As a personal historian, I strongly believe in preserving memories from the past, one story at a time. But I also believe in the value of deliberately creating new family memories.
I have a little five-year-old granddaughter named Emily. Yesterday afternoon we made and decorated Christmas cookies together – just the two of us. Christmas music played softly in the background and the kitchen smelled wonderful with the aroma of sugar cookies baking in the oven. You should have seen us. There was flour, cookie sprinkles and bits of cookie dough everywhere. Emily was covered in ingredients—it was a miracle that any of it made it to the oven. We laughed, giggled, oohed and ahhed over our creative efforts.
By the end of our time together we had decorated thirty cookies. Some looked better than others. But all were beautiful examples of the fruits of our labor, two sets of hands working lovingly together. Undoubtedly, this sweet memory will not be forgotten anytime soon!
In case you’d like to do some Christmas baking with your children or grandchildren, the following is a delicious sugar cookie recipe that I have used for years:
2¼ cups all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup white granulated sugar
¾ cup unsalted butter
1 large egg
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Soften butter. In a mixing bowl, cream together sugar and butter until fluffy. Add egg, lemon zest and vanilla extract and beat until blended. In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining dry ingredients. On low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients to the butter and sugar mixture and mix together. If mixture seems dry, add a little water, a few drops at a time, only until the dough starts to come away from the sides of the bowl.
With a spatula scrape the dough out of the bowl and on to a piece of plastic wrap. Using the plastic wrap press the dough into a thick flat disc. Refrigerate for at least two hours.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out cookie dough to a 1/8 inch thickness. Cut shapes with cookie cutters. Use a metal spatula to transfer cookies on to a cookie tray. Be sure not to crowd cookies on tray.
Preheat oven 350 degrees. Bake for 8 to 12 minutes or until the cookies begin to brown around the edges.
Cool cookies on wire racks before decorating. Hint: visit your local grocery store’s baking aisle for colored icings, sprinkles and edible glitter.
What memories will you create with your family this holiday season?