14 November 2009

Weekend Cooking: Cookies Anyone?

Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page. For more information, see the welcome post.


You know what time of the year it is? Cookie time! Yep. December is all about the cookies and cookie exchanges. When I was a little girl, my mother would take a weekend in early December and spend from early Saturday morning into Sunday midday baking and decorating. My dad (who is not a baker) would stay up to keep her company and help any way he could. When we kids got up on that Sunday morning, we were allowed to eat the broken cookies for breakfast! That was an amazing treat for us. Later that afternoon we would go out as a family and deliver cookies to everyone in the neighborhood. It was a wonderful tradition.

One way I know that it's getting on toward Christmas is when I find myself buying the special-interest magazines at the checkout counter of the grocery store. This week, I picked up the Better Homes and Gardens Christmas Cookies magazine. [Side note: Mr. BFR noticed the magazine on the kitchen table. What did he mean when he asked me if I really needed it?]

This year, the issue is filled with lots fun ideas. There are even special "cookies" for dogs and for cats. The magazine has something for everyone, from exquisitely decorated cookies made from scratch to quick and easy cookies that start with a cake mix. Each recipe is accompanied by a beautiful photograph and tips and hints are scattered throughout the pages. Better Homes and Gardens are reliable and test and retest their recipes.

From the newest cookie collection I've acquired to the oldest. Just about the very first cookbook I ever owned is Betty Crocker's Cooky Book, which my mom gave me when I was in high school. At least once a week when I was a teen, my girlfriends and I would bake cookies together after school. Our mothers were fine with this, as long as we cleaned up after ourselves. I don't think I've ever had a failure out of this book, even when I was an inexperienced and young baker paying more attention to my friends and gossip than I was to the cookie dough.

There are chapters for every kind of cookie you can think of, including good ones for mailing, for children, for special diets, and for different holidays. There is whole chapter on brownies and one on heritage cookies; there's even an icing section and decorating tips. I recommend this book to everyone -- experienced and newbie bakers alike. I've been using it for years and have yet to be disappointed.

The third cookie book I want to talk about is the award-winning The All-American Cookie Book by Nancy Baggett. This is a newer book and a bit more sophisticated than the other two. Some of the recipes require a more skill and time, but you'll still find lots of bar cookies, 40 pages of chocolate chip cookies, and basic sugar cookies and shortbread. There is a great introductory chapter with lots of advice for consistently making fabulous cookies.

The last chapter has some fun cookie crafts, including jigsaw puzzle cookies and a gingerbread house. And you'll also find some great icings and fun decorating ideas. Most (but not all) of the cookies are shown in gorgeous photographs. In fact I got hungry just writing up this post! As with the other books, you'll find terrific tips and hints throughout the text. I recommend this for bakers looking for new ideas.

I own many cookie cookbooks, but here are four more that I've baked out of a lot over the years and can recommend.

Rose's Christmas Cookies by Rose Levy Beranbaum, Cookie Companion by King Arthur Flour, Biscotti by Lou Seibert Pappas, and Bar Cookies: A to Z by Marie Simmons.

So you want to know where the recipe is?? Ha, this is a trick post. Today, Kathy of BermudaOnion and Julie of BookingMamma are kicking off their twelve days of Christmas cookies! Later in the week they'll be asking for cookie recipes, I'll be sharing some my favorite cookies as part of their get ready for the holidays fun.

All books discussed in this post were bought (see review policy)


caite 11/14/09, 7:01 AM  

'tis the season of cookies! and my post, by co-inky-dink, is also about cookies. At least one very special cookie!

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks 11/14/09, 7:29 AM  

Do you have a favorite recipe for 'icebox cookies' (I think that's what they're called) - you make the dough ahead of time, roll it into a log and freeze it, then slice and bake when you need it? I've never made them, but I think our schedule calls for them this year.

Margot at Joyfully Retired 11/14/09, 7:35 AM  

The Betty Crocker Cookie Book is an old, old favorite of mine. I like all your other selections however.

Julie P. 11/14/09, 8:16 AM  

Thanks for the shout out! I linked my book review of THE CHRISTMAS COOKIE CLUB since it's cookie related!

bermudaonion 11/14/09, 8:27 AM  

The cookie cookbooks look wonderful - especially The All-American Cookie Book. I would love to come look through your cookbooks!

Thanks for mentioning our virtual cookie swap!

Sherrie 11/14/09, 10:42 AM  

Hi Beth,
They all sound like great books to have around at Christmas. I don't really have a cookie book but I have my mom's recipe book. It was passed to me when she passed away. Have a great day!!

Sherrie's Stuff

Wendy 11/14/09, 11:30 AM  

I wrote a holiday post today too (and also talked about Betty Crocker!!). I find myself buying the special issue holiday magazines this time of year as well - love them!

JoAnn 11/14/09, 11:46 AM  

I love those special-interest magazines! I decided to play along today and posted a recipe for dark chocolate cookies with espresso.

April 11/14/09, 12:27 PM  

I LOVE cookies - both baking them and eating them, lol! I also adore the cookie cookbooks!

Nise' 11/14/09, 12:47 PM  

I just got the 09 Betty Crocker Christimas Cookie receipe book in the email yesterday! I've already got the ones I want to try marked.

Belle 11/14/09, 12:52 PM  

Cookies! Such a wonderful reminder that the holidays are drawing nearer. I love the 12 days of Christmas cookies idea.

Jill 11/14/09, 12:52 PM  

I love that you have great cooking memories growing up. I'm doing that with my nieces, as well...though I don't bake!! I want them to love to be in the kitchen...

Lynda 11/14/09, 1:28 PM  

Great idea - posted a cookie recipe here;

Lisa 11/14/09, 4:57 PM  

Well, now I've got to go do some baking!

Petunia 11/14/09, 6:07 PM  

Hey, I have a copy of that Betty Crocker Cooky Book that I stole from Mom when I got married. I don't make anything from it but once a year if I'm lucky. I love the oh-so-60s look of the photos. Weird how pics of cookies can look dated.

Claudia 11/14/09, 9:20 PM  

I think when men ask questions like, "do you really need that?" what they're not saying, but thinking, goes something like, "You so don't need that. You have like 15 million cookbooks already." Best to just ignore. I don't actually have any cookie cookbooks, just magazine seasonal cookie supplements I've ripped out and saved in a large box, which pre-dates using the internet for food searches. Sigh, the olden days.

dirty 11/15/09, 6:15 AM  

I love this time of year and all the baking, especially the cookies!

The Bumbles 11/15/09, 11:05 PM  

That is a great tradition from your childhood. Broken cookies for breakfast! Our neighborhood always did a cookie swap party for the grown-ups - a way to gather for the holidays without the formality of a holiday party.

Veens 11/16/09, 4:42 AM  

The cookie books look so good.. and so yummy!~

Mr. BFR obviously meant that you r such a great cook you really dnt need help from the magz :)

Jen - devourer of books 11/16/09, 11:23 AM  

I should know better than to open this post at work. Mmmm, cookies..

stacybuckeye 11/16/09, 11:57 AM  

You've made me hungry.

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