Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas Nostalgia

When I was a little girl, I made sugar cookies with my mother and decorated them. By the time I was six years old I was making them, and other cookies, on my own. I was quite the baker. Here is a picture of me at Christmas when I was three cooking in my new play kitchen in 1972: 

When I became older, (early twenties) I made cookies with my niece, Madison. The first time we made sugar cookies was for a Christmas tea she was having when she was two years old. It became an annual tradition until she became a teenager and moved on to teenager things. This is Madison at two years old:  

Over time I gained three more nieces and made cookies with them. First came Becca and we made cookies when she was about three years old as shown in this picture:  

Then came Katie and later, her younger sister, Emma: 

They are now all grown up, with the youngest, Emma, almost 17. So, now making cookies is something I do on my own again but, it is something I must do for the season to feel like Christmas. I still use the same recipe I used with my mother when I was a little girl. That recipe is now submitted in my church's cookbook:

I still add all the ingredients and beat them with the mixer. Add the flour by hand first and then mix ever so slightly with the mixer. I even sift the pre-sifted flour. Then chill the dough for a few hours before rolling it out. The idea of using commercial "pre-made" dough is heresy in my house.

This year I've used two rolling pins. The large one to roll out the dough initially and the small one to imprint some of the dough with snowflakes. The smaller pin I bought on Etsy from a shop in Poland.

These are the same cookie cutters I used when I was a child and used with each of my nieces. Some of them got lost through the years but, I was able to replace them with cutters of the same vintage I found on Etsy over the last couple of years.

I love these cookie cutters because they cut out cookies with details. As you can see with the Christmas tree cookie there are shapes on the tree for ornaments and garland. On the Christmas package there is "Merry Christmas" written on it and a bow. These details are fun to decorate after the cookies are baked.

This year I am doing something new with respect to decorating the cookies. I am not using commercial food coloring to dye the frosting. I am using "natural" coloring to dye the frosting. I am doing this because I have noticed that red food coloring bothers my head and makes my migraines worse. So I found natural coloring by ColorKitchen which is also non-GMO, gluten free, and vegan.

First I mix the white frosting in the mixer. Yes, I sift the confectioner's sugar.

The blue dye is made from Spirulina, a blue-green algae. The red dye is made from beets. The yellow dye is made from the spice turmeric. I had to mix colors to create the purple frosting and the green frosting. It took two packages of the beet red along with a couple of pinches of yellow to make the red frosting; otherwise, it is more of a pink or raspberry color.

I ended up not using the blue frosting at all. This frosting was very thick. I had to keep thinning it by adding more milk. It does have a nice glossy appearance. I think these natural colorings are worth trying again next year with some tweaking of the frosting recipe.

My nieces may now be too old to think it's cool to make cookies with a middle-aged aunt, but they, and their brothers are not above eating them. I'm sure they will be scarfed-up on Friday when they are all at our house for Christmas! Here is a picture of them from last Christmas:

Left to Right: Becca, Will, Katie, Emma, Davis, & Madison

They are precious each and every one. Enjoy your Christmas with your family & friends.

Val Swanson
Designed by Val


Gemstones on My Mind said...

Val, I love this post. It's an amazing tradition that you've kept up and I'm sure your nieces and nephews will be keeping it up, once they get a little age on them. They would be crazy not to, and we know they are not, right? You have a grand bunch of "kids" in your family, and they have one amazing Aunt Val! Merry Christmas! Your cookies look yummy and those natural food colorings are so authentic looking. You inspire me to start such a tradition.

Unknown said...

What a perfect offering for Christmas!
Thank you for sharing your tradition!!

Unknown said...

So cute!!!

capitalcitycrafts said...

How wonderful to carry on this tradition!

Jennifer said...

So sweet in every way!

jemsbyjb said...

Val loved reading about your holiday cooking tradition. I remember having those same red cookie cutters as a kid, only not as many! I can almost feel the laughter and love going into those cookies. Thanks for sharing with us!

Beadsme said...

Beautiful Val.

Miss the youngsters at this time of year. All grown up and doing their own thing.

LoveStoneArts said...

Merry Christmas! Thanks for sharing your family and cookie tradition with us. Those colors are wonderful!

SendingLoveGallery said...

What a sweet post and a nice tradition, Val - a beautiful family, too! Thanks also for the tip about the natural dye coloring for frosting :)

Brooke said...

I bet your nieces will be passing down this special tradition. I'm going to have to try the natural food dyes, love that idea.