Fluffy soft pillows of airy sugar cookie, as big as my hand. Smothered in a shiny, sugary glaze (sometimes pink, sometimes white) and decorated with round rainbow sprinkles. Since I can remember, these have always been my favorite cookies and my Grandma Figg always makes them the best. They make me feel happy, special and loved. The recipe was passed down from my Grandpa Figg's family and are responsible for making generations of kids and adults smile. These cookies are the shining symbol of how my grandma and my mom have taught me to minister to others through food.
I'll admit, I'm not so great at quoting scripture and sometimes struggle verbally to convey what having a relationship with Jesus Christ is like, but give me a few hours and I can joyfully put together a tray of cookies, brownies, ham rolls or lasagna that will give others a glimpse of Christ's love in a different way. Maybe someone's sick, had a death in the family or even just a bad day and cooking for them is a small way to show them that I care. Or perhaps a box of food can help a family with a new baby or a batch of cookies can thank my daughter's teacher for her tireless effort in the classroom. I hope that when I cook for others, it shows that I am giving them my time, labor and love, and care about their needs, just like when my mom and grandma cook for my family.
For my entire life, my mom and grandma have always taken care of my family and shown their love by preparing scrumptious homemade delights. One of my earliest childhood memories is making Christmas cookies with my mom, grandma and brother. As a child, a visit from Grandma and Grandpa Figg was something wonderful, especially when they came from out of town to make cookies! My brother, Chad and I would press our noses against the cold glass of the picture window, our quick breath fogging the view, waiting to see my grandparent’s car make its way over the hill on the snow covered dirt road. As soon as they barely set foot onto our tiled foyer, grandma and grandpa were usually attacked with pure childhood energy, the kind that has been heightened by the impossibility of waiting to make cookies. Tiny blond heads pressed into Grandma’s blue quilted coat as she juggled to unwrap the scarf protecting her hair, then gathered us to her. Tiny noses smelled Grandpa’s shaving lotion while giggling and giving him a kiss on his smoothly shaven cheek.
I never remember Grandpa helping to make Christmas cookies. Even as young children we knew that the kitchen was Grandma's domain. I’m sure he spent the afternoon tinkering with something that my mom needed help fixing, but he always re-appeared once the freshly baked cookies emerged from the oven! Before making the cookies, my mom and grandma got out their flowered aprons and the cookie recipe, though we practically knew it by heart. A little flour, some sugar, vegetable shortening, a pinch of salt, and all of a sudden we had something wonderful.
In my childhood home, our kitchen table was pushed against a picture window that let us watch the birds around the bird feeder dance and peck at the birdseed in the snow. Mom would cover the kitchen table with an old red and white checkered table cloth and grandma would put out a pile of cookie cutters. Santas, sleighs, bells, Christmas trees…we had every shape that you could imagine. Mom scattered the table with a big dusting of flour and rolled out the dough in a big haphazard circle. In a flurry of activity, the cutting began. Big hands guided little hands and the cookie sheet was filled. The warm smell of cookies soon began to waft from the oven and slowly drifted through the house.
While the cookies baked, my grandma set many small bowls on the table filled with white frosting. Chad and I excitedly decided what colors we wanted for our frosting. I always picked out some strange, overly ambitious color combination from the back of the food coloring box like “salmon:” three drops red, two drops yellow. Not the most festive color…. Grandma also got out all of the tubs of sprinkles. Soon the cookies were done, and armed with butter knives, the frosting began. A lick of frosting here and a few sprinkles tasted there, and our heads were soon buzzing with sugary delight. We were always so proud of our creations, but never waited long to taste our cookie masterpieces!
I like to keep the tradition of cooking alive through my two daughters (though sometimes with a 2-year-old it requires a lot of patience!). Whether it's making boxes and boxes of cookies to give out during Christmas to show others that we're thinking of them, to a special batch of chocolate/peanut butter no-bakes (my husband and oldest daughter's favorite) for their dad after a busy day at work, or inviting my mom and grandma over to decorate Easter cookies for all of the grandkids, I teach my girls that cooking for others is a special, caring and fun way to show Christ's love to others and to each other.
Though my brother and I are married with kids of our own, my mom and grandma still spoil us and care for us with homemade food. My mom makes dinner every Sunday for whatever family members or friends happen to be in town (I always make sure I'm one of them!). From barbeque ribs on the grill to eggplant Parmesan, we never leave hungry! And, of course, grandma always makes a homemade dessert. We can hardly wait for the summer sun to grow enough rhubarb for her or my mom to make their famous strawberry/rhubarb pie. Whenever we've had a new baby at my house, we are always lucky to have a freezer filled of a variety of mouthwatering casseroles courtesy of my grandma. Yes, we are really spoiled, and I haven't even mentioned fresh veggies prepared from the garden, gingerbread cookies at Christmas, banana cake for Chad's birthday and molasses cookies for my nephew....
Breezy's White Cookies
by Great Aunt Ada Fritz
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar, packed
¾ cup vegetable shortening
1 tsp. vanilla
½ cup buttermilk
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
3 ½ - 4 cups flour
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
1.Combine the white sugar, brown sugar, shortening, eggs and vanilla in a large bowl.
2.Add buttermilk to the mixture.
3.In a small bowl, mix the salt, soda and baking powder. Add this to the wet mixture.
4.Taking 1/3 of the mixture at a time, knead in enough flour to make a soft dough.
5.Refrigerate the dough for 4 hours.
6.Roll the dough on a floured surface to 3/8 inch thick and cut into circles with a cookie cutter.
7.Bake at 350° for about 10 minutes until the cookies spring back when touched but aren't brown.
8.When cooled, cover with your favorite glaze, frosting and/or sprinkles!