1. Spritz cookies., 2. special K bars, 3. Classic_Peanut_Brittle, 4. it’s a norwegian thing…
As I sit on my sofa here, the day after Christmas, surveying the post season carnage that is still strewn about my living room, I have the urge to reach for another Christmas cookie. Sigh. It would be soothing, except I just realized they are gone. Not only are the presents all unwrapped, but the last cookie created in my annual cookie baking extravaganza is gone too, eaten and enjoyed.
I wrote earlier this season about how making holiday cookies made me feel sentimental, specifically for grandmas. My grandmas are two very different people, one smoked like a chimney, fly fished and shot gophers for fun, drank, swore, and ran a Montana sheep ranch from the back of a ride on mower. I still idolize her. My other grandma has no smoking signs in her impeccably clean home. She attends church and the hairdressers with extreme regularity, she sleeps on a satin covered pillow that holds her bouffant in place and she might be the best home cook I know. They both gardened and they were (and one still is), both, holiday bakers. I bake in their spirit because the joy of making cookie packages for everyone I know is my way of spreading holiday cheer. This year as I baked, I thought a lot about both of them and how they have influenced me. And thinking about grandmas, my mind immediately wandered to thinking of garden plants. On the Montana ranch of one grandma and in the Big Thompson river canyon home of the other I learned to love nature and gardens. Thoughts of them, as I rolled snicker-doodles in cinnamon sugar, left me with a mental list of plants that I just love, purely for sentimental reasons
The quick list includes:
- Burgundy red peonies that were planted in an extraordinary hedge on the ranch and who were always in bloom when I came for summers.
- Amazing smelling marigolds. Though I don’t love the flower, the smell and the memory of spreading their seeds – and then weeding them out later always makes me smile.
- Wild growing nettle and horsetail grass. Long walks always involved pulling apart pieces of grass, and I will never forget my first incorrect plant identification… when I excitedly thought that the nettle was mint, and my cousins and I rubbed it all over our faces trying to get it to smell.
- Hollyhocks which served as dolls who lived in dirt forts.
- Vast swathes of oriental poppies mixed with white daisies, one of my all time favorite plant combinations.
- Weeping willows – one grew on the banks of Spring Creek which runs through my grandmas ranch and our swimming hole was beneath it, and one grew in the center of my backyard. As a child I famously saved the backyard willow from being cut down by my dad, and it now reigns over the neighborhood – easily the most beautiful thing around.
Listing these in my head, I was surprised to realize that I don’t really have any of these plants in my own current garden. Kind of like a house isn’t a home unless it is filled with family pictures, furniture hand me downs and favorite things, my garden doesn’t feel homey without these. So I made my first resolution for 2010 – to change that. And now as I once again think about cookies at the end of the season, I am realizing that while I bake to memorialize (among other things), I don’t make the same cookies that I ate as a child. My 2009 holiday collection of cookies included, chocolate chip, molasses, ginger, oatmeal raisin, chocolate crinkles, maple bars, cinnamon chocolate cut outs, and snicker-doodles. With the exception of maple bars, my cookies are all of the spoon, scoop, drop and bake variety, but my grandmas had different methods. They used cookie presses, rosette irons, candy thermometers and implements that I have not yet mastered. So now I have my second resolution, I will in 2010 shop for some of these tools and next year I will try to carry on, with even greater variety, the holiday cookie extravaganza.
It will take some hard action, but these are good and accomplish-able New Years resolutions I think.