I’ve never been much of a collector of anything. In fact, I’m quite the opposite. I am at my happiest when I am ridding my household of unnecessary items and slipping unused travel mugs into the trash behind my husband’s back. My friend collects snowmen, my brother-in-law collects coins, my grandfather collected stamps and my father-in-law collects Marilyn Monroe wine (hey, whatever moves you). But a glance though my personal belongings reveals no rhyme or reason to anything I own. I don’t hang on to anything long enough to officially collect it.
Today, I was searching for a Christmas cookie recipe left behind by our German exchange student, Eva. As I tore through my cookbooks and files, I realized that I have quite the collection of personal recipes from friends and family. There were Argentinean cookies from a friend who I worked with more than 10 years ago, a Chai tea recipe from a college roommate, a cranberry chutney recipe from a dear friend who I haven’t seen in years and many more. It’s not surprising that I have come into so many recipes. I eagerly quiz people on their favorite dishes, family traditions and have no shame asking for recipes that intrigue me. But each recipe I bring home is more than just the anticipation of new food. I also bring home a part of that person who will always be in my thoughts when I make that dish.
It’s amazing how my collection of recipes connects me to people long after we have crossed paths and allows me to remember conversations and occasions that I might otherwise have forgotten. That’s why I love these Christmas cookies. These are from Eva’s family and are her favorite cookies that her Grandmother makes at Christmastime. This is the most cozy, rustic, beautiful recipe because… there is no recipe! Eva’s Grandmother makes these cookies from scratch and does not have the recipe written down. So for Eva to make them for us last Christmas, she had to translate over the phone from her Grandmother and then try to recreate them on her own. And for me to share these with you, I had to do my best to follow the recipe from that same note that Eva translated and left at our house.
These cookies are hearty and spicy and make you think of gingerbread houses and small German villages. I’m obsessed with them and have added them to the mandatory rotation of family Christmas cookies. Like all recipes, I followed Eva’s notes and then made some of my own adjustments like adding some salt and vanilla and brushing with a glaze. I also used a scale and followed the grams but you can do a conversion. I’m actually not sure if I did it the way Eva would ( I think she does something with sugar and honey instead of a vanilla glaze), but they tasted great, so that’s all that matters! Continue reading