Dec. 18 , 2006

Carrying on a tradition

By Ivan Raconteur
Staff Writer

For New Germany resident Shirley Jaeger, what was once an everyday family favorite has become a holiday tradition.

Jaeger makes seven or eight different kinds of cookies for Christmas, but “grandma’s icebox cookies” are the most popular.

Jaeger said that her mother’s mother, Emelia Hoese, made the cookies throughout the year, but for Jaeger, they have become a regular part of her holiday preparations.

They have been a favorite in her family for a long time. She remembers the times years ago, when the extended family would get together. There was always plenty of good food, but her grandmother’s cookies were special.

“We would always look around for grandma’s old-fashioned cookie tin,” Jaeger said.

Jaeger makes other kinds of cookies for Christmas as well, including chocolate crinkles, “thumb prints,” and spritz.

She said that she likes to mix up the cookie dough all at once, and put it in the refrigerator to be baked when she has time.

“They use a lot of the same ingredients, so you only have to take things out once, and this way, there is just one mess,” Jaeger commented.

Her daughter, Amy, never enjoyed baking cookies, but didn’t mind helping to mix up the ingredients.

Jaeger said she was surprised to learn, through a family survey, that one of Amy’s favorite Christmas memories was helping her mother make Christmas cookies.

Baking is a tradition in Jaeger’s family. She said her mother was always a good cook, and one of her traditions was to make Kuchen for Christmas Eve dinner. Her mother recently turned 82, and she is still carrying on the tradition.

Jaeger explained that Kuchen is German, and is made from a sweet dough, similar to what some people know as coffee cake. It is made in pie tins and allowed to rise several times.

Before it is baked, it is topped with butter, cinnamon, and sugar.

Raisins are optional, and Jaeger said her mother alternates using raisins or not each year to accommodate family preferences.

Jaeger said when she was growing up, Christmas Eve consisted of milking the cows, having Kuchen for dinner, and hurrying off to get to church by 7:30 p.m.

Jaeger has tried to make Kuchen, but it never turns out like her mother’s. She said her mother told her that you can’t make it by using a recipe, you tell what it needs by feeling the dough when you are kneading it.

Baking was not just a treat for Christmas in Jaeger’s family.

“Mom always made homemade bread on Saturdays, and that lasted for the whole week.

That fresh bread was dinner for us kids on Saturday nights,” Jaeger said.


from Shirley Jaeger, in Herald Journal 12/18/06

1 cup shortening

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 eggs

2-3/4 cup flour

1/2 tsp. soda

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. vanilla

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 cup chopped nuts

Shape into rolls, wrap in wax paper and let stand 24 hours. Slice thin, and bake at 400 degrees for 6-8 minutes. Sprinkle a little sugar on top to make them sweeter.

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