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FRESH and Festive: Make a Memory For Your Family’s Future

Are your pumpkins too pooped to party right now? Does your turkey say “blah, blah” rather than “gobble, gobble?”  Not a lot of Feliz in your Navidad?  Let’s face it…getting ready for the holidays can leave you stressed out and in anything but a festive mood.  If looking ahead leaves you drained, then maybe it is time to look back.  Get an old photo album off the shelf and take a step back in time.

Some of the most wonderful memories I carry in my heart are from when I was a little boy.  I grew up on a farm. We didn’t have much money, but we were millionaires in the important things.  We spent time together, we did things together.  We didn’t have cell phones or Xbox—heck we had a black and white TV that got two channels and they still played the National Anthem at midnight.  Of course we also said the Pledge of Allegiance before school started and it was OK to pray before football games.

The reason I’m bringing that up isn’t to say something political.  It is, however, an attempt to make a statement.  Especially around the holidays, it is more important than ever for families to spend time together.  I’m not suggesting you cut strips of colored paper and turn them into rings which you turn into chains so you can decorate your tree like Charlie Brown.  But there are fun things, meaningful things you can do together, and those things could become your most precious family memories.

My friends the Watsons at Lake Palestine have made cookies with their grandkids since the kids were old enough to sit in a chair by themselves. Granted, they ate the flour and smeared the peanut butter in their hair.  But they did it together.  It didn’t matter that they ate half of an M&M before pressing it into the cookie.  In the 10 years I have known them, I have never gone to their house and not found a container of cookies on the counter.

Ginger in any form is one of my absolute favorite ingredients.  Here’s a recipe using ginger and orange for holiday cookies.  Make them together and make a memory.

Orange Ginger Cookies
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour (I substitute whole wheat)
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp grated Orange Zest
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp Kosher Salt
1 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup molasses
1 egg, room temperature
1 1/4 cups crystallized ginger
Icing sugar for pressing the cookies (gives them a crunch and sparkle)

Preheat oven to 350° F. Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger and combine the mixture with your hands.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the brown sugar, oil, molasses and orange zest on medium for 5 minutes.  Turn the mixer to low, add the egg and beat for 1 more minute.  Scrape the bowl and beat again.  Slowly add dry ingredients and mix for 2 minutes.  Add the crystallized ginger.

Scoop the dough with a small portion scoop.  Roll each cookie in your hands into a 1 ¾ inch ball and flatten them slightly.  Press both sides of the cookies into the sugar and place them on the sheet pans.  Bake for exactly 13 minutes.  Let the cookies cool 1 or 2 minutes then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.  Makes about 16 cookies.