Friday, December 21, 2007

Quandaries of a Privileged White Girl

So, the holidays are upon us. While I should be spending all my time looking for a job (okay, okay - I've started!), I am equally sentimental, hidebound and and premenstrual enough that I've decided to dedicate a few hours to making cookies.

Like many families, mine has a tradition of making Christmas cookies. My mother used to make dozens of dozens, filling large boxes full to send to people as presents (particularly the kids when we went off to school) and keeping plenty on hand to snack on for months. Sometimes there would still be some stored in the freezer by the time the next Christmas rolled around.

For a few years, I followed her example and would wind myself up into a tizzy of cookie making. However, eventually, she and I both realized that, while cookie making is fun in the short term, once you get past a couple hundred dollars' worth of ingredients and a half-day's worth of cooking, it gets overrated real fast. Neither one of wanted to have stress-related breakdowns over whether we'd get all the damn cookies done, or who burned what, or how to get them shipped in time, anymore. And so, every year we try valiantly to resist making too many cookies. Yet, every year, the urge to bake returns.

So, what to do? I want to make a few cookies - enough to make us feel cozy, indulgent and satisfied as we loll around over our break, despite not exchanging presents due to a tight budget. But which to make? When you have multiple kinds of cookies enshrined as family traditions, how can you choose just a few?

It's puzzling enough that Mrs. Nator and I are setting aside a particular time to talk about it. I happen to know that Ma Nator is making gingerbread and chocolate chip, and Sis and Bro-in-law Nator usually make pinwheels and ranger cookies, so those are out. For me, I think I'm going to set the rule that I am not going to make any cookies just because they're someone else's favourite. If the Mrs. & I can do without 'em, they're off the list. Also, we don't need multiples of particular flavours. One kind of chocolate item, like brownies, will do, as will one fruity item and one buttery item. And for heaven's sake, no kinds that have to sit around for several days, or be chilled overnight, or what-have-you, just to get done. Let's keep it simple, people. This is supposed to be fun and fulfilling, not a chore.

So, my short list this far? Brownies, macaroons and jewel brooches (a buttery cookie with jam in the middle). And possibly those white trash concoctions made of Saltines, butter, sugar and chocolate chips that my ex-roommate introduced to us. That's it.

Now watch me break these rules just because we "must" bring those pecan sandies and/or lemon cookies to Mrs. Nator's family in Atlanta, or everyone will cry and think we don't love them.

What are your holiday cookie musts?

7 comments:

oneofhismoms said...

Hey! Those so-called "white trash" cookies won me a baking contest at my old job, if you recall. Yeah. I won a pair of cow oven mitts. They're classy, I tell you. Classy.

Hurumph. See if I share any more recipes with the likes of you.

Love, your ex roommate

Da Nator said...

Darling, you called them white trash yourself the first time you made them for me. Besides, that's what makes them extra delicious!

claire said...

my (italian) family has two traditional (read: mandatory)recipes that are made every year. one is this doughy deep fried things that get covered in powdered sugar. they have a hard to spell italian name that i cannot attempt to spell, but they're usually called Birdnests or the popular and un-PC name, Turk's Heads. I don't know why.
The other is called Cucidati, a fig-filled dough that is cut up like a flattened jelly roll and covered in honey and almond slices. Neither my mother or i like these, but it's sac-religious not to make them. Most of the boys like them i think.

Heather said...

This year, to hand out to her various teachers and therapists at preschool (our total number of goodie tins was ten....!), the kiddo and I made peppermint bark and chocolate-covered pretzels. Yes, neither of those are actual *cookies* nor do they require actual baking, but they're pretty easy for a 4.5 year old to make. (Okay, I melted the chocolate for her, but seriously, she did most of the rest of it - at least 'til she decided dipping and fishing the mini-pretzels out of the melted chocolate was boring and left me with 3/4 of a lb of pretzels yet to be done, telling me to call her when it was time to lick the bowl...)

Between the various relatives, at Christmas we usually have:
- divinity (mmmmm pure sugar)
- peanut brittle (I have an AWESOME recipe for microwave peanut brittle... so easy!)
- white trash bars (yep, that's what we call 'em too)
- mint Hershey kiss drop cookies
- various cut-out, frosted/decorated sugar cookies*
- choco-covered pretzels
- peppermint bark
- rum balls (*hic*)
- these oatmeal bar-cookies with chocolate and walnuts on top
- mint meringue cookies
- fudge

Damn, I think I just gained five pounds typing that list out... That doesn't even touch the rest of the baking, like all the pies and breads................ *urp*

(* I have a sugar cookie recipe from a friend that has been dubbed "crack cookies" because they are SO addictive. You can't stop devouring them! Let me know if you'd like it for this year or the future......)

FirstNations said...

every year we have:
-the worlds best chocolate chip cookies-seriously, this recipe makes the best ccc's you ever etted!
-butter-sugars cut into the shape of stars
-almond biscotti-because its SO GOOD for dunking!
-and this year, we have Alice B. Toklas' famous fudge in both fruit and chocolate!!!

merry christmas, my darling, and give my best to the mrs!
XOOfn

kris_percival said...

Snickerdoodles! I might like the name more than the cookie but have no trouble putting away a good half dozen. I also like chocolate crinkle cookies - the kind you roll in confectioner's sugar then bake and the tops crack and are all gooey and chocolaty and sugary besides.

BigAssBelle said...

oh the kitty!!! how cute :-)

must: fudge, toffee, peanut brittle (the foamy kind, not the hard, glistening kind), pig cookies (spice + bacon fat), and my chocolate chips, which are, bar none, the best cookies on the planet.

i had nothing this year except a couple of small pieces of fudge. i'm not sure if life's worth living without fudge.