When my Mom was about 16, she decided to bake sugar cookies. I can just see my Granny looking on with a look of quiet observance, as if she would neither be surprised nor moved if the cookies turned out to be the best in the world or if they caught fire in the oven. My Mom continued to bake the same recipe every year, giving them to the multitude of relatives and friends that comprised her small town. One year, so the story goes, she doled out 150 cookies. It may have been the first thing my Mom did in the kitchen that was hers - without help, without guidance, without it being her father's favorite or her grandmother's best dish. Unlike my maternal great-grandmother, my sister, and myself, my Mom was never a culinary spirit. She doesn't particularly enjoy preparing or creating food. Her enthusiasm about these cookies is unrivaled. My sister and I picked up on this at an early age, and have since always tried to display equal enthusiasm, even in teen years on a pertual diet or miles away in China where my sister missed out on the cookies this year but was with us in spirit saying that I should write about them on my blog.
SUGAR COOKIES (makes about 40-50 cookies)
2 1/4 cups of all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon milk
Sift flour, salt, and baking powder together. Cream shortening and sugar together, adding eggs and vanilla. Then add sifted ingredients and milk. Mix with a spoon. Roll and cut.
Cook 300 for 10 minutes.
4 tablespoons softened butter
3 tablespoons milk
2 cups confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Work butter with spoon until very soft. Add sugar gradually, thinning with milk. Beat well. Add vanilla.
As a child, I didn't touch the cookies without the rich butter cream frosting. I also liked to make the colors as deep and psychedelic as possible. I'm still crazy with the food coloring paste but also like the cookies bare.