Like everyone else, I am busy preparing for the Christmas holiday. Today, I baked up a storm...or rather, dipped up a storm in some cases.
I made roll-cutout cookies. These are the best. They are so soft and have a yummy almond taste. It is the same recipe that my mom has made for years, and I swear, they are the best cutout cookie.
I dipped some pretzels. I know you can now buy white dipped pretzels anytime of the year at the grocery store, but that takes away the special-ness of the this treat.
I made some buckeye balls. I have no idea why they have been given this name, but they are so rich and creamy. Delicious. This was a new recipe for me and it turned out. It will go into my holiday repetoire.
I made some maple fudge and some toffee, yet the toffee did not turn out. Toffee is tough because you have to boil it to a certain temperature. Obviously, I did not boil it hot enough. I even used a candy thermometer.
Finally, I made peanut brittle. This was a sentimental thing. My grandmother who passed away last month made a great peanut brittle. She was also an avid letter writer and in her last letter she mailed me her recipe. I thought that was very special and I'll always keep her handwritten recipe. She use to say that her secret was that she shelled the peanuts herself rather than buy them already shelled. If her peanut brittle did not turn out, she was known to say, "Well, must have been a bad batch of peanuts." Funny. Mine turned out so the peanuts must have been okay. I plan on giving it away as gifts just like Grandma used to do. I know realize the hard work she put into each batch of peanut brittle because for one recipe, it only filled one pan and she gave peanut brittle to everyone at Christmas. She must have had to make a lot.
There is something special about Christmas baking. I have the strongest memories of my mother and her two sisters spending an entire Saturday at our house doing the Christmas baking. Mom always rolled and cut the cookies. Sandra always baked, watched, and took out the cookies, and Joy always sprinkled the cookies. My mom would make homemade peanut butter cups, peanut butter blossoms, and melting moment cookies, which are like shortbread. Sandra always made fudge at Christmas. I think I learned a lot just by observing during the annual bake-a-thons. I can use a rolling pin pretty well and I think it comes from years of watching my mom yield one.
I think baking is a family traditon that will remain strong in my generation. Baking connects me to my family and to the past. The idea that I use my grandmother's recipe and who knows, maybe it was her grandmother's recipe is endearing to me. Maybe someday, I'll teach someone else how to bake like I have been taught by the women in my family.