When we got back from our California trip, my window of opportunity for cookie-baking had been narrowed considerably -- especially considering that our cookies were mostly for export out of state.
So I steeled myself for about three days of nonstop cookie baking. I went to find my tried-and-true recipes, in my mom's old cookbooks.
I couldn't find the books.
The old, tattered Betty Crocker cookie book -- not in the bookcase. Ditto the old Br'er Rabbit Molasses book. The stained spiral-bound Lutheran ladies' cookbook -- not in the bookcase.
I went to the garage office, where I still have a few boxes from our house consolidation, and tore through them looking for any old cookbooks. No luck. I came back inside and looked behind the other books in the bookcase, thinking I may have squirreled these unlovely but useful books somewhere out of public eye. Nope.
Then I vaguely remembered having a fish-or-cut-bait moment, as we cleaned out our garage that spring after I sold my house, looking at a box of battered old books and loose recipes and making an executive decision to let it all go.
This was probably a smart decision at the time. Yet now I felt sad; another connection to my mom and my roots lost. I remember my mother telling me about writing for all sorts of free cookbooks from food companies when she was a newlywed. I remembered her own handwritten recipes in a falling-apart ring binder. All gone now, I sighed.
Until I snapped out of it and reminded myself that the recipes are not lost forever. And my particular family cookie menu has found a new generation of appreciative eaters in our kids.
So I got online. I found the Betty Crocker mother lode of cookie recipes. I did general searches on other recipes. And I did it; I replicated the standard LutheranChik Family Christmas cookie plate.
Not only that -- I actually found a better sugar cookie recipe than the one I had. (Sorry, Lutheran church ladies.) The recipe I'm about to share with you makes very soft, lovely, delicate cut-out cookies. And of course they're not just for Christmas. Think about making these, say, for a sweetie on Valentine's Day, cut into hearts and iced and sprinkled with glistening sugar:
Sour Cream Cut-Out Cookies
1 C. butter 1 C. sugar 3/4 C. sour cream (light sour cream works okay but nonfat sour cream does not) 1 egg 2 tsp. baking powder 1 tsp. baking soda 1/2 tsp. salt 1 tsp. nutmeg 4 1/2 C. flour
Cream together butter and sugar. Add the sour cream, egg and the vanilla; mix well. Stir in baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg. Gradually add flour until dough is too difficult to stir. Mix the rest by hand. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and roll out to 1/4 to 1/2-inch thick. Cut into desired shapes with your favorite cookie cutters. Space cookies about 1 1/2 inches apart on a greased cookie sheet. Bake for 6-8 minutes in a preheated 350-degree oven or until lightly browned at the edges. Cool completely on wire racks. Decorate as desired.
These tend to dry out quickly, so enjoy them within a few days of baking them. They can also be made ahead of time and frozen,un-iced, then thawed and decorated right before serving/giving them.