Thursday, December 26, 2019

Only the trees work...

The dies for the cookie press in the handy stand my father
made to hold them.
Spritz cookies have been a Christmas tradition in my house as long as I can remember, pressed out of a bronze-colored cookie press. I loved looking at the dies when I was young, wondering what shapes each would make. My mother always made Christmas trees and wreaths, but what I wanted to try was the camel.

"No," she would say, "the camel doesn't work. Trees and wreaths." And so we made wreaths with cinnamon holly berries and  trees sprinkled with green sugar and colorful nonpareils as ornaments. (In those days a silver dragée star was placed on top of the trees, but the combination of  my more minimalist Christmas tendencies and the end of the semester exhaustion has led me to abandon that part of the tradition.)

Before we sold my parents' house this summer, we packed up what people wanted from the kitchen. What did I want? Not the Kitchen Aid mixer, but the camel die for the cookie press!  Because I was going to make those camels I'd desired all these years. So I put the handy stand my dad had made to hold the dies (a miniature version of what he used to hold his radial arm saw blades) in one of the boxes I was shipping home

Fast forward to Christmas Eve morning. Crash was arriving from DC and was down for cookie baking, spritz on the list. I made the dough and dug out the cookie press, put the camel die in and...a shapeless blob of dough appeared on the sheet. Three tries later... Ok, maybe using my mother's press was sweet and nostalgic, but not practical. Switched the die and loaded my cookie press. Nope, nope nope. Maybe I should chill the dough. No go. Different cookie sheet? No. Cookie sheet too warm? too cold? Is this sounding like a Bon Appetit video? Finally, I tried the tree. Boom, two dozen trees appeared on the tray.

The camel doesn't work.


  1. I followed this link to here. (REVMARYAUSTIN)
    Such a lovely story. Parents leave us with so much. Mom and I still make spritz cookies and yes the trees work best.
    What struck me today was the handy stand that your dad made to hold the dies. We are in the process of renovating his house to sell and what I packed from his estate was the woodworking tools we used for so many years after he retired to build birdhouses.

  2. Love this story! Happy New Year!

    Also, I know that it is still Christmastide, but I am looking forward to your book of reflections for Lent!

    1. Happy New Year! And yes, it'll be Lent before we know it.