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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

My Christmas Kitchen




Cinnamon, almond, and vanilla scent the air of my Christmas kitchen. As the fragrance lodges in the olfactory bulb of my brain's limbic system, memory is awakened. I roll the Ginger Sparklers in a plate of sugar just like I did as a child helping my mother. Sugar cookies, crisp and barely golden. Butter tarts - the only way I will eat cooked currants. Melt-in-your mouth shortbread. My mother made (and still makes) a consistent core of recipes each year, but she also tried new recipes that would fall in and out of favour as the season came and went.

So pleasant were my memories of baking with my mother that when I had children, I could hardly wait until each one was old enough to stand on a chair beside me at the counter top. Great clouds of flour rose up as little hands poured, mixed, rolled and cut. To my own family's repertoire of baking I added Morkakor, a tender almond flavoured cookie topped with meringue, from my husband's Scandinavian roots.

The years roll on. Most of my baking is solitary as my children are grown and bake on their own, filling their own kitchens with cinnamon, almond, and vanilla. Other little hands pat the dough (and sneak a little to eat raw). Nana invites them to bake, although she hasn't done so yet this season. The tins pile up on the counter and are taken to the freezer to pull out and enjoy with a cup of tea or as a bit of dessert.

Yesterday I took a tray of baking to school to share with my colleagues. Cranberry Orange Shortbread, Chocolate Mint Sandwiches, Pecan Toffee Bars, Almond Cheesecake Squares, Ginger Sparklers, and Rugelach. And marshmallows.
 

A snow storm of icing sugar on Saturday resulted in pillowy, white, vanilla-flavoured square marshmallows. This is my new recipe for this year. Sweet and delicious. Just one is enough. I'm looking forward to popping one into a mug of hot chocolate. I used Martha Stewart's recipe, available by clicking on the link.

I'd love to hear about your Christmas baking traditions. Do share.

19 comments:

  1. How delicious they all look. I suppose the tradition here is Mince pies. The problem is that no sooner are they baked...than they disappear!

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  2. These square marshmallows look beyond delicious. They are heavenly.

    Mersad
    Mersad Donko Photography

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  3. Didn’t you say you had German ancestors somewhere in your line-up?
    No Lebkuchen, Pfeffernuesse (pepper nuts), cinnamon stars or Spekulatius? No Stollen either?

    I suppose with your wonderful assortment you don’t really need anything else.

    Have a wonderfully fragrant Christmas.

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  4. Oh, Lorrie, your tray of baking looks wonderful.
    Your colleagues must have been more than happy!

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  5. A delicious looking platter Lorrie. The homemade marshmallows remind me of my late friend Joan who made them and I never did get her recipe. Thanks for the link to MS, I'll check hers out as what you're showing looks yummy.

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  6. Oh, Lorrie... these all look wonderful. And the wafting of memories that surround your recipes and experiences. Lovely!

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  7. It must smell wonderful in your kitchen Lorrie. That is quite a nice variety of sweets. I have made 2 kinds of shortbread cookies and plan to make chocolate chip shortbreads tomorrow. I just finished making Rocky Road Squares which will be frozen as well. We may sample a few for dessert tonight though. ;) These would be my favourites I guess. I used to make sugar cookies but not this year. Have fun! Pam

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  8. My baking traditions are taking a back seat to my eating plan this year. Normally we do Russian Tea Cakes, Snickerdoodles, Rolled Sugar Cookies. Your baking looks amazing and homemade marshmallows must be incredible!

    Deanna

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  9. One of our family favorites over the years have been what we named "angle kisses" (two shortbread cookies with a dulce de leche filling) because I did not know the real name and I only made them for Christmas. I have since been told the real name but do not like it so we keep calling them by our name. This year I did not make them because they have changed something about the sweetened condensed milk, whereby it stays rather runny instead of getting a more solid texture for spreading. I cooked it in the tin, and it just does not seem to be the thing to do anymore. I will see if our son will notice it missing. =)

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  10. Sorry, I meant angel kisses... not angle kisses

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  11. Thanks for visiting me! And wow ~ your cookies look like ones from Fortnum and Mason (very posh food
    shop in London) ~ am impressed! Delicious, they must be. Glad you're getting lots of teaching work...holidays soon :)

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  12. Oh I agree - baking together is the best fun. Mostly I bake alone, or with Don these days, but our 10 year old grandson came over one day and we made Spritz cookies, even colored some of the dough red and some green. Our favorites are Pecan Tarts (I think similar to your butter tarts), thumbprint cookies with homemade raspberry jam, Gingerbread pig with pink frosting on their backs (from the book "Little Women", a story our oldest daughter loved), toffee bars and a new recipe now and then also. This year I am going to try Pecan Lace Cookies. Oh, and German Stollen - I make batches and batches of it - for eating and for gifts. Your cookie tray looks wonderful - and I've never made marshmallows, might want to try that too. Ahhhh holiday baking.

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  13. Mmmm I can just about smell your kitchen ! and what a wonderful variety of items you make! I saw Darlene's FB post of all the cookies that were on her kitchen counters as well!! WOW! I am looking forward to being at my parents house this Christmas for the goodies she will she! Always better when mom makes them. Cuban Lunch, an easy recipe is one that always gets done here,,,,as well as Fudge Puddles. :) Enjoy!

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  14. Oh my! You really create some lovely treats! I make three or four family favorites, but don't do as much baking as I used to.
    Enjoy!!!
    Lin

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  15. What pretty cookies! So those marshmallows really are good? I have often wondered.

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  16. The Christmas Kitchen really produced some beauties. I can imagine the lovely aromas!

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  17. Your baking looks just wonderful. Oh marshmallows! How I would love them. I tried making them once and they were a disaster, haven't tried again. This year just the standards: stollen for Christmas morning, mince pies, date pinwheels, cherry winks, and French florentines. The date pinwheels are in the refrigerator ready to bake, but will be baked after Christmas and the French florentine's are also in the refrigerator ready to bake. Just don't need many cookies any more, not many in the family eat them and I certainly don't need them. So we will have cookies off and on for another month.

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  18. What a beautifully arranged tray of yummy-looking goodies, Lorrie!! It looks so pretty for the Christmas season, and everything sounds delicious -- especially the homemade marshmallows. :-D Thanks so much for sharing your recipes with us; I'm sure they were much enjoyed during the holiday season.

    Big hugs to you,

    Denise at Forest Manor

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