Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Cookies

Each year I bake Christmas cookies. It is a tradition I picked up from my Great Aunt Donna many, many years ago. I remember her baking for days and freezing tons of delicious cookies. Her "buckeyes" stand out strongly in my memory! I was pleasantly surprised to see that my new friend Teresa has the recipe and is willing to share.

I love baking and I love creating festive colorful trays of goodies to share. This year it was somewhat more challenging to create colorful cookies due to the lack of food coloring on the local market. I looked everywhere and I confirmed with my friend Bridget, ace cake baker to the Embassy community, that there is none available here in Skopje. Bridget generously offered to share some of hers, but she has already helped me with so much in the last month(Crisco for my pie crust, celery for my stuffing), that I declined her offer. I am clever enough to find another way to make my cookies look nice, right? I had ordered some food coloring gels from NetGrocer, anticipating the need, but they sent me decorating gels instead. Well, the lack of food colors and fancy green and red sprinkles, not to mention the pecans for my tassies, led to some experimental recipes this year. All with delicious results!

I spent two days baking, with Hani keeping an eye on Collier it was much easier. I created chocolate chip (aka the famous American specialty according to the GSO staff guys), peanut butter chocolate chip, peanut butter dipped in chocolate, thumbprints with frosting, chocolate mint blossoms, chocolate almond tassies, and stained glass cookies. Hershey's kisses, local jelly candy, and some hard tack candy helped add color to the plates. I also baked several batches of flour/salt dough ornaments for the kids to decorate at school and at the Embassy Holiday party. Arianna designed holiday greeting tags for each tray. I was absolutely tethered to my kitchen and exhausted at the end of it all. But in the end, seven beautifully presented trays of cookies delighted the QSI teachers, the Marines, the staff at my husband's office,the girls' school bus driver, and Hani's family. It was well worth the effort and I am always proud to share my talents with the people who help make our lives a little richer. Thank you Aunt Donna for inspiring me!

Ironically, after community time at QSI, within a half an hour of delivering the goodies to the school and Embassy, I checked the mail room at the Embassy and found that my food coloring had arrived! Next year I'll be ready!

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