The November theme for Tie One On asks us to picture an apron and share a family recipe for the holidays. This is one of the many aprons in my Great grandmother’s apron collection and was my first choice when the collection was divided last week. It is made from feedsack/floursack fabric and pieced together in a really complicated way that makes you realize that people with fabric shortages had some great problem solving and sewing skills. You can see me wearing it here.
My Great grandmother (Thelma Alzina) was a terrific baker — I remember her for her cookies. As a girl, my mom remembers helping her often in the kitchen but was never allowed to help without choosing an apron from the bountiful apron drawer. During a lull in cookie consumption between the grandchild and great-grandchild generations, Thelma wrote this poem.
The Lonely Cookie Jar
The cookie jar sits in the same old place,
But it looks sort of different somehow;
I wonder if it could be lonley,
As I am lonely now?
It used to be raided by small, eager hands
And emptied so quickly, too;
It kept me busy, keeping it filled
With cookies, fresh and new.
Someday, I hope they’ll come home again,
Although it may be from far,
And bring other small, eager hands
To raid Grandma’s cookie jar.
We came, lots of us in turn, and we raided for sure. Her special Christmas cookie recipe was peppernuts (pfeffernuss). She ordered special, heavy-duty, anise oil from the pharmacy that made them extra strong and good. She was also the master of making the cookies really tiny. If you make them too big these days, you’ll be reminded that yours are not as tiny as Grandma’s.
I love these cookies and I am doing my part to keep up the tradition. They are yummy and fun to make if you are not in a rush. I’m not going to lie – they are tedious, especially if you aim to make them as small as Thelma’s.
Great-Grandma’s Peppernuts (Pfeffernuss)
1 lb butter
3 cups sugar
4 Tbsp. dark corn syrup
Continue creaming until smooth.
2 tsp. anise oil (or more to taste. I use more.)
6 1/2 cups flour
4 tsp. soda
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. cloves
1 tsp. ginger
Add above mix to 1st mixture until all flour is blended.
Chill dough. Roll dough in thin rolls (snakes) and slice or pinch off very small amounts to make very small cookies. Place on baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees until done. Store in a tin and enjoy by the handful.
Peppernuts are pictured in the blue snowman tin. Think penny size. (Can you see that our family takes holiday sweets pretty seriously?)