Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Christmas cookies start..... NOW!

Hi everybody! The Fresh Pioneer is back and I thought I'd try a different kind of cookie. I heard from a friend that 'horn cookies' were delicious. Okay, I'm game! And Edna's been languishing in the corner so it was perfect timing to start our sampling of Christmas cookies. (No, it's not too early! We're RESEARCHING.)
 Almonds. Fresh, unsalted, raw. YUMMY. Try not to eat them by the handful. For the recipe it calls for:
1/2 lb almonds
3/4 unsalted butter
3/4 powdered sugar
3 cups flour
1 tsp vanilla

(Again, the pictures show a lot more because... well.... six kids... and me and hungry hubby and neighbors and friends and people dropping by and... You get the idea.)
 Tiny nut grinder is hardly equipped for the job but we're going to do it in batches.
 Nut grinder is very loud! Poor kid. I see two things when I look at this picture.
One: we've been very sick and my poor four year old looks exhausted, pale, and has bags under his eyes.
Two: I should not be allowed to cut my children's hair.
 Almonds are ground and sitting prettily in their bowl...
 Putting in the butter. Edna is SOOOOOOO excited! (Again, the haircut.)
 OK, so, this was a bit of a job for her. In fact, it seems like a lot of things have gotten harder and harder for dear Edna. But she powers on...
And starts to smoke.
But she's still going, burning hot, when I turn the knob.

"But... we're not... DONE!" she wheezes.

"I know, Edna, but let's take a break." I get a cool cloth and lay it over her drive shaft. She was burning hot. And not in a good way.

I waved hubby over and gave him 'the look'. You know, the one that says, "Help me keep Edna from feeling like she's failing!"

 And being his intuitive self, he grabbed her bowl and started mixing by hand. By hand meaning WITH HIS HANDS. Edna was very quiet from her place over in the corner... Maybe she was resting. Maybe she was pouting. I was afraid to look.
 This is my child who hates his picture taken. That is all. I pretended I was taking a picture of the wall. Apparently, that made sense to his 3 year old self and he calmly waited while I snapped a photo of the blank wall behind him.
*sigh* Someone needs to hide the scissors when I saw I'm going to give everybody a haircut.
 Once we'd added all the ingredients, we were supposed to roll the dough into balls, then shape it like small crescents. Here is one child's version. I started to say, 'good job', thinking he really had tried and I was a supportive mom and all that.... but he pointed at it and said, "I made POOP!" *eye roll*
 Here is a batch of cookies before they head into the oven. I peeked over at Edna and she was still quiet, perhaps napping under her cool cloth. Her base was spattered with butter and sugar and nut dust. I had a sinking feeling that this wasn't going to end well.
The first batch came out! So delicious! But.... I swear they tasted just like the Mexican Wedding Cookies I made last year. Huh. I looked into the horn cookies and I guess they're also called Hungarian Horn Cookies and Italian Wedding Cookies! Same circus, different clowns. Still tasty.

Anyway, I came back to wipe down dear Edna and she whirred her beaters, as if to get my attention. I could feel tears welling in my eyes. I knew what she was going to say.

"I think it's time for me to retire," she said.

"No! You have lots of life left in you! It was one bad day, and those cookies were really too dry and the recipe called for way too many nuts and I always double the recipe when I shouldn't... Please, Edna, I need you. I'll have to go back to buying store bought cookies without your help. " I couldn't think of anything more to say and sniffed loudly into the silence.

"I'm not leaving. I'll stay right over there in the corner and live the good life of frostings and meringues." Her voice wasn't unkind. And she didn't seem sad.

OH! I wiped my eyes. "So... we should be shopping for another mixer?"

"Absolutely. But promise me one thing."

"Anything!" I was so happy. It was the best case scenario. Edna was staying and we would add to our little kitchen family with a heavy duty mixer that could handle all sorts of menial jobs.

"Let me choose, okay?" Her chrome twinkled in the sunlight.

And I was happy to agree. So, maybe by next week there will be another friend to introduce. Will it be
something like this?
Or this?
Or, since we have so many kids, should we go this route?
And then a friend sent me this picture from a shop near her house.

"Oooooh," Edna said. "Is that a retirement community?"

So, we'll see what she chooses and I'm excited to be baking with BOTH of them in the Christmas season! Until next time!

SEASON OF HOPE is now available!! Check it out here...


  1. Sniff. Whaa. I love Edna. She is so generous and giving to the very end.

    (whispers) but I am so excited to see what kind of mixer you get!

    Love these cookies. I bet I can bake these with almond flour.

    So glad you guys are on the mend and another book is out!

    Peace, Julie

    1. We picked it out last night!!

      I'm so nervous. Will we like each other? Will it be a boy or a girl? (OKay, that doesn't matter, but still....) It's like having a baby!

    2. Yep, a new member of the family! :)

  2. Noooooooo!!!!!!!! I LOVE Edna...maybe she just has the blender flu? Though I suppose it would be nice if she had a bosom buddy/kindred spirit type friend to help with the load...but I'd steer clear of the blender in the third picture. She looks positively mean. I don't think she'd be nice to Edna and it's all about keeping Edna happy, right?! Oh -- and you do know that you can buy almonds already ground, right? I'm sure Edna wouldn't have been offended.

    And guess what I read over the weekend?????? :-) I love your Christmas stories, Virginia!!!!!! Awesome read!!!!!!!!!

    1. Oh, thanks so much, Kav! II'm glad you liked it!

      And I think you can buy almonds already ground, but not around here. I'd probably have to order them. We're very rural!!

  3. Oh Edna!!! We hardly knew ye!!!! Still, she deserves a nice retirement with a place in the community if possible. Or she can mentor the newcomer. Either way Edna, your retirement is well deserved...even if we are saddened.....*sniff*

    1. She'll be in her corner, giving advice through the whirling cloud of powdered sugar!

  4. My mom used to make cookies that looked like those.... I wonder if her recipe is still around? If not, I'll use yours and remember hers :)

    It sounds like you have a good retirement plan for Edna - meringues and frostings are important! And if you have a second mixer, you don't have to stop everything and do a dishwashing session when you're making cake!

    But whatever you end up choosing, you need someone powerful. None of this piddly 300 watt business. You need something big enough and powerful enough to do those double batches of cookies!

    Shop wisely, and you'll love that new mixer for years to come...

    ...but I agree with everyone else. That third picture? The institutional monster? He reminds me of something from a horror movie.

    1. HAHA! And those are about $15K used! I know this from... book research! Oh, the glamorous life of a writer.

      I'd love an industrial kitchen, including industrial dishwasher. Okay, any dishwasher.
      And if I had an industrial kitchen, I'd probably have a chef, so... never mind.
      I ordered the mixer! I've been looking for about 3 months. I hate buying appliances.

      We shall see...

    2. Which one?! Or do we have to wait to find out in your next blog post? :)

    3. I'm not telling. :) It's a secret to be revealed... as soon as he/she arrives.

  5. A black Kitchen Aide. My dream. Christmas? I seriously cannot get in the mood for that word yet. But cookies, yum! Always in the mood. Thank you.

    1. I can't either, Tina. I love Thanksgiving too much to shortchange it! :)

    2. BLACK?? Did you know there are three kinds of black KAs? Shiny, matte, pebble, and maybe another one. They have great names like 'caviar' or something.
      I know, I'm not doing Christmas yet, but if I'm going to bake at all, I better get some kind of appliance now!

  6. Oh, how fun! I love how you naturally went into writing dialogue. Once a storyteller, always a storyteller! Even when talking food and mixers. :) :)

    I'm so glad Edna will stay on the job part-time! But I do think maybe it's time for you to hang up your part-time job as a hair cutter. ;)

    Love the kid pics!! Beautiful children! Even with eyes closed (look at those gorgeous eyelashes!)

    1. LOL!

      I know. It always looks fine on the day and then... somehow... a few days later it gets WEIRD.

      My husband tells me (in Spanish) "looks like a donkey cut it with his teeth".

    2. OMGosh!!! Dying laughing! I'd love to meet your husband someday. :)

      You know, I had to give up my hair cutting days too because my kids got old enough to realize I did a bad job. After I shaved off my son's sideburn when he wiggled, they took the clippers away from me!! :) He won't even trust me to trim his neck now. :)

    3. I can't stand the clippers! Scary! I just use scissors. Very old school. I should put a bowl on their heads and I'd be all set!

  7. Edna is such a trooper. But it takes a big person to admit when they've reached their limit. Good for her. I can't wait to see who she chooses to join her. Will it be someone only slightly younger that she can reminisce with about the good old days? Or will it be a young thing who's still trying to learn her way around cake batter? Or maybe a strapping young lad with lots of power. Who ever Edna chooses, I know they will love her and learn so much from her amazing stories.

    As for the cookies, I have a similar recipe called Russian Teacakes. They're shaped into balls. Every country must have the same recipe, changed the shape or the type of nut then slapped their nation's name on the title. But who really cares when they taste this delicious.

    Question, though. Why do the baked cookies look pink? Is it just the lighting?

    1. Oh, and mega congrats on the new release!

    2. I think it might be the almond skin? You know, since we're discussing recipes, I have to say Russian teacakes are SO MUCH BETTER. Less flour, and I like the walnuts instead of the almonds. Usually I have to hide the teacakes, but these are.... mostly still here. A day later.
      And thanks!

    3. Walnuts, you say? Interesting. My recipe calls for pecans. Which is perfect since I always have pecans on hand. My new SIL is allergic to almonds, so I need to watch what I make for him. I love to make spritz and usually put almond extract in that. I'll either have to switch to vanilla or get some imitation almond extract, though something about that just seems wrong.

    4. I've made it with walnuts and pecans. Those are just softer and almonds are... not my favorite. I've never really liked almond flavoring, but my sister LOVES that almond cake I made last year. Hmmmm.... Which reminds me to look for the canned almond mix because it's only available seasonally here!