My mother always does a load of baking for Christmas each year. She did this when we were younger and still continues to do so; and it’s not only her children that look forward to her baking. Mom has always made extra and each year I know she makes a special batch of brownies especially for my cousin Wayne as he loves her brownies. It’s a shame she doesn’t have a flock of grand kids living near her at times like these.
For the last few years I have done some baking myself. I have asked mom for a number of her recipes i.e. chocolate snowballs, cherry balls, peanut butter balls and peanut butter squares. Some recipes I gather from elsewhere, especially this site here. Barry’s holiday recipes are fantastic, not to mention everything else he does. His short breads really do melt in your mouth and always go down a treat at our house.
There are some recipes that don’t seem to work out so well, no matter how closely I follow them. It could be due to a number of factors: my oven settings, UK measuring cups, the ingredients here varying slightly and the fact that I just don’t have mom’s touch in the baking department. But I’m getting there, slowly but surely.
The chocolate snowballs seemed to have worked much better this year and I’ve gotten much better at the oatmeal chocolate chip cookies (a definite favourite of Connor’s). Luckily the cherry balls (a top choice of both Alex and Andy’s) have always come out well. I tried the peanut butter squares this year as Alex had asked for them last year, and they are a flop. I will chalk it up to the fact that the local peanut butter just doesn’t hold up to Kraft (which I ran out of last year). So end of story on that count.
So you can probably gather that even though Mom doesn’t live near our boys, they still know what a great baker their ‘Nana Gina’ is. It’s a legacy I hope to carry on... especially now that I'm going to be a granny myself. (Ack! - I'm still getting used to that one.
This year, I ordered some Christmas cookie cutters from Amazon and looked forward to trying out mom’s Christmas Cookies (I always loved how she used to decorate them in such festive icing). I’m always slightly confused when a recipe calls for shortening as the alternative here is lard and that is just nasty. So I usually just substitute for butter, this time I didn’t.
It started out fairly well:
But then the dough was super sticky and I couldn’t get it to roll. All three kids happened to turn up as I was trying to work out what to do (besides adding more flour) and we decided to start from the beginning and use butter, not lard (that word is just plain disgusting). I’m pleased they were happy to join in as I didn’t feel like measuring and sifting five cups of flour etc. etc. So I poured Tasha and myself a glass of wine and we got to work.
(Tasha really pitched in - a fantastic assistant)
We hit the same roadblock as the first time and I made a quick call to mom to ask her if she experienced the same issue. She confirmed that she did, so as Tasha and I both thought, we had to add a lot of extra flour. Connor made a comment that made me chuckle ‘Most people check a recipe when they are baking. Not Jods, she rings Gina’. He’s not all wrong on that count. She is the baking expert and my crowd knows it.
Eventually we reached a texture that enabled the cutting out of cookie shapes:
I had a load of fun in the kitchen with the kids this past Sunday as we baked and I really love how they seem to enjoy baking/cooking with me. Connor has already made a list of what he wants to start on this Friday when he comes down. I think we are going to ease quite nicely into the Christmas Season this year.
We didn’t have a chance to decorate our cookies and as they needed to go in the freezer (well those that were left after Connor and Andy finished eating their share) I had to get them iced on Monday night.
This is the end result:
Sorry, but I do impress myself sometimes.