Tuesday, 10 September 2013

2012 - It's Not Just About the Cookies

Here it is December 20, and I'm making another batch of Pumpkin Bread! It goes so fast around here — just like the Chex Party Mix. You'd think we were partying all the time but we don't need an excuse. I love to snack on Chex Mix and Charlie takes it for lunch. The Pumpkin Bread is great for breakfast, a snack, or dessert, so it's no wonder that it disappears so quickly (even though I start baking it before Thanksgiving!). Not only do we love it, but Pumpkin Bread or Pumpkin Muffins make the perfect Christmas food gift. I keep festively wrapped loaves in the freezer and in a basket near the door, ready for giving away. However, the idea is to have it all done and dusted (with powdered sugar?) so I'm not baking Christmas week! It's so easy to make though, I don't mind.

Pumpkin Bread loaves at the ready.

I'm finished baking cookies though. I made (pictured below, from top left):  Dutch Spice Cookies, Brownie Thins, Lime-Glazed Cookies, Dunkable Brownies, Vanilla-Bean Butter Cookies, Cinnamon-Swirl Cookies, Nestlé Tollhouse Chocolate Chip Cookies, Grandma's Overnight Cookies, Lemon Poppy-Seed Cookies and Sugar Cookies. Hard to believe that I didn't get to make everything I wanted but there's always next year!

I've enjoyed this year's baking even more than usual because it's gone hand-in-hand with getting Our Cookie Journal online. So, not only have I been baking and keeping track of it all in the Journal as always, I'm putting the Journal online in blog form. It's funny, really: I've been "blogging" about Christmas cookies since 1993, when my sister Lisa gave me the journal to keep track of our baking adventures. I've tried to keep copious notes but it hasn't always worked that way. Sometimes life (or death) took over and there was little to say about cookies. Other times, the baking couldn't start until the Journal was produced, perused and left open for a new year of recording.

Our Cookie Journal is filled with memories.

I always tried to take photos of the cookie trays or us baking, but never to the extent that we do nowadays. In fact, I struggled to find photos to accompany the blog entries for some years. As I went hunting for visual representations, I'd get lost among the albums and boxes of old photos, looking for pictures to go with certain entries. Eventually, I became more organized with my recipes and photos, and the closer we got to the digital age, the more plentiful the choices became.

My sister Lisa and I baked cookies every Christmas.
Some days the photos made me cry; some days the Journal entries led me to call family members to corroborate a memory, or to find a photo of Grandma baking, or double-check a recipe. Often the past years would rush by as I transcribed the entries; and I relived each one, laughing, crying, remembering. And I realized that it's not just Our Cookie Journal, it's "Our Family Journal." The cookies were filled with love for our families and friends, with whom we shared our homemade treats. And even though it started out being about the cookie-baking experiences of my sister and me, it became about the whole family.

Since Christmas 2013 will mark the 20th anniversary of Our Cookie Journal, I'm determined to bake and blog every day in December. I know I will be baking the classic faves: Hedgehog Cookies, Dunkable Brownies and Grandma Baker's Overnight Cookies. And I'll incorporate some new entries that I discovered last Christmas: Cinnamon-Swirl Cookies and Brownie Thins, to name a few. But I'm always looking for new favorites to add to the lineup. That's where you come in: What's your favorite cookie at Christmastime? What cookie holds the most memories for you? Please leave your comments here so I can plan this year's cookie tray. As we get closer to December, I'll be sharing those recipes and your comments in this year's Journal entries, as I bake and highlight 20 different cookies to mark the 20th anniversary of Our Cookie Journal.

I hope you've enjoyed these entries and that I've inspired you to fill your kitchen with cookies and memories for your own family. Thank you for your continued support, kind comments and loyal following.