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My Mom Can Bring the Cookies

Natural Parent, Natural Child Series

December 4, 2013
By Heidi Maness Hartwiger - Contributing Writer , OVParent

Once the kids are loaded on the school bus, bus stop moms linger in conversation and offer great early-morning group therapy.

Recently on a frosty morning, I chatted with the moms clustered at our road's bus stop. The buzz was about refreshments for upcoming holiday activities and how their kids always felt free to volunteer refreshments on short notice. It seems that cookies have replaced cupcakes as the treat of choice for kid gatherings. After a couple of mothers confessed to routinely purchasing decorated cupcakes from the grocery bakery, another suggested she was happy because cookies were much easier. All she did was buy the slice and bake cookie dough rolls. She controlled the size, and her cookies didn't look "store bought." Then in a collective gasp all heads turned in my direction because I am called the "make-it-from-scratch" neighborhood granny.

They seemed relieved and amused as I shared a tidbit of neighborhood history.

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One bus stop mom now lives in the home of the woman who was a cookie baking legend back in the day when my four were bus stop kids.

Long after her six boys were up and gone, she continued as the queen of cookies until she moved to a retirement community. She had a 6-in-1 cookie recipe that she mixed, divided into six rolls and kept in the freezer. She could slice, bake and serve fresh cookies in the time it took to brew a pot of coffee.

This is her basic cookie recipe with suggestions for additions. As you will see, there are plenty of opportunities for creative twists. Prepare this recipe and you will never again be caught in the great cookie crunch!

To Make 6-in-1 Cookies: Beat 1 cup butter with 1 cup light brown sugar and 1 cup granulated sugar. Beat in 2 large eggs and 2 teaspoons vanilla until well mixed. Into the wet ingredients, blend 4 cups unbleached flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda. Divide into 6 portions of 2 cups each. To each portion, add a different ingredient such as 1/2 cup flaked coconut; 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts, almonds or pecans; 1/4 cup chunky peanut butter; 1/4 cup hazelnut chocolate spread; 1 square of melted unsweetened chocolate; 1/4 cup chopped candied cherries; or 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg. You can also add the spices to the coconut or nut cookies. Shape into rolls about 1 1/2 inches diameter. Wrap in foil and freeze. To bake: Slice frozen dough in about 1/4-inch thick slices. Bake on lightly greased cookie sheet at 375 degrees for 10 minutes.

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As the cookie discussion continued, I drew an absolute blank when one mom asked me if Virginia had a state cookie.

After hearing the Pennsylvania grandmother talk about the great "state cookie" controversy in Pennsylvania a few years ago, her fourth-grader was looking for a cause and wanted to propose a state cookie for Virginia.

Back in the 1700s when Moravians from Germany settled Nazareth, Pa., they brought a sugar cookie recipe.

It seems a group of historically minded folks from Nazareth in recent years nominated the Nazareth Sugar Cookie as the official state cookie. They traveled to Harrisburg and lobbied the state legislature with Nazareth Sugar Cookies made in the shape of Pennsylvania's symbol, the keystone.

As the story goes, a group of elementary students took up the" state cookie" cause, instead promoting the chocolate chip cookie as the Pennsylvania state cookie.

From last reports, the decision has yet to be made.

During the description of the Nazareth Sugar Cookie, I had an epiphany.

This was the simple round sugar cookie my mom and her siblings put out for Santa when they were little. No one knows exactly when the cookies and milk tradition for Santa began. Some say it was in the early 1930s. This may be why my mom's family called sugar cookies without colored sugar and icing "hardtimes" cookies.

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As I looked for the 6-in-1 cookie recipe to share with the bus stop moms, I came across my grandmother's recipe for "Lump of Coal" cookies - as in be good or Santa will put a lump of coal in your stocking.

These tasty little nuggets appeared at Christmas only on the cookie plates. I secretly wished to be a little bit naughty so I might find that Lump of Coal cookie in my stocking. These Lump of Coal cookies will send cookie eaters into chocolate euphoria.

To make Lump of Coal Cookies: The ingredients: 4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips, 1/2 cup butter, 2 eggs,1 teaspoon vanilla, 6 tablespoons granulated sugar, 2/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 teaspoon baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Combine 2 cups of chips and butter in the top of a double boiler and stir until melted (updated version: use a microwave safe bowl and microwave on HIGH at 30 second intervals, stir and heat again until mixture is melted and smooth). Let cool. In a mixing bowl, beat eggs and vanilla then add sugar. Continue to beat until mix is light and thickened. Mix all dry ingredients except for remaining chocolate chips. Beat into the egg mixture. Stir in remaining 2 cups of chocolate chips. This batter is soft. Drop by tablespoonfuls about 1 1/2 inches apart on to a lightly oiled cookie sheet. Parchment paper works, too. This next step is essential for successful "Lump of Coal" cookies. Refrigerate cookies on trays for 30-45 minutes. Bake at 325 for 15-20 minutes until cookies are firm. Cool the cookies on the cookie sheets for 2 minutes, then move to wire racks to finish cooling. Yield 2 1/2 dozen. Store in air-tight container or freeze.

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You've put out the lights said, "Sweet dreams."

A voice in the darkness: "Oh Mom, I forgot - I have to bring a bunch of cookies to school tomorrow."

"Not a problem" you say, because you have tamed the cookie monster and can have a batch of cookies baking while breakfast is in progress.

- Heidi Maness Hartwiger, a Wheeling native, is a writer, teacher and storyteller. She is the author of six books, including her most recent, a novel titled "Fire in Progress." She is a mother of four and a grandmother of five.

 
 

 

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  1. Yes, it's a tradition
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