Recently I read an article about the transitions in food over the years, and how it could be seen through cookbooks. They were able to pinpoint when people started using processed foods and microwaves within a few years by the number of casseroles. I couldn't help but think if we looked at group cookbooks now, they'd probably have a lot of crockpot soups and freezer meals. I certainly don't think there's anything wrong with that, but I just found it quite interesting. And this morning as I was thinking through my favorite Christmas goodies over the years, I was a little surprised to realize it follows the trend as well.
Growing up, making Russian TeaCake Cookies was one of my favorite Christmas baking events. They're really not Russian, and ours were always more cake-like (in hindsight, I'm wondering if Mom simply wanted the process to end and intentionally rolled the dough out thicker than required, of if she just really liked them fat and cakey). I loved eating the dough (a big no-no today that I think is a bunch of nonsense), loved using cookie cutters, but I really wasn't all that crazy about the finished product...unless we were allowed to put icing on them. And then they were incredibly good. We also had homemade apple pies (many people call them flapjacks) that were folded in half. Perfect for a child's hand, but still so big that Mom made us split them. We had instant oatmeal chocolate cookies, "No Bakes" my Granny Rea called them, and Hawaiian Pie on Christmas day (all kinds of fruit with pudding and cool whip and sweetened condensed milk on a graham cracker crust) and fudge.
And then my middle school years rolled around. Mom was working and wrestling with the beginning symptoms of her lupus and arthritis (neither of which received a diagnosis until 20+ years later). Goodies became brownies (from mixes, not the homemade kind we used to make), Ritz cracker peanut butter sandwiches dipped in chocolate, chocolate dipped pretzels, chocolate chip cookies, and fudge.
High school was much of the same as middle school, except we girls started experimenting, and peanut butter balls, sausage balls, and Martha Washington candy got added to the mix.
I don't fix a whole lot of Christmas goodies anymore. It's just the two of us, and I think that's one of the things I miss about having my family with me for the holidays. Granted, even if I lived nearby, they'd be doing things with their families so it still wouldn't be the same. I try to make some of our favorites when we have a party or have someone over so we have plenty to share and still have a little bit here at home. And one of my goals while I'm home at Christmas is to master the art of mini apple pies. A friend of mine posted a video on Facebook that made it look so much easier than how my Mom always did it, and I am so tempted to try it. If it works, I'll be sharing and I might be starting a new trend!