Yes, the holiday season has begun in earnest. Some folks like to start when fall starts and that’s OK. But the Eatin’ Season? That’s a whole different ballgame.
It generally begins after parents have gone through their children’s Halloween candy to pick out the Reeses, miniature Snickers, Mounds, and Milky Ways along with some Hershey’s chocolates. I mean, the kids like all those extreme sour gummy worms and bears that make them screw up their faces like they have an affliction.
When I was growing up, we lived all over the place and never for over three years. My father was an Air Force officer. To be truthful, I loved that life of travel. I had friends of all nationalities, religions, colors.
Of course, none of that mattered to my Aunt Eunice who, along with my Uncle Orie, lived in the old Emert home place. Regardless of our location at the time, she sent a box of her homemade teacakes. You haven’t lived until you have eaten her teacakes. I’ve tried to make them, but hers had a flavor that can’t be matched. She even managed to send a box to Morocco. I still remember biting into one of them and I think my eyes rolled back in my head in ecstasy.
My brother, sister, and I knew when the Eatin’ Season started and what it meant to my mother. She’d start buying food coloring, powdered sugar, bags of other sugars, flour, cinnamon, cloves, cocoa, and other foods associated with Thanksgiving and Christmas.
She would get as excited as her children, especially when it was cookie making time. She’d spread a cloth over our dining room table so we kids could sit or stand and help cut out and decorate Mom’s basic sugar cookie dough that could evolve into snickerdoodles, wedding cookies, and figures of turkeys, Santa, Rudolph, sleighs, candy canes, and other shapes. I still use her recipe and so does my daughter.
Traditions are big deals with me as they were with my mother. All kinds of activities get passed down through the ages.
I remember my Grandma Emert used to make something called chocolate rolls. All she did was make a buttery kind of pie crust and cut it in circles. She’d then take some cocoa and spoon it in the middle of the circle. Then she’d put a spoonful of sugar on top of the cocoa and put a couple of pats of butter (real butter, not margarine, which is one molecule away from plastic), fold the dough over the cocoa mixture, and bake it in her woodstove oven. The butter and sugar would melt and mix with the cocoa. It was so simple and so good.
When our kids were growing up, I passed the cookie making tradition on down to them.
We’d get out the sprinkles, colored sugars, cinnamon and such along with all manner of cookie cutter shapes. We’d spend a whole day decorating cookies. I let the kids create anything they wanted with those reindeer, Santas, candy canes and such. When they finished, the kitchen looked like a big decorated Christmas cookie. It was so much fun that I like to get together with grandchildren to do it all over again.
I remember when our first grandchild, Jeffrey, was not even 2. I sat him in a high chair, gave him some cookie dough and some decorating sugars and such. Let’s just say that it was a most uniquely decorated cookie, mixed with baby spit and lots of love.
The specialty of my mother-in-law, the late great Evelyn Hatcher Brooks Causby, was her homemade fruit cake and chocolate covered cherries. She’d would start the fruitcake several weeks early. The candied fruit would be soaked in bourbon first before she mixed it all together in a spiced cake batter. Once the cake was baked, she’d cool it and wrap it in a bourbon-soaked cheesecloth and place it in a covered tin. Every so often, she’d open the tin and re-soak the cheesecloth. In reality, I think this is how she made it. All I know is that it was absolutely delicious.
I miss that fruitcake. She passed away on Christmas Eve morning back in 1997. Gracious, it’s been 25 years since I’ve eaten a slice of that cake. Bill and I tried to make it last year. It was a dismal failure.
Yep, I enjoy the Eatin’ Season.
It just occurred to me that I have a 20 pound frozen turkey that needs to be put in the refrigerator to thaw. Family is coming. Gotta make some turkey and leaf shaped cookies, maybe some snickerdoodles and pumpkin pie. Come January 2, this season will all be over and we’ll all be 20 pounds heavier!