Callie’s Cabin: Winter Wonderland Cookies at home (Column)
Two weeks ago, I finally got up the nerve and flew to Anchorage, Alaska. It was my fantasy to eat Alaskan salmon, see tons of snow, a moose, and the Northern Lights.
Well, en route I experienced hurricane-force winds, rough air with the threat of being diverted to Fairbanks. Once landed, I was greeted with no snow in Anchorage, fog with zero visibility, the warmest day since 1952, icy roads, five hours of daylight, and thanks to the cloud cover, no amazing green lights in the sky.
Oh, and in December, I discovered fresh citrus, gourmet coffee, organic milk and other real food are AWOL.
Once home on the South Shore, I made a run to our friendly Safeway. I stocked my kitchen with tons of fresh oranges, grapefruits, coffee, and organic milk.
Happiness is savoring real food we take for granted and is not available to Alaskans in the wintertime. (Note: Reindeer sausages are on their menus.)
Waking up to a breathtaking Lake Tahoe sunrise (who needs Northern Lights?), fresh snow on our towering pine trees, and a large cup of Joe with real milk, I was motivated to whip up a batch of my favorite Christmas cookies. And yep, I included fresh lemon juice and California walnuts.
Winter Wonderland Cookies
1 stick European style butter, softened
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar (about 1/2 cup extra for rolling after baked)
1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
2 capfuls pure vanilla extract
1 lemon, juice from it
1/4-1/2 cup nuts (walnuts or pecans), rough chop or pulse in blender
In a bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add flour and mix until creamy. Stir in vanilla and lemon juice. Fold in nuts. Place cookie dough on a floured cutting board and roll into a ball. Put onto a sheet of foil and into the refrigerator for about 20 minutes. Take out, place on a cutting board. Use a small ice cream scoop (about 1/8 cup size) and scoop dough into balls. Roll into a ball shape and place on nonstick cookie sheet or lined with parchment paper.
Bake cookies in a 350-degree oven for 12 minutes or until bottom of cookies are light brown. Do not over bake. Place balls into sugar immediately. After cooled repeat. Makes 8-10. You can double the recipe as well as freeze the cookies in an airtight container.
Note: Simple is elegant like silver balls on a Christmas tree. However, if you to be more festive, add 1-2 teaspoons orange rind to cookie dough and/or sprinkle cinnamon on top after the cookies are rolled in sugar to give it a snickerdoodle taste.
This quick and easy recipe is easy and they’re homemade flavorful. The tang of real lemon juice and crunch of nuts are like a burst of holiday sweetness in every bite. Also, two will fill you up and not out.
Pair with a cup of coffee or tea. These little Tahoe-ish cookies are a big sign and reminder to me that you do not have to travel thousands of miles to find paradise. We have a winter wonderland right here at home.
Cal Orey, M.A. Is an author and journalist. Her books include the Healing Powers Series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate, Honey, Coffee, Tea, Superfoods, and Essential Oils) published by Kensington. Her website is http://www.calorey.com.