Baking cookies a Christmas holiday tradition

Published 11:45 am Monday, December 23, 2013

Ready or not, Christmas is coming — three more days! Your original list should have a line of check marks as each item has been prepared and everything is finished. 

If you are wondering, I did finish my shopping and gift-wrapping, finally got my tree decorated and all that’s left is cooking Christmas dinner.

Christmas shopping was exhausting, particularly when one tries to do it all in one day! When I say all that’s left is to cook Christmas dinner I have literally said a mouthful!

As I get older it all becomes more than a little overwhelming. I used to insist on cooking everything, but now I am thankful my girls want to help me prepare holiday dinners. They are all good cooks.

I made some cookies this past week as a trial run before the holidays. It was a new recipe, and they were delicious. The recipe was Almond Joy Cookies, but instead of using almonds I used good southern pecans. So I suppose I will have to call my recipe Pecan Joy Cookies! I’ll share it with you at the end of the column. Even if you don’t get them made before Christmas, they are good any time.

While I had the food processor out to chop the pecans for the cookies, I thought about the Christmas Daddy bought it for Mother. Bless her heart she cut up everything by hand to complete her Christmas dinner and then when we opened gifts later in the day, hers was the food processor from Daddy! Being Mama, she took it good naturedly, although it certainly would have come in very handy a little earlier!

Not long after Mama died, my food processor gave out and I became the second owner of hers. It has been a good one — must be at least 20 years old. Every time I use it I think about her and particularly at Christmas, when she used it so much. Every cook knows how essential a food processor can be when preparing holiday recipes calling for numerous chopped items. I even use it to break up my cornbread for preparing the turkey dressing.

When I eventually got around to decorating our Christmas tree, I decided to use our late daughter Robin’s decorations instead of mine. Over the years she had made so many pretty ornaments, including some of her lovely counted cross-stitch. She used to trim our tree for us, knowing I wasn’t crazy about doing it. So our tree turns out to be pretty special this year using Robin’s things, bringing her close even though she isn’t physically with us anymore.

While shopping, gift giving, Christmas trees, decorations and festive family gatherings are nice traditions, let’s not forget to celebrate the very essence of Christmas, which is the birth of our Savior. Think what the world would be like if He had not come — with no hope beyond this life. Take time to read the Christmas story from the gospels to the children so they will carry the tradition through the generations. May the Joy of the season spill over into all your celebrations.

A very Merry Christmas to all of you from Rob and me and our family!

Almond Joy Cookies

1 cup butter

1 1/2 cups white sugar

1 1/2 cups brown sugar

4 eggs

3 tsp. vanilla

4 1/2 cups flour

2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

5 cups chocolate chips

2 cups sweetened coconut

2 cups chopped almonds

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

Lightly grease cookie sheets. Combine dry ingredients and set aside. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugars together with mixer. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Stir in the vanilla. Stir in the dry ingredients until well mixed. Stir in the chocolate chips, coconut and almonds (at this point the mixture will be so thick you will have to use your hands.)

Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto the prepared cookie sheets. Press down just a little, as they will not spread very much while baking. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Makes about 78 or so cookies.

Retired Lifestyle Editor Bob Ann Breland writes a weekly column and may be contacted at bobann_b@ yahoo. com.