This morning I arose at 5 A.M. to get ready for the trip to the airport to pick up our son. Orbitz called at 3:20 A.M. to alert us to his pending arrival at 9 A.M. Once showered and dressed, I hurried downstairs and heated water in the kettle for my morning cup of French Press. I mixed cookie dough last night, so I set out to make some fresh cookies for his arrival. This recipe is the only one I make for the holidays. It was Great Grandma de Vries', passed along from a Mrs. Charles Speaker in the church ladies 1923 recipe book. These cookies are filled with dates, apricots, raisins, currents, dried cherries and walnuts, all slow cooked 'til thick and sticky.
My mom would spend days baking a large assortment of Christmas goodies, then deliver platefuls to friends and family. When my sisters and I tackled the job of cleaning out her house after her death last year, I found the big old tin she filled with these cookies. Mom's cookies were delicious, made from her grandmother's recipe. Of course, mine never taste as good as those that came from her kitchen. But for two Christmases now, I have retrieved the old tin from the top cupboard and got busy in the kitchen.
This morning I donned my apron, one that I picked up at a garbage sale after I became a stay-at-home mom. It is old and soft, with two small pockets. It covers me from neck to mid-thigh, with small pink and purple dabs of color along tiny red and aqua vines. I often wonder who wore this apron, and for what recipe she was best remembered. Was it a triple-layer chocolate cake? Lime green, cottage cheese Jello salad? Christmas cookies, or a tender pot roast? Did she sew this apron with its pink bias tape edging, or did her aunt make this for her bridal shower when she was about to become a "lady of the house"?
I started collecting aprons tens year ago after I found my pink coverup. Now I have a drawerful. When I arrived at Mackey Church one morning to help serve Christmas breakfast to the congregation, I wore the red and green organza apron with a ruffled lower edge. The church ladies were impressed.
That following spring, a postcard arrived announcing our first church circle meeting of the year. We were asked us to bring a favorite apron and a memory associated with aprons. That made me smile. Look to the right for their stories.....
Recipe for Great Grandma Cora de Vries' Filled Cookies
2 cups sugar
1 cup lard, or shortening
1 cup sour milk
6 cups flour
4 tsp. cream of tartar
2 tsp. soda
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup water
1.5 cups sugar
1 lb. gold/brown raisins
1 lb. chopped dates
1/2 cup chopped apricots
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup currants
Set oven to 350 degrees. Cream shortening and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla. Add milk, alternately with flour mixture of soda, cream of tartar and salt. Roll thin and cut good-sized circles. Use generous spoonful of filling to center of bottom circle. Wet edge with cream. Cover with top circle and press with tines of fork to seal edge.
Bake cookies 'til edges are golden brown. Cool on rack and store in air tight container. Make early so they flavor well. Makes 30 large, or 60 small cookies depending on size of circles cut. Mom's note- "these are Dennis and Cathy's favorite...I should make them more often, but to me they are Christmas only!"