Normally I don’t do much baking after the holidays end, but if a pandemic isn’t a reason to depart from the norm, what is? We’ve taken our daily walk and want to be safe and respectful of social distancing and sheltering in place, and cookies seem like a good stay-at-home activity.
But what to bake? Unlike the holidays, I haven’t gone on a special shopping trip for unusual supplies — and an extended trip to the besieged grocery store for random baking supplies doesn’t seem wise under the circumstances. I’ve examined the cupboards with care, and figured I could make what we’ll call “Stay-At-Home cookies” in honor of our fight against the coronavirus.
Ingredients: 1 1/4 cup margarine; 1 cup regular sugar; 1 cup brown sugar; 2 eggs; 1 tsp vanilla, 2 cups all-purpose flour; 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon; 1 tsp baking soda; 1 tsp salt; 3 cups uncooked oatmeal; 1 cup chopped nuts; 1/2 cup peanut butter
Combine margarine, sugar, and brown sugar and cream until well blended. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until smooth and creamy. Add in flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt; beat until combined. Add in oatmeal, nuts and peanut butter and try to keep your spouse from eating the batter. Try some yourself and admit it is pretty tasty. Drop heaping spoonfuls onto a cookie sheet covered with parchment, then bake at 385 degrees for 12 minutes. Have some more of that tasty dough. Drink a beer or other adult beverage of your choice while baking; preferably while listening to ‘60’s music. Let cookies cool on baking sheet while you enjoy another beer and find yourself dancing to Woolly Bully.
How many cookies this generates depends on how much dough you consume during the batter/beer/Woolly Bully steps.
The cookies and fudge have been carefully — and more or less equally — distributed to their respective tins, in the last step in the holiday baking process. I was pleasantly surprised to see that I baked just the right amount to fill up our tins, without a lot of tempting cookies left over or an egregious shortfall.
This year we’ll be sending out 24 tins to friends, family, and colleagues– the most ever. And I can fairly say that, after the last few days, I will be perfectly content not to see a cookie for a while.
Today was another full day of baking and fudge preparation, and I’m almost done. Tomorrow night I’ll ice the sugar cookies and fill up the tins. For now, though, it’s time to rest my aching feet, drink a beer, and watch the Browns gag away another game.
We’ve been baking all day and making good progress on this year’s batch of holiday cookies. So far we’ve baked the cranberry hootycreeks, the peanut butter and almond cookies, the Dutch spice cookies, the sugar cookie cutouts, and the lemon ricotta cookies. I’m having some fun experimenting with some new toppings– like maraschino cherries — and have managed to resist spoon-licking temptation (for the most part, anyway).
Tomorrow we’ll tackle this year’s new cookies, make some fudge and bar cookies, and try to show some decoration flair with icing the sugar cookies.
The internet is a wonderful thing — at least, some of the time — but sometimes sifting through the mass of available information seems overwhelming. Run a search for Christmas cookie recipes and you will get an avalanche of hits that leaves you no method, aside from random chance, to pick which website to review. They all promise to offer favorite recipes that people will love.
That’s where the use of finer search terms become necessary. I realized this when I happened across a website post that featured the best soft Christmas cookie recipes — just in case you’re baking for the toothless among us who must gum their holiday delicacies. So this year I did a search for Christmas cookie recipes from the 1960s and ran across a treasure trove of options, including this gem, which is described on yellowed print as “Easy-to-make cookies for those who like a not-too-sweet dessert” that are “good keepers and shippers.” I’m pretty sure Mom made these, by the way.
Ingredients: 1 cup soft butter; 1/2 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar; 1 teaspoon vanilla extract; 2 1/2 cups unsifted flour; 1/4 teaspoon salt; red and yellow food coloring
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cream butter, sugar, and vanilla until light. Stir in flour and salt until well blended, then divide dough in half.
Color one half with 1/4 teaspoon of red food coloring and 7 drops of yellow food coloring. Leave other half uncolored. Chill the dough.
Press together one level teaspoon of each color. Roll into a pencil shape, then form in a coil on the baking sheet. Bake for 8 minutes at 375 degrees.
The holiday baking season is rapidly approaching, which means its prep time.
Prep time involves taking stock of what’s in the cabinet and what I’ll need to get from the store before the baking begins in earnest. After I check on that’s in the cupboard, and how much is really left in that bottle of vanilla or that container of nutmeg, I’ll prepare a comprehensive list and then make a big trip to the store. Prep time also means checking on the continuing functionality and status of the KitchenAid mixer, the Cuisinart, the cookie sheets, the mixing bowls, and the other implements that are a key part of the baking process. And where are we on cookie tins?
Since I like to try to make a few new recipes every year, the prep process also means checking out cooking and baking websites to look for some interesting new recipes. I’ll be doing that over the next few days, too. If anyone has any suggestions, I’m all ears.