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September Thoughts of Summer (and a Recipe)

September 5, 2013

September Thoughts of Summer(and a Recipe)

by Alice Jane-Marie Massa

For many of us, Labor Day marks the turning point when summer drifts into autumn. During these “in-between” weeks before the official first day of autumn, I like to hold onto summer as long as possible. As the warm days become shorter, I have been thinking of past summers. One of my pleasant summer memories focuses on my Aunt Lydia, one of my mother’s older sisters.

Of my six aunts who have blessed my life, only my Aunt Lydia did not work outside her home. Living on the farm throughout her married life, Aunt Lydia was always busy as a farmer’s wife and mother of three children; nevertheless, I remember that each time we went to the farm for a summer’s day or evening visit, she welcomed us with a big glass pitcher of homemade lemonade, in which were floating lemon halves, whose juice and pulp had been squeezed away to make one of my favorite summer beverages. Additionally, Aunt Lydia always had a cookie jar filled with homemade sugar cookies—which , I thought, made the trip to the farm worthwhile. Yes, we could see the farmland, chickens, pigs, cattle,; we could sit on the swing or gather around the kitchen table. We could enjoy the sharing of news and laughter or play cards; however, her special cookies were a highlight of the visit—a wonderful and memorable treat.

Although I have made my Aunt Lydia’s Sugar Cookies recipe more times than I could count and although they always turned out very well, the cookies that I made never quite tasted the same as hers. To honor the memory of my dear Aunt Lydia—who was born on August 9, 1912, and died on March 2, 2006—I share with you her basic, versatile, and delicious recipe.

Aunt Lydia’s Sugar Cookies

1. Preheat oven to 375 or 400 degrees.

2. Cream together one-fourth cup shortening, one-fourth cup softened (or, my preference, melted) margarine, and three-fourths cup sugar.

3. Add one egg, one tablespoon milk, and one-half or one teaspoon vanilla to creamed mixture. (Variations: You may substitute almond extract, peppermint extract, anise extract, or other flavorings for the vanilla.)

4. Gradually add one and three-fourths cups flour, three-fourths teaspoon cream of tartar, three-fourths teaspoon baking soda, and one-fourth teaspoon salt.

5. Using a tablespoon of dough, roll dough into a ball (about the size of a walnut) and place on an ungreased baking sheet.

6. After balls of dough are evenly spaced on the cookie sheet, use a fork to create a
criss-cross pattern on each ball of dough to result in a slightly flattened shape.

7. Bake at 375 to 400 degrees for eight to ten minutes (until edges are slightly browned).

8. After removing the cookie sheet from the oven, let the cookies stand on the baking sheet for one to two minutes until cookies are no longer soft; then, move the cookies to a flat tray. Enjoy!

Holiday variation: Instead of rolling each tablespoon of dough into a ball, roll each ball of dough into a four-inch log. After placing each log on an ungreased baking sheet, gently turn one end to form a candy cane. Brush each candy cane with milk; then, top with red sprinkles. Bake as noted above. Jolly Holidays!

Post-script: Thanks to my sister who double-checked this recipe for me.

Happy baking!

September 5, 2013, Thursday


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  1. When my brother and I were kids, we had cookie cutters, and when my mother made sugar cookies, we used them to cut the dough into various holiday shapes: bells, sleighs, snowflakes, etc. To me, that was more fun than eating the cookies.

  2. I also have fond memories of our visits to Aunt Lydia’s farm, Alice. I clearly remember as a little girl asking our mother if I could have a piece of fruit from Aunt Lydia’s fruit bowl, which was always on her dining room table. What a surprise to learn that the fruit was wax! It certainly looked good enough to eat to me.
    Love, Mary

  3. Thanks for the recipe and memories, Alice and Mary! 🙂

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