Saturday, December 22, 2007

Some serious baking...

Holidays in my family have always been drenched in tradition, especially Christmas. It all started as soon as Thanksgiving dinner was over. That's when the Christmas music in our house started and the festivities officially began. Some of our traditions have changed and evolved over the years, but one thing has stayed the same: the Hall home becomes a literal cookie making factory for the month of December.
Every Christmas I can remember has included baking a very large quanity of sandbakkels, a rich, buttery Scandinavian cookie that has been passed down the generations in our family. It's hand pressed (not cookie pressed!) into tart-like molds, baked and then popped out to be eaten and enjoyed.
As a kid I thought it was fun to be mom's helper, although in more recent years I've discovered that my cookie forming technique back in those days was horrible and my mom used to have to go back and redo my cookies. As a teenager I helped out, but constantly wondered when, if ever we would be done. Now as an adult, I love it. I call it our version of quilting. My sister, mom and I get together and instead of poking ourselves with needles we get an occasional burn from a cookie mold just out of the oven. And, of course, we love that it gives us a chance to just spend time together.
As the years have passed, our 'fan base' for these cookies has grown. Our friends start dropping hints in mid-November that they're excited to have a Hall delivery in the coming weeks. This year we started early. Thanks to a lot of freezer space and the dairy farmers for all of the butter we used, I'm excited to report that we produced about 1500 cookies. That's right -- one thousand five hundred. I know, you're wondering how in the world could you give that many away? But, once you start putting 12 or 24 on a plate they go FAST, I promise. And, don't worry, we didn't do it all in one day. We actually spaced it out over 4 different afternoons.
This year we had an extra special treat when Kristina's friend McCall joined us after their fun day together. It was so great to have someone else join in the fun. As a nine year-old McCall's dough-pressing skills far exceed what I was able to do at her age. We'll definitely enlist her next year if she's interested.
So, I hope your holiday preparations have been filled with tradition and fun as well. Christmas is right around the corner, and I feel like I've been bursting with Christmas cheer for a week. I'm just loving it all, even the crowded stores and parking lots, this year!