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Holiday feasting

Posted November 27, 2013 in Waukee

The holiday season is a time of giving, sharing, caring and most definitely food. Many holiday traditions center on favorite foods shared with loved ones, and most everyone can name special foods that must be on the table each year. These Waukee cooks shared some of their favorite holiday recipes along with a little story about why they are special to their families. We hope you have a wonderful time with loved ones enjoying festive eats this holiday season.

Grandma’s sugar cookies
“My beloved grandmother, who passed away a few years ago, made these fantastic frosted sugar cookies, which I believe was actually her grandmother’s recipe. She made them for all occasions but particularly for the Christmas season. There was never an occasion where we didn’t have these cookies. In fact this is sort of morbid, but the day she died she had actually made a batch of them for Easter. Everyone loved them.”
— Brad Deets

Sugar cookies
3 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp salt

Sift these ingredients together, and then add the following: 1 cup of shortening. Cut shortening into sifted mixture until like coarse meal.

Blend in the following:
2 eggs
4 Tbsp milk
2 tsp lemon flavoring

Chill well. Roll out on lightly floured board and cut into shapes with cookie cutters. Bake at 400 degrees for 6 to 8 minutes on ungreased cookie sheet.

When cool, blend the following ingredients together and frost generously:
3 1/3 cups of powdered sugar
1/3 cup of margarine softened
3 Tbsp milk
Dash of vanilla

The good old days

Terry Snyder has vivid recollections of family gatherings, complete with food and good conversation during Christmas.

Terry Snyder has vivid recollections of family gatherings, complete with food and good conversation during Christmas.

“After I was married and all of my husband’s brothers and sisters had their families, we would all go to my in-laws’ for holidays. There was close to 20 people of all ages. As the grandkids got older, they would go out and play in the back, and the adults would sit in the living room talking about everything under the sun. All the women would be in the kitchen, everyone doing something different to get the lunch/dinner ready. We all ate at the same time, maybe just not in the same room. The kids were in one room, and the adults all squeezed around the table. We had a hard time deciding whether or not to serve this sweet potato casserole as a side dish or a dessert, so we would just put everything out, even all the desserts, and then each person could decide when they wanted to eat it. It was a fun time, and everyone enjoyed being with each other, and the kids loved playing. There were no arguments, no fights, no computers, iPads, no cellphones, no T.V., etc. The kids actually played outside or inside, and the adults talked.”
— Terry Snyder

Sweet potato casserole
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Group one ingredients:
3 cups cooked, mashed sweet potatoes
2 eggs
1/3 cup milk
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup melted butter

Group two ingredients:
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
½ cup butter
1/3 cup flour
1 cup chopped nuts

Combine group one ingredients with an electric mixer until smooth. Spoon into a 2-quart sized casserole dish. In another bowl, combine the ingredients in group two. Sprinkle over the top of the casserole. Bake for 30 minutes.


Mary Harlan enjoys baking almond cookies during the holidays.

Mary Harlan enjoys baking almond cookies during the holidays.

“My recipe is for an almond cookie that I make every year at the holidays. I got the recipe from a friend when my sons were very little. They loved them right away, and now it has become a 30-year-old tradition. I always take them to family get-togethers, and if I don’t, I get chastised. I also make them for the teachers at Eason, where I work.”
— Mary Harlan

Mary’s almond cookies
1 cup butter (not margarine)
2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. pure almond extract
3 1/2 cups flour
4 tsp. baking powder

In a mixer, beat the butter and sugar until creamy. Add the eggs and extract and blend well. Stir in dry ingredients. Divide dough into four equal parts. Pat two parts into 15” x 4” rectangles on a greased cookie sheet. Repeat with the other two parts of dough. Brush each rectangle with milk. Bake at 325 degrees for 14-16 minutes, or until edges begin to brown. Run a spatula under each rectangle to loosen then cut in diagonal strips while warm. Let cool on cookie sheets, then drizzle with almond icing (recipe below). Chill to set frosting, then store in air-tight container in the fridge. These freeze very well.

Almond icing:
2 cups powdered sugar
8-9 tsp. milk
1/2 tsp. almond extract

Beat until drizzling consistency.

A taste of Germany

Char Beichley and her husband, Darwin, honor their German heritage by cooking pfeffermusse cookies during Christmas.

Char Beichley and her husband, Darwin, honor their German heritage by cooking pfeffermusse cookies during Christmas.

“Pfeffernusse are a traditional Christmas cookie in Germany as well as other European countries. In fact, many European countries have established Dec. 23 as National Pfeffernusse Day. In the mid-1970s, a fellow teacher brought these cookies to school. I took one bite and was immediately transported back to my childhood and the spicy taste of this treat from my grandma’s cookie jar. Since then, my husband Darwin and I have honored our German heritage by claiming this cookie as our traditional Christmas treat. When our sons arrive home for our Christmas celebration, they immediately grab one or more from the cookie jar. We don’t celebrate Pfeffernusse Day at our house, but December is definitely Pfeffernusse month.”
— Char Beichley

Bring to a boil:
½ cup water
2 cups granulated sugar
1/8 cup sorghum or molasses

Remove from heat and add:
5/8 cup shortening
Cool. Then add:
1 egg, well-beaten
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cloves
¼ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp anise oil (or seed)
½ cup finely chopped nuts
4 cups flour

This will be a very stiff batter and may need to be mixed with your hands. Let stand covered for at least 24 hours. Roll into small balls (about the size of a marble) and bake on an ungreased cookie sheet at 375 degrees until browned, about 8-10 minutes. Toss in powdered sugar and cool. Store tightly covered. These cookies will keep for weeks.

Makes 200-300 cookies.

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