
So I spent the morning with Christmas music in the background, walking down memory lane and maybe starting to feel just a little melancholy as I finished the clean up. Then The Princess came home from her classes, snitched a cookie from a tray and as she walked out of the kitchen she sighed and said, 'Ahhhhh. It tastes like Christmas.' I just couldn't have been happier!

26 comments:

Yvonne said...

Wonderful memories and traditions....thanks for sharing. :)

Rabbit Stitchings said...

ok girly put on some coffee I will be right over for some cookies and coffee!!! Some good chat and to look at all your lovely quilts!! What fun would that be!!!

Jeanne said...

I can almost smell the cookies myself. :)

Beth said...

Ok, I'm on my way down. Have the coffee ready and the cookies out! LOL I have had those magic cookie bars before, they are the BEST!

Wendy said...

Holy cow girl you are getting me in the Christmas spirit or what. My girls always look forward to the ginger snaps and coconut tarts I make. I can't start baking this week, I'll gain 10 pounds before Christmas is here...LOL

Joyce said...

There's nothing like Christmas baking! Yours looks delicious.

Carol said...

Great memories...that's part of what makes Christmas.

Carole said...

Sounds like a wonderful day to me! I do need to think about baking my cookies. Those Melasse one's are on my list! Traditions are important. My mum and I make tortiere, a French Canadian meat pie. We use my grandma's pie dough recipe. It's uniquely for the tortiere. So, what time do you want me over for tea and cookies? ;o) Hugs!

Judy said...

Ah, I'll enjoy your cookies. I don't bake that many because I just can't afford the calories and hubby won't eat them!

Mom has these tiny green glass slat and pepper shakers I bought for her on a field trip to Jamestown int he 3rd grade! they get used every biog family dinner and it's nice to remember I bought them for her!

kjquilts said...

Yummy! It all looks so good! Tell us about the quilt under the Magic Cookie Bars.

Sherry said...

I can relate to this post. My daughter brought my granddaughter over yesterday after she picked her up from school (she's in kindergarten). We baked cookies & we decorated one of our trees. I had cooked homemade vegetable beef soup all day (an extra pot for them to take home)as I always do when I make soup. Your cookies look so good, would love to reach out & taste each one! Happy Holidays!

Catherine said...

I can almost smell the cookies baking from here!! They look delicious!

May Britt said...

No wonder why christmas season is my favorite of all. The traditions, family, lights, smell, taste aso. I love christmas.

dee said...

I know just what you mean Libby. When our kids are old enough to appreciate the traditions it really takes ayour breath away for a minute. Just lovely.

Kathie said...

I love reading your stories, such nice memoires. Isn't it all worth while when the kids say things like that!

Stephanie D. said...

Christmas is the only holiday I know that involves all 5 senses.

If I could only reach through this computer screen....

Stina said...

Oh...I can almost smell it over here...just a wonderful wonderful aroma...mmmmm...
You just said the best words about christmas... memories and tradtions...it is just great...:o)

Candace said...

Thanks for the trip down memory lane, Libby! I love those Magic Cookie Bars and make them often! Cheers!

Chocolate Cat said...

Oh nostalgia I love it! My dad used to give everyone a scratchie lotto ticket at our Christmas eve dinner and it is something I continue till this day. I also still have some of my Nan's bakeware and they have certain uses, their is a particular dessert that can not be made in any other container!! I'm hoping to start the Christmas baking this weekend.

Quilts And Pieces said...

Oh man, we make magic cookie bars too! and why is it that our mother's pots and pans and cookie sheets last longer and work better than the stuff we buy now!

MARCIE said...

OMGosh Libby, what a wonderful thing for your daughter to say! All the senses must partake of Christmas! I love having my mom's measuring cups from when I was a child. And one I use has my grandmother's initial painted on by my grandfather so she wouldn't lose it when she took it to functions at church where she helped cook. Using it is like having her reach out and touch me. Aren't we sentimental?

Lea said...

Mouthwatering! *LOL*
Your baking is good as your quilts, YUM! :-)

Julia said...

Wow, your posts are always so full of love. You are a very talented lady in very many different ways. Your quilts are outstanding and the way you paint with words is amazing. This post made me think of the women in my life who have taught and inspired me. I can add you to that list of great women. (((((hugs)))))

Red Geranium Cottage said...

I've been thinking about dragging out all the cookies stuff too. I love baking cookies and giving them away to friends and neighbors.

Mrs. Goodneedle said...

I just love this post, Libby. I'm both hungry and nostalgic at the same time. I agree that your daughter's remark would be the highest compliment! Merry Christmas, friend! Yum.

Guðrún said...

Christmas time is all about traditions.