Even though I'm not a skilled baker, I really enjoy it. My mother bakes a lot and has since I was a child. I don't know why her baking genes didn't get passed down to me, but as I get older, I sure wish they had. She has cookbooks older than me with grease-stained pages and dog-eared corners, reminding us of our favorite recipes. How many of my childhood memories are connected to those yellowed and torn pages! Each time I see oatmeal cookies it reminds me of sneaking the dough from the freezer before my mom had time to bake it. Or how no one knows who Tommy's Mommy is, but our favorite cookie recipe is called “Tommy's Mommy's Chocolate Chip Cookies.”
This weekend we celebrated our second annual cookie party at my mom's house. It's a new tradition I have started to continue her cookie-baking legacy. On Sunday, the women in my family gathered at Mom's house for a full day of baking, laughing and mimosa-drinking. This newly-founded custom includes each of us picking our favorite cookie recipe, bringing the ingredients and sharing the bounty. This year we chose to make Gingerbread, Double Chocolate Mint, Peanut Butter Kisses and Sugar Cookies. Though we are new at this, we learned to make the sugar and gingerbread doughs ahead of time to avoid sitting on the couch for hours waiting for the dough to chill. On the day of, we only had to make the Kisses and Chocolate Mint cookies, and then roll out, bake and decorate the others.
The PB Kisses were my contribution to the party, and wouldn't you know, they were also the only ones to fall apart after baking. This was probably my fault and avoidable. I didn't want the peanut butter to stick to the measuring cup, so I eyeballed it. It also didn't help that the only measuring spoons were heart-shaped, making exact measurements pretty impossible. Note to self for next year; invest in a baking scale and some quality baking sheets (the bottom of my cookies burned). In the end, they tasted okay but weren't very pretty. I was better at decorating the gingerbread men and sugar cookies so that is how I spent the rest of the day.
After last year's abnormally-shaped angels and reindeer, we learned to use plastic wrap between the rolling pin and dough when rolling the cookies. We made an icing from powdered sugar and milk, added food coloring, and used small sandwich bags in place of piping bags. We cut a small hole in the corner of the bag and filled it with the icing. This was my favorite part thanks to the lack of rules. You can decorate cookies however you want and it is pretty hard to mess up. Plus, when you do, you just eat the cookie and no one is the wiser.
I look forward to this new holiday tradition enduring for years to come. At the end of our baking extravaganza, the memories we made weren't about the peanut butter cookies falling apart or the lack of baking sheets – they were about the handing down of family skills and recipes and about creating joy with the people I love.