Saturday, December 19, 2009

Weekend Cooking-- Christmas in the Kitchen

Weekend Cooking is a fun food-related meme hosted by Candace of Beth Fish Reads. Click on the logo above to be taken to her blog so you can sample the goodies that are being shared by everyone.

One thing that Weekend Cooking has made me realize is just how many memories I have that feature food. Of course Christmas time is not exempt! At one time I decorated every room in the house for Christmas with the exception of the closets. The "public" rooms, the bedrooms, the bathrooms-- all gussied up for the holidays. I normally decorate thirteen trees of various sizes. (Thirteen is my lucky number.) You can see my Christmas forest in the living room at the top of this page.

One of the things I thought I'd do this weekend is show you how I've decorated my kitchen. (You can click on any of the photos to view them full size.) In this picture you can see that I'm a bit fond of snowmen and teapots, and that I have Christmas mugs and cups, and a special set of Christmas dinnerware. I'm a bit of an anomaly in my family. I come from a long line of farm people, and food always took precedence on any holiday table. But once I began doing my own decorating, it didn't take me long to discover that, not only did I want plenty of food, I wanted everything to look festive, too.

When I began to go hog wild with Christmas trees, I wanted to have a tree in the kitchen, but it wasn't until manufacturers came out with "skinny" trees that I could actually have one.

The tree you see to the right is filled with kitchen ornaments: miniature utensils, teapots, copper pots and pans, and more, and it's topped by chopsticks. Instead of the normal garland, I made sprays using colorful ric-rac that I found in boxes of my grandmother's sewing notions.

As I was growing up, food was always an important part of Christmas, and cookies were always a highlight. (How do you like my favorite cookie jar over there to the left?) As a rule, we didn't go in for fancy cookies. We're not fancy people. There weren't any tiny little perfect circles with drops of jam in the center, or anything remotely like that. All the cookies my grandmother and mother baked were "man-sized" cookies-- and they were all delicious.

The Christmas I was five is very vivid in my mind. We were at my grandparents' house. Supper was over, the dishes washed and put away. Grampa was in the living room watching the news. It was time to bake cookies, and for the first time I was going to help!

I measured out cups of chocolate chips, got butter and eggs from the refrigerator, sifted flour (without getting too much on myself), and got to spoon out the batter onto the cookie sheets. It wasn't long before the kitchen smelled like chocolate chip cookies, and even though Grampa bribed me to bring him a never-ending supply, my grandmother and mother soon set him straight.

The evening became magical when we started to make sugar cookies. As I've said before, my family came from farms outside of town. The women didn't make fancy cookies, and they certainly didn't go out of their way to decorate any of them. As good as those cookies were, they didn't have a long shelf life. But for some reason, this night was different.

Mom had made a special trip to the grocery store for decorating supplies. When those sugar cookies had come out of the oven and cooled enough to work with, my grandmother and mother began to decorate them. "Joe the Bartender" had a handlebar mustache and black hair parted in the middle and slicked back. Each cookie representing a barbershop quartet was an individual little person. One cookie that was smaller than all the rest was Shirley Temple with curls and a hairbow. The more those two decorated cookies, the more their imaginations ran wild, and to this day, I can still feel my eyes growing as big around as silver dollars as I got to look at each new masterpiece.

The true masterpieces in the kitchen that night were the cooks. They made an evening's baking a very magical experience for a little girl. When I decorate my kitchen for Christmas, it's to honor them.


  1. I love snowmen too and I love, love, love your kitchen decorations. The ornaments on your tree, your mugs, your cookie jar. Everything is so homey and festive.

    Thanks too for sharing your story about the decorated cookies. What a wonderful memory.

  2. I must agree...what wonderful memories!

    As I sit here, looking at my lone, nekked Christmas tree, just dragged into the house yesterday, your example is motivating me.
    Just not quite enough to actually get

  3. Your Christmas looks so festive! I feel like such a scrooge in comparison.

    Isn't it funny how so many of our holiday memories revolve around food?

  4. Hi Cathy,
    I love your Christmas Kitchen!! It's awesome! I also loved your story of the cookie makers in your family. Such memories to have are precious. Thanks for sharing. Have a great weekend!

    Sherrie's Stuff

  5. I love all the decorations - but especially the "skinny" tree with the kitchen ornaments. So perfect!

  6. Another touching personal story - I love it. I see where you get your artistic talent. Those decorated cookies do indeed sound magical. What a great heritage you have.

  7. What a festive house...and I loved you sharing the memories. I hope I'm making these with my nieces!

  8. Beth-- Those were the first and only cookies those two made that no one wanted to eat because they were too "pretty"! LOL

    Caite-- I understand completely! :)

    Kathy-- Perhaps it's because those were the times when very special (and memorable) foods were prepared? I'm not sure.

    Sherrie-- Have a wonderful holiday. Thanks for stopping by!

    Molly-- You should've seen me agonizing over what sort of tree topper to have on that thing! LOL

    Margot-- It's easy to be a "character" when you're descended from long lines of 'em! LOL

    Jill-- I'm sure you are! :)

  9. I have said it before but have to say it again: who else could make me enjoy a post about cooking or baking? Beautiful pictures LOL

  10. Dorte-- Your praise makes me smile. I imagine Beth is still in shock that I'm participating! LOL


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