Friday, December 7, 2012


Today I am joining a dear friend, Leanne, in a virtual cookie exchange. And it's not about sharing recipes that will make us all a little more plump on January first, but about sharing the tradition behind it. And, can I tell you, here is where I get stuck. 

I don't know if it's universal, but I can say that I have always longed for traditions, that feeling of generations hemming me in. And although we had some, it never felt enough.

I remember one childhood Thanksgiving I wanted it to be special. I used a sheet from the upstairs linen closet as a table cloth, set the table with the "good"dishes, and ran around like a manic ten year old begging everyone to dress in their Sunday best. I came to the table in some ridiculously out of fashion, second-hand, floor length, red and white gingham and lace number that was hiding in the back of the closet.

Everyone was eating in the living room.

Don't get me wrong, I have AMAZING memories of my childhood. But those things that I could count on, year after year? Those not as much.

We try to build tradition into the very fabric of our lives with the girls. And even at five years old, I can see how my Kathryn craves it. Chocolate chip pancakes on home days. The golden ribbons on the Christmas tree. Hugs after each present opened. Baking bread on gray days. Lighting candles when we get home from school.

All of my grandparents passed away long ago. Adam's mom passed away when we first started dating, so I don't feel like I have access to grand traditions of the past that I can pass onto my girls. 

But despite all that, there are a few things that give me that feeling of connection to generations past that I need. And one of those is my Grandma Betty's cookies. I don't know if this is the exact recipe. Move upon move has lost the original, but it is the closest my mom has been able to piece together, and for that I am so grateful.  Grandma's and Mom's were shaped into crescent shapes, mine have become balls (it's just easier with the girls), but each time I make them I think of her,of them, and imagine holidays with extended families round a table, laughing, sharing, making memories.

This afternoon, as I baked a batch, I thought of myself, 25 years ago, baking these with my mom on a snowy day in our house in Minnesota. And then I thought about 25 years before that, how my mom undoubtedly made them with her mother, most likely on a snowy day, just miles from where I now live. And as I rolled the sweet dough between my hands, I looked at my girls, and all felt right in the world.

So put on some Christmas music (O Holy Night is required, in case there was any question) and brew a fresh pot of coffee (or a pot of tea) because these cookies should be eaten slowly with a warm beverage of choice.And remember, there is no egg in the recipe, so raw cookie dough is recommended.

Grandma Betty's Pecan Cookies
1 cup butter - softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla (or 1/2 tsp vanilla and 1/2 tsp almond extract)
2 1/2 cups flour sifted
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup chopped pecans
Additional powdered sugar to roll in

Cream butter, powdered sugar and vanilla
Add remaining ingredients
Add a tsp of water if dough isn't coming together
Roll into 1 inch balls or crescents
Bake at 350 degree oven on ungreased cookie sheet until set but not brown (just starting to turn golden) about 10-12 minutes
While warm, roll into powdered sugar
When cool, roll again....yum!

If you can be somewhat reserved by keeping them equal size and not eating the dough, you will be able to make 3 dozen. That did not happen here, and I have no problems with that at all.


1 comment:

  1. Them are the "snowball" cookies we make every year. [a tradition] That we will be making next week!

    Again, a wonderful subject for a well written post.