..........a blog about food, travel, gardening, and living the good life in Arizona.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Christmas Cookies (like Grandma Gehret's)

I know it’s a little late for Christmas cookies, but I didn’t have time in the weeks before Christmas to research recipes that would duplicate Grandma Gehret's basic sugar cookie cut-outs. Sadly, neither I nor my sisters nor cousins appear to have Grandma’s original recipe, but I have it in my taste buds and memories. They were thin, crisp and perfect for dunking into coffee. Ultimately, I found a recipe that most resembles Grandma’s… it’s from Real Simple magazine and goes like this…


• 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
• 1/2 cup granulated sugar
• 1 large egg
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (I used half this amount)
• 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled,
   plus more for the work surface
• decorating sugar (optional)


1.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and granulated sugar on medium-high until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs, then the vanilla and salt.

2.  Reduce mixer speed to low and gradually add the flour, mixing until just combined (do not over mix). Shape into a 1-inch thick disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 3 days.

3.  Heat over to 350 degrees. On a floured surface, roll the dough 1/4 inch thick (or less - my version). Using lightly floured 2- to 3-inch cookie cutters, cut the dough into shapes, flouring the cutters and rerolling the scraps as necessary. Place 1-inch apart on the prepared baking sheets. Sprinkle with decorating sugar, if using.

4.  Bake, rotating the baking sheets halfway through, until the edges just begin to brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool slightly on the baking sheets, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

After testing several recipes, I finally realized that there was no leavening in Grandma’s cookie recipe… no baking soda or powder which makes the cookie thicker (not what I wanted). This one has just the right taste when I reduced the amount of salt to ¼ tsp., rolled them out thinner than ¼” and baked them for 12 minutes.

Perfection. Where's my coffee?

Makes 40 cookies -- Hands-On Time: 20m -- Total Time: 2hr 45m

Friday, December 21, 2012

Winter has officially arrived

Two days ago we had our first real snow this year producing just a few inches but with the help of high winds, some substantial drifting. Luckily our neighbor has a John Deere tractor with a blade that scooped much of it out of the way so we could get the cars out of the garage. The wind has stopped now and the day is crisp and beautiful. Here are a few snow scenes on our property.
After the wind calmed down and the sun came out, the cats ventured outdoors a few times and left these tracks in the snow on the patio. Peaches left the heart shaped one by performing a first-position ballet pose before she decided to go any further. Our cats often step in the same paw prints they made on earlier walks and I wonder how they know to place their hind feet in exactly the impression of the previously stepped in spot, without looking back! Uncanny.
Welcome to winter.