Friday, December 23, 2016


Aunt helped me out by dressing a fat young rooster and bringing it ready for the roaster. She also insisted on making pies since I had my hands full – mince and pumpkin. One of each would be plenty, I said, but no – here came two each and ginger cookies frosted. She’d tried a new recipe.
Ina Dobson, Christmas 1933

I walked in on the folks at 10:00 p.m. They were very surprised and pleased and I was glad to find everyone up. In fact Ruth was still baking and the kitchen was full of cookies, cake, and pies.
Vance, on arriving at his cousin’s house, Christmas 1942

I am not one to spend a lot of time in the kitchen baking lovely things. Perhaps I get that from my Grandma Ina. She barely speaks of Christmas baking, but baking for Christmas was a big deal with my mother. She loved candied fruit – yes, the cherries, the pineapple, and even the citron. Before Thanksgiving she would make her fruitcake – just enough batter to hold the fruit together. And she loved traditional cookies – shortbread and pressed spritz cookies, individually and meticulously decorated with candied red and green cherries. She stored these cookies in a roaster on our enclosed back porch where it was cool and included them on holiday trays prepared for neighbors and friends, served them on our dessert table during the holidays, and then enjoyed the leftovers (she made many cookies!) for a month or six weeks after Christmas. (I kid you not.) She thought her fruitcake and cookies were beautiful – and of course they were. I always thought, though, that they were labor-intensive and rich but rather flavorless.
I don’t make those traditional goodies, but I admit that I miss their presence during the holidays. I prefer to make cut-out cookies – sugar and gingerbread. When I was young, Mother also made cut-out cookies -- uniformly rolled and baked and again meticulously decorated. You should see mine – too thick, too thin, overbaked, underbaked, perhaps a bit tough, and when it comes to decorating, I use mostly white frosting, sprinkle them with colored sugar, and add some red hots. But I like them, they taste good, and my technique leaves time for other things. KW


Becky said...

And I always remember the divinity. Grandma always had trays of beautiful treats at Christmas. As a child I was always in awe.

Kathy said...

Oh yes! How could I forget the divinity? Mother loved to make divinity. In her latter days of divinity making, Hallie and I helped her, and we became very good at it if I do say so myself. We continued to make it post-Mother, but one year Hallie said, "You know, this stuff is just flavored sugar and corn syrup in a little egg white." I knew it was over -- and it was. Divinity is a little tricky, though, and I was proud of us for learning the secrets.

In the '50s, Mother used to make several varieties of divinity -- with nuts, with maraschino cherries, and seafoam (brown sugar) divinity. Seafoam is my favorite.

Mother didn't mind working late at night and often it was late when we were making divinity.

Becky said...

Yes, I remember the seafoam also. It was different and just melted in your mouth and didn't really seem worth even eating but I liked it. I think I liked it better than divinity.