Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Christmas in July... Almost Forgot

I've noticed a trend. Well, it's nothing new, so not a trend in all technicality. Christmas in July? Shop now and save later (sanity-wise and financially speaking). Of course, department stores and wally-world knock-offs promote Christmas-in-July sales. Bars are having Christmas-in-July nights, featuring winter drinks and beer. I've even seen some bloggers, food and non-food alike posting about their favorite Christmas memories, recipes, etc. all centered around Christmas-in-July. Well... I want in. July is almost over, and I totally didn't take advantage of the Christmas-in-July antics!
Luckily, I have some awesome Christmas memories and a recipe I'd still love to share, right before the month of July passes away and melts into the thick August heat (which is the month of my birthday! Daniel, you better make it good! ;)
This last Christmas was Daniel and my first Christmas together (well, as a married couple) Everybody say "Aw!" I know. We were so lovey-dovey it was sickening. I wanted everything to be perfect. In my own family, growing up, we made Christmas cookies every year and Mom would make powdered sugar frosting and we'd frost until we were sick (sick of sugary frosting, not decorating) She'd set us up at a card-table with newpaper spread out below and put out all the sprinkles and different colored frostings in bowls. Oh, the things we would do with all those frostings. I was always an artistic little kid, I used to draw eyes and buttons and squiggly sleeves for gingerbread men that would make my family Oo and Ah.
That was just practice! Now I had my own home and my own kitchen and my own family to make cookies with!
I used my mother's old stand-by recipe. She had this old Betty Crocker book called the Cooky Book. I used to ask her to "read" it and I'd ogle at the pictures for at least an hour (which is a long time for a 6 year old!)
She gave me the recipe when I moved out, but I was never much of a cook, and, before I got married, she still held the annual cookie-decorating party with the grandkids (my nieces/nephews) that I would do my best not to miss. But this year was different. Without further ado:

Ethel's Sugar Cookies

3/4 cup shortening (part butter)
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon lemon flavoring or 1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/3 cups GOLD MEDAL Flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt


Mix well shortening, sugar, eggs and flavoring. Measure flour by dip-level-pour method or by sifting. Blend flour, baking powder and salt; stir in in portions. Chill at least 1 hour. Heat oven to 400 F. Roll 1/8" thick on floured board. Cut out desired shapes. Place on ungreased baking sheet. Bake 6 to 8 minutes. Makes about 4 dozen.

To frost, combine 1 cup powdered sugar with milk. In a bowl, add 1 teaspoon of milk at a time to sugar and stir constantly. Color as needed when desired consistency is reached. (Be careful here because you don't want soupy frosting, a little milk goes a LONG way) I also wanted brown frosting (for my reindeer) and a non-ugly brown is hard to get with the red/yellow/blue colors, so I used some cocoa... who doesn't like chocolate?


Now, being newlyweds, we often run into the "we don't have that" problem... Can you guess what we didn't have? Cookie cutters! The stars are a bit lopsided but I used a small paring knife for details and they worked out just fine! They had a VERY home-made look :) (who said that is a bad thing?) Another thing we don't have is piping bags... so I cut a hole in a zip-top bag and used it to draw the reins on the deer and the snowflakes on the round cookies.
Daniel's son was with us for the holidays this year (He's the one who dubbed me Mimi-see stocking cookie above) We were so excited to have our first family Christmas we went all out with presents for the little one... We spread them out under our inherited fake trees (thanks Mom and Dad!) We didn't even have ornaments! Daniel and I agreed to only do stockings for each other (hence ours are still up on the tree) We didn't have a lot but it was probably the best Christmas of my life so far.

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9 comments:

haleysuzanne said...

I love Christmas - I know exactly how you feel. This year I went nuts making Christmas cookies, and ended up buying all these cutters and making all this icing. It's so much fun! I have a copy of the "Cooky Book," so I'll have to try that recipe. The one I currently use is out of this little "Cookies" pamphlet from the 50s that my Grandmother gave me - priceless!

Corinne said...

Definitely priceless! I'm all for new and exciting foods, but they just don't make cooks books the way they used to anymore!

Michele said...

Hi! I just found a link to your blog on Flour Arrangements. I love your Christmas Story! We used to do a lot of baking at Christmas but that kind of died down a bit as we got older. Hopefully when I get married (someday) I can have a great first Christmas like you!

Kevin said...

Baking for Christmas is one of the best parts. I can't believe that I still haven't tried making sugar cookies.

nancysrecipes said...

Cookies at Christmas is one of our rituals, too. Thanks for the memories!

Lore said...

Those reindeers are adorable! I do know what you mean by running into "we don't have that" problem..my kitchen is still waiting for a vegetable peeler haha :)

hot garlic said...

Your cookies turned out cute, even without cutters and piping bags! This so sounds like the kind of Christmas in July that I would be having!

Last time I made sugar cookies, I realized I didn't have any food coloring. I love white, but not for frosting. Especially because with the boat-loads of vanillas and extracts that I put in mine it turns tan. Anyway, I crushed up a few raspberries and blackberries and the frosting was GORGEOUS! 3 cheers for improvising!

haleysuzanne said...

Small prezzie for you on my most recent post - stop by! :-)

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to thank you for posting this recipe. I first made this recipe for a bake sale with my grandmother in 6th grade. When I left home as a teenager this is one of the few recipies I took with me. I cannot tell you how many batches of cookies I have made from this same recipe, many. I recently made a triple batch of cookies with my step daughter and the recipe was somehow lost after. My family calls me a stress baker! Anyway I am now 39 and this recipe is still one of my all time favorites. I love that little twist of lemon flavor. Thanks again for the posting and the replacement of the treasured Ethels recipe! David.