by Bettye R. Gibson
As the rainy, fall weather comes to Arkansas and to the rest of the South, I am drawn to the kitchen and to baking up treats for my family—you know, good food is Southern comfort in its original form. As holidays draw near, and as a good Southern cook knows, any excuse is a good excuse for sharing goodies with your loved ones.
I am reminded of the many fond memories I have baking sugar cookies with my two daughters as they grew up. We had such fun decorating these cookies with colored sugar sprinkles, red hots, colored bits of candy, icing, or whatever suited our culinary creativity. It was perfectly ok with us to end the cooking session with spilled colored sugars and flour everywhere, but mostly on us.
We were pleased with our cookie creations but had even more fun eating them. Now as both my daughters have daughters of their own, I see that they are carrying on the cookie making tradition. Because I have such warm memories of weekends in the kitchen and of remembering the wonderful smell of these cookies baking, I want to share the recipe with our southern cooks.
This recipe was given to me by a junior high home economics teacher friend of mine who is named Helen, but we all call her Johnnie. That’s another Southern tradition, I suppose. Go figure what it all means. Anyway, the cookies are called Deluxe Sugar Cookies, and they are just that–Deluxe and Delightful. Try a batch or two for yourself and create some warm memories with some learning to cook children, grandchildren, Sunday school children, or whomever you select.
Deluxe Sugar Cookies
2 sticks butter or margarine, softened
1 ½ cups powdered sugar
2 ½ cups plain flour
1 teaspoon almond flavoring
1 teaspoon vanilla flavoring
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
In a large mixing bowl (I use an electric mixer) cream butter and sugar together, add flavorings, soda, and cream of tartar. Add the egg and slowly begin adding the flour. Mix well after each addition of flour. When well mixed, form dough into a ball and wrap well with plastic wrap. Refrigerate several hours until well chilled. Overnight is even better.
Dough will keep several days, so make the dough one night in the middle of the week and have it well chilled for a weekend of baking. I always double the recipe so we have plenty of cookies to share with friends and neighbors.
After dough has chilled, divide into two or more batches and roll out with a rolling pin on a well floured sheet of waxed paper until about ¼ in thickness.
Cut into various shapes for any occasion; place cookies on a non-greased cookie sheet. It is ok to lightly spray cookie sheet with PAM or use sheets of parchment to line cookie sheet. Decorate with sprinkles, colored sugar, etc. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about ten minutes or until lightly brown.
Watch carefully to prevent burning. If one wishes, do not decorate cookies; wait until they cool and decorate with your favorite butter icing. Any way you do them, they are GOOD. Happy cookie making.
Another Southern tradition is serving pecan pie for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or for any fancy dinner. My family loves this version of pecan pie, and it should be renamed: Don’t Stay Around Long Pie.
1 pie crust lined 9 inch pie plate. (It is perfectly permissible to use a Pillsbury Refrigerated Pie Crust). Even my best friends think I make the crust from scratch!
¼ cup butter or margarine, melted
½ cup sugar
1 cup dark Karo corn syrup (blue label)
1 pinch salt (about 1/8 teaspoon)
1 teaspoon vanilla flavoring
3 whole large eggs
1 cup pecan halves (I prefer to chop the pecans—not too finely chopped)
Mix melted butter and sugar together well. Add Karo syrup, salt,and vanilla flavoring; beat well. Add eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly after each. Stir in pecans. Pour into unbaked pie crust. Bake at 350 degree oven about 50 minutes or until pie is set.
Don’t overbake as pie will continue to cook slightly after removing it from the oven. If crust starts browning too quickly, cover edges with foil or with one of those fancy metal rings, and continue cooking. Cool pie and then slice and see if you can eat just one piece. Hard to do for sure.
Suggestions: Serve with a scoop of real whipped cream or your favorite vanilla ice cream. I personally think this pecan pie doesn’t need anything on top. It is wonderful by itself. Please the family and make two pies at one time.
Bettye wirtes: “I am a l959 graduate of Cleveland (Mississippi) High School, graduated from Delta State in l963 with a B.A. degree in History and English, and received a Master’s in history from DSU in l968. I am married to Garland Gibson, a graduate of Cleveland High School and DSU. He is a banker, and I retired in 2000 from the Jonesboro School System after 30 years of teaching (34 years total). I presently teach American history, American Government, and World History classes for Arkansas State University. So much for retirement. We have two daughters and two GRAND daughters and one GRAND son. Cooking has always been a real love for me, and I jokingly tell my friends I was named for Betty Crocker!”
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