Saturday, December 10, 2011

Give the Gift of Cookies

Cookies are everywhere for Christmas. The smell of cinnamon and clove in the kitchen is as much a part of the holidays as jingling bells. Reminiscing about my favorite cookies made me realize what the best thing about them is: in a cookie we crave tradition; we look forward to the predictability of an old family recipe that comes out of the oven with a buttery, sweet predictability year after year. It’s never boring—just delightful.

This is the way I feel about my grandmother’s Great Big Ginger Cookies, which I commence to make just as soon as my tree is trimmed and the holiday lights go up. From Black Friday to New Year’s Eve, I remember my grandmother turning out batch after batch of these guys. The best thing about them? They only soften with age! You can store the leftovers in an air-tight container in the fridge, but make sure you enjoy at least a few Big Fat Ginger cookies 1 day after baking.

Since they are so optimal at a day old, I bake them in the morning on Christmas Eve, so they’re perfect for Santa at midnight.

Good as they are, Big Fat Ginger cookies aren’t the only game in town. Perusing the Times, I saw more than a few foodie columns recalling their old family favorites—from Russian tea cakes to coconut macaroons. Recently, I wrote about giving away baked goods as gifts on the Nana blog, having realized that a cookie isn’t just a cookie anymore. In this now decade-old millennium, life is more of a rat race than ever, and baking cookies is a gentle and simple gesture that gets everyone to slow down for a second. If I had to choose between giving a card stuffed with money, or baking a fresh batch of cookies for a loved one, I think the later is a choice that shows I care more. Is that crazy?

The Gift of the Magi was Time…

For many, the giving away of money is either tough or impossible; so they give their time instead, and create something—whether it’s a cookie or a sweater—for somebody they love. You can’t put a price on that. Some might shy away from giving the gift of cookies because they’d have to pack them up and ship them out. Here’s a solution: pre measure the dry items from the cookie recipe into a mason jar and decorate it with a ribbon and adhesive name tag that bears the recipe. You can always add a cookie scoop (I’ve linked to a really nice one) that lets your recipient drop cookies in the same predictable portions onto the cookie sheet. Because predictability and deliciousness go hand-in-hand after all—especially when it’s a batch made with love.

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