News From Terre Haute, Indiana

January 4, 2013

RONN MOTT: The cookie box

Ronn Mott
Special to the Tribune-Star

---- — My wife has been baking gingerbread cookies for her family for more than 40 years. She personalizes the boys and girls. She also bakes Ginger Creams, Snickerdoodles, Monsters, and others, and makes old-fashioned, chocolate fudge (she adds peanut butter to it). She tells me this fudge recipe was once on the Hershey’s Cocoa can and she has been making it since she was 14 years-old.  The aroma in the house at Christmastime is wonderful. One of her sons and two grandchildren live in the Northwest and she always sends a big box full of these delectable sweets. This year, she thought about sending the recipes to her daughter-in-law here, the one in Vancouver, Washington, and giving up the majority of the annual baking. As much as she enjoys personalizing all of the gingerbread boys and girls, maybe it was time to pass the tradition on to the younger generation.

Not only does she have to mix a very stiff batter, it has to be chilled and then rolled out to about one-half inch. She then cuts out the gingerbread boys and girls, bakes them, and when they come out of the oven and cool they have to be decorated. It requires a great deal of time. And, of course, there are the other cookies and the candy.

Several days before the baking was to begin, the shooting at the Clackamas Town Center shopping mall in Oregon occurred. My wife’s granddaughter, Michaela, lives no more than 20 minutes from there, so she picked up the phone and called her. She was relieved to hear Michaela’s voice. (No one in the family had been at the shopping center where two people had been killed.) And, as fate might have it, during the course of the conversation Michaela asked when the cookie box was being sent. She mentioned to her grandmother how much she enjoys the cookies, especially the Ginger Creams … which are also her dad’s favorites. My wife laughed and told her they should be there by Thursday, December 20th, or Friday, December 21st.

The next day, our Northwest daughter-in-law sent my wife an email regarding some of the presents that were to be opened early.  At the end of the email was a question: “When is the cookie box coming?” Once again, the reply was, “Probably next Thursday or Friday.” Also, my wife’s eldest son and his wife live in the area and whenever Christmas cookies are mentioned, they always look at her and utter, “Yum, can’t wait.”

This year, in addition to the eyes, nose, mouth and other trim, the person’s first initial was written on each gingerbread boy or girl (she used to write full, first names).  Then, a scarf was added around the neck.  They look so cute and taste so good, but they are a lot of work! After the icing sets, each cookie is wrapped in plastic wrap and placed in a quart-size bag. When that is done, she frosts a double batch of Ginger Creams with cream cheese icing and dusts them with cinnamon and sugar. They are delicious! Meanwhile, Snickerdoodles and Monsters have been baked and placed in tins. And, lest I forget, the chocolate-peanut butter fudge, one of my favorite things, is cut into squares and put into a Christmas tin. (The fudge is also grandson Alex’s favorite.) After days of baking and cooking, everything is packed into a box and readied for shipping.

I must admit I, too, enjoy and appreciate all the baking, cooking and, of course, the partaking of holiday goodies.  

Granddaughter Michaela called Christmas day to thank us for the gifts we sent and told my wife she was eating her gingerbread girl cookie. The tradition continues…

Ronn Mott, a longtime radio personality in Terre Haute, writes commentaries for the Tribune-Star. His pieces are published online Tuesday and Thursday on Tribstar.com, and in the print and online editions on Saturday.