Well, the Christmas frenzy has begun! We had a wonderful Thanksgiving, as I hope you all did! We stuffed ourselves silly, enjoyed the warm company of family and friends, and had our traditional Thanksgiving night viewing of “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”. Nothing says Happy Thanksgiving in our house like laughing at Clark Griswold’s antics! Our Christmas craziness started at 6:00 a.m. Friday morning as my Mom and I braved the crowds to go people watching…we don’t buy much, but love to watch the crazy shoppers! Our weekend then continued on Saturday at Sanford’s Tree Farm near Youngsville, PA. Since long before our boys were born, Robert and I, along with my parents and my brother have gone to the “North Pole” (yes, they actually have a red and white striped north pole there!) to cut down our Christmas tree. This is an annual family event, as we have watched our boys go from little babies-Todd was just six months old when he went the first time-to handing them the saw to have their turn cutting the tree down. This year we were able to include Todd’s fiancé Amanda in our expedition… where have all of those years gone?
And now, we are on to holiday baking! As I’m sure you all have figured out by now, I love to bake. I have so many great memories of spending time in the kitchen with my Mom and my Nana. Cookie baking has always been a big deal in our family, and now is even a bigger deal here at Elegant Edibles. We are known for our homemade cookies (not just at the holidays, but year-round). We spend the days leading up to Thanksgiving and Christmas with the warm, comforting smells of cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg wafting from our ovens.
One of the first “jobs” my boys held was that of “cookie scooper” here at Elegant Edibles. I will mix a batch of dough up (and not just a little batch, mind you-we’re talking ten or twelve pounds of dough at a time) and let the kids scoop away! At Christmas, we typically make about 25 different kinds of cookies, most of which start with family recipes. We go through more than 150 pounds of butter and what seems like tons of sugar and flour (it seems like that because I have to carry all of the 25 and 50 pounds bags in from the store!). We will usually spend an entire day baking one kind of cookie, simply because it is easier to get in a rhythm and just keep cranking them out. When the time comes to get all of the cookies frosted, we call in my Dad. He is our “cookie froster extraordinaire” (although he is an excellent – and very willing – quality control taster, too!). We could just call him the Sprinkle King!
This year I’m adding a new variety to my holiday cookie repertoire…Dog Cookies! No, I don’t mean cookies shaped like dogs for people, I am making Christmas cookies for dogs! My bulldog, Bailey, and grand puppy, Millie the golden doodle, are merely four legged furry children, so I thought they deserved holiday treats, too! Dog treats are very simple to make with the recipes resembling those we are accustomed to making for ourselves. Flour, eggs, peanut butter and applesauce are common ingredients, and the addition of parsley will help with that “doggy-breath”. I like to use whole wheat or flax seed flours for extra nutrition, and these recipes do not contain sugar so they have the added benefit of not being bad for their teeth or waistline. A new concern in the ingredient list, however, can be deadly! Many dog treat recipes call for peanut butter, which as you know, dogs love. You must be very careful to NOT use sugar free peanut butters, as the artificial sweeteners can sicken your dogs, even to the point of being deadly.
Whether you bake cookies (for yourself or your dog!) from scratch or a mix, or just call us to do it for you, there is just something comforting and homey about a plate of Christmas cookies sitting on the table. It says welcome in, sit on down, and share the season with me!
Bailey’s Favorite Christmas Cookies
- 2 C whole wheat flour
- 1 C toasted wheat germ
- ½ t cinnamon
- ¾ C water
- ¼ C creamy peanut butter
- 1 egg
- 2 T canola oil
Preheat oven to 350*
Combine dry ingredients, stir in remaining ingredients. On a floured surface, roll dough to a ¼ inch thickness. Use a dog bone shaped cookie cutter (or your dog’s favorite shape!), cut and place 2 inches apart on a greased baking sheet.
Bake until bottoms are lightly browned (tops may crack a bit), 30-35 minutes. Cool on a wire rack, store in a zip bag or canister.
Tip: DO NOT use sugar free peanut butter, as this may cause illness in your pet. Also, low fat peanut butter is not recommended
To read more of Vicki McGraw’s commentaries on good cooking, fine recipes and perfect party treats, visit www.jamestowngazette.com and click on Join Me in the Kitchen’s own page. The Jamestown Gazette is proud to present our county’s most creative and original writers for your enjoyment and enlightenment.