Sunday, November 27, 2005

Cookie Exchanges

An exchange of cookies among friends or family is another way of sharing our baking. These can be organized in several ways. Keep the number to about 6, with each person bringing a dozen cookies.

Then the hostess will divide them up, so each person receives an equal number of each type. If you have the group much larger, the distribution can become rather unwieldy. However, there are many variations on this.

Also, if you’re meeting at the friend’s home for refreshments, as well as exchanging, bring some extra cookies to share with tea, coffee, or holiday punch.

When a friend organized a cookie exchange, she had 12 people participating. We all dropped our cookies at her home at a specified time. She then made the exchange and packaged each on a party plate, and we picked our goodies up later in the day. It had proved difficult to get all the participants together in an evening as it approached Christmas, so this way worked well.

(c)2005 Mary Emma Allen

(If you'd like to share stories about your cookie exchanges, write me: Write "Country Kitchen Blog" in the subject line.)

Giving Goodies for Christmas

An age-old tradition, giving gifts of goodies during the holiday season, brings joy and spreads cheer. As we share the baking from our kitchens, created from favorite family recipes and new ones, we form traditions and fond memories.

These may consist of cookies, fruitcake, pies, candy, and sometimes main meal dishes. We may give them to family as well as friends and teachers. My dad enjoyed penuche (brown sugar) fudge, so my sister and I often made a batch and wrapped it up for him. He probably expected it, but let us think he was surprised.

The first year Jim and I were married, money for Christmas gifts was in very short supply. So we made most of them, sewn, hand crafted, or baked. I made fudge of different flavors and mixed them for his and my younger brothers, giving them a gift they could eat all by themselves, if they desired.

“It’s all for me?” I recall one of his brothers asking.

My aunt and grandmother made many of the gifts they gave when I was a child. Auntie was especially good at making homemade bread, so she would bake several loaves and include them along with jars of pickles, jelly, and a plate of cookies in a “goodie” box.
They also might include jars of canned fruit…types my mom didn’t preserve.

Holiday Cookies…

DOUBLE CHOCOLATE TREATS – In a saucepan over low heat or double boiler, melt 1 cup chocolate bits. Stir until smooth and cool slightly.

Beat together ¾ cup sugar and ½ cup margarine until fluffy; blend in 2 beaten eggs, 1 teaspoon vanilla and melted chocolate.

Add dry ingredients: 2 cups oatmeal, 1 ½ cup sifted flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, ¼ teaspoon salt. Stir in remaining chocolate bits from a 12 oz. package.

Shape into 1-inch balls and roll in ½ cup powdered sugar, coating heavily. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes in preheated 350-degree oven.

Cool 1 minute on cookie sheet; then remove to wire rack. When cold, store in airtight container. Roll in colored sugar when removing to rack, if desired.

©2005 Mary Emma Allen

(Mary Emma Allen enjoys the holidays with her family in a multigenerational home in Plymouth, NH. Visit her web site: E-mail: )

Friday, November 11, 2005

Quilting Bees & Teas

My grandfather, Burton Barker Coon, writer and farmer, mentioned in his memories about his mother’s quilting, the fact that the ladies might together for afternoon tea and cut out pieces for quilt blocks. “They would take their sewing along and have a very pleasant time. All the girls were brought up to piece quilts, bake bread and do all kinds of housework….,” he related.

I wondered what they served with their afternoon tea. Then I browsed through my aunt’s cooking notebook, in which she jotted down favorite family recipes. There were several for cookies and cakes. Perhaps the ladies in the neighborhood enjoyed these as they chatted, cut pieces, and quilted.

(c) 2005

(If you have questions about quilts and quiltmaking or quilting bee foods, e-mail me: Include "Country Kitchen blog" in the subject line.)