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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

.Fir Trees and Christmas Cookies

Please welcome my guest, Nancy Adams, a freelance editor and theological librarian who writes mysteries and fantasy. She is the author of Winds from the East, an as-yet unpublished novel set in Fourth Century Rom, and her short story, “The Secret of the Red Mullet” is included in the Guppy anthology, Fish Tales. Her latest work is a short Christmas tale, "Saint Nick and the Fir Tree." Here’s Nancy:

 It's the day after Christmas and Saint Nick's on vacation. What does he eat?

 In my short story, Saint Nick and his new friend the Tree go out on the town, first taking in a movie (Miracle on Thirty-Fourth Street, the original version, of course), then hitting the local diner. But we never find out what Nick orders, whether he's vegetarian or not, or anything else about his food preferences because the reader's attention is focused on his friend. Woe and alas, there's nothing on the menu the Tree can eat.

 Fortunately Nick has given the Tree a flask of Ent draft. It's what the Ents, the benevolent treelike giants in The Lord of the Rings, gave to their hobbit guests.

 For those of us who are human, however, there's plenty on the menu to choose from, especially this time of year. As Christmas rolls around, I remember with special fondness the beautifully decorated cookies my Aunt Charlotte made, and continues to make. I looked forward to them every year. Fortunately, I was able to give her a call and get this wonderful recipe.

 Aunt Charlotte's Christmas Cookies

 1 cup Oleo (that's always what Mother and my aunts called margarine)
2 cups brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon coconut flavoring (very important)
3 eggs
Mix well

Sift and add gradually:

4 cups flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon soda
½ teaspoon cream of tartar

Flatten out into a pancake and if you wish divide into four parts, so you can roll out just a batch or so at a time.

Place in covered container(s) and chill in refrigerator.

When I talked to my aunt, she said that when she divides it into 4 parts, she stores each part on a paper plate while it's being chilled. I imagine waxed paper would work, too.

Roll on floured board

Cut out with cookie cutters

Bake at 350o  F for 8 minutes or until brown.

Watch cookies to make sure none burn. Charlotte said they burn easily, and if the cookie shapes are different sizes it can get tricky.


1 stick of regular margarine (not the soft kind)   Leave it out of refrigerator, so that it will be soft.
Then add 1-1/2 cups powdered sugar and cream the mixture. Then add 3/4 tsp vanilla extract.

If the frosting is too thin, add more sugar.  If too thick, add water or rice milk.

Then, of course, the food coloring. Aunt Charlotte always made the traditional shapes: Christmas trees, Santa with his beard, candy canes, etc. The most unusual of her Christmas cookies were little blue churches with white trim. Everything she does is always perfect in every small detail. My sister is like that, too. They both have a natural knack for those homey little details.

Me? I'm like my mother--I'd rather eat cookies than bake them. But I do enjoy cooking up stories. "Saint Nick and the Fir Tree" may be served as an e-book or paperback, according to your taste. Links are on my website:


  1. Cute cover for your short story, Nancy. One of our family recipes is for a thin sugar cookie called Sand Tarts. I made half the recipe this year and put the dough aside because making them is quite a chore. The next week, I found time to roll the dough, cut them out, decorate and bake them. I was surprised when I finished two hours later. It wasn't as bad a chore as I remembered, that is until I went into the garage, opened our deep-freeze freezer and found the bag with the other half of the dough. I forgot that I put half in the refrigerator and put the other half in the freezer. Was't too bad--since I only made a quarter batch! Have a great Christmas Nancy and Judy.

  2. What a funny story, E.B.! That's great.

    Yes, it is quite a chore. I made them once, about ten years ago, and haven't had the energy to tackle them since.

    That was before she told me the trick about dividing the dough--and if I do that, I bet I'd end up with the same result as you: a bag hidden away in the freezer. (and with me, it might stay hidden under well after Christmas!)

    Thanks for your nice comment about the cover. I was so lucky to "meet" my cover artist, Carrie Spencer, through an online class. If anyone's interested, her website's

  3. Thanks, Janie! I'll pass that on to my aunt.