Let us put by some hour of every day for holy things...

Think on th' eternal home,
The Saviour left for you;
Think on the Lord most holy, come
To dwell with hearts untrue:
So shall ye tread untired His pastoral ways,
And in the darkness sing your carol of high praise.

--from Keble's The Christian Year, Thoughts in Verse



Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Making Cookies, Making Memories

It was nearly 40 years ago, but not a Christmas has passed since that time that I haven't remembered the occasion--two teenaged girls laughing and working together in a midwest farm kitchen, mixing up a batch of chocolate cookies.  I was one of the girls; the other was my cousin and dear friend, Marilyn. 

We had grown up together as little girls in Ohio, but my own family had since moved to another state. We'd made the long drive back for a brief vacation, and Marilyn and I were reveling in the reunion. She was sharing her favorite cookie recipe with me. Christmas Peepers. It was a wonderfully messy process and the cookies were so delicious. I remember it was the first time I'd ever seen anyone use a nonstick cooking spray--"Pam". And I remember how both of us forgot to remove our new class rings and they got all coated with chocolate dough, which struck us as hysterically funny.

I have made those same cookies every year since. And every year, there would be a note in my Christmas card or hers, saying, "I made Christmas Peepers today. Do you remember how much fun we had?" It's hard to believe how much time has passed.

Marilyn passed away a few years ago after a long bout with cancer.  Today my youngest son and I made the cookies. I find the ritual both sweet and sad, but I'm so thankful for the memory. Tonight when I'm outside with my dogs, looking up into the wintry sky, I'll ask the Lord to give Marilyn a message. Hey, I made the cookies today! Do you remember how much fun we had?
My last visit with Marilyn. Her cancer was in remission at this point. I treasure the recipe card in her handwriting. It's stained and faded, but I won't part with it.

Here is the recipe, more or less as Marilyn shared it with me. I have added my own notes at the bottom.

Christmas Peepers

64 miniature marshmallows, frozen
3 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2/3 cup cocoa
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
2 eggs unbeaten
1 tsp. vanilla

~ ~ ~ 
 Cream shortening, butter, and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla.

Combine remaining ingredients and add gradually to sugar mixture.
(It makes a dry dough. You may want to use your fingers to mix it all.)

Take a piece of dough about the size of a walnut, flatten, then place a marshmallow into the center and form ball around it.  Roll in additional granulated sugar.  

Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 6 minutes until balls begin to crack.   

Notes from Victoria:  PLEASE don't bother counting out 64 miniature marshmallows!  Just pour some in a dish and set them in the freezer while you mix the dough. Much easier! And anyway, you won't really get 64 cookies out of this recipe. Closer to 3 1/2 dozen. I confess sometimes I don't bother to freeze the marshmallows and sometimes I don't use them at all! The cookies still taste wonderful, they just don't have the same interesting little hollow space when you bite into them. The 6 minutes is approximate. In my oven it takes a bit longer. Just watch for them to start developing those cracks! Then remove to a rack and cool. These are SO GOOD. Very brownie-like. Oh, and even though Marilyn used cooking spray on the cookie sheets, it's not necessary. I like to use parchment paper, though. It makes clean-up so easy.   

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