Childhood memories are such an amazing thing. As we sift though the timeline of life in our mind, it is so interesting to see how we remember events and seasons. My mom recently came for a visit and it is always so nostalgic to hear her tell the same old stories again. I always pick up on some little detail that I had remembered differently or had completely forgotten. But sometimes, memories are more than details and events. There is a feeling attached to those memories and when all the specifics have faded from view, I can still recall the emotions like it was yesterday.
Thanksgiving is done, and Christmas is just around the corner.
The smell of fresh baked butter & sugar and flour is filling the air and mom’s hands are busy rolling and sifting as puffs of powdered sugar fly all around her. She is working hard and teaching me as she goes and I soak up the feeling of holiday joy as we work.
I am sure my mom had extra stress over the holidays. I didn’t know it then, but money was tight and there were 5 kids to feed and clothe and presents were often home-made offerings that were many hours in the making.
The cookies pile high on the counter. There were Russian Tea Cakes, Chocolate Chip, Sugar Cookies and several others that would be neatly arranged on foil lined plates with a stick-on bow and passed out to neighbors and friends. That is the feeling I remember! My mom always demonstrated the joy of giving and I would grow up to discover the depths to which her generosity would flow!
I don’t remember the gifts I got for Christmas every year…. What I remember is the feeling that I had when we passed out plates of homemade cookies and the laughter we enjoyed as we made our nativity set from clay each year and the love that I felt from parents who where PRESENT. That gift stays longer than anything that can be wrapped and put under a tree.
So make memories!
And make Russian Tea Cakes!
This recipe is the one my mother made every year. It was passed down to her from my grandmother who got it from her mom who had this recipe tucked into her belongings when she came over on a ship from Germany. I don’t know where my great grandmother got it from and it doesn’t even matter anymore.
And it may look the same as other recipes that go by the same or different names. But to me, this one is special. It has been lovingly passed through the generations of hard working women who knew how to create holiday memories that would last a lifetime.
Today is my moms 75th Birthday. We live half a continent apart but when she recently visited, we made this old family favorite together so that I could take a few photos of her beautiful, memory-making hands as they rolled that powdered sugar over the warm cookies. I am so thankful for this amazing woman who, not only showed me the way around a kitchen, but taught me the value of hard work and generosity.
This is the stuff that Holiday Memories are made of!
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar + more for rolling
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2.5 cups flour
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 3/4 cup chopped walnuts (or nut of choice)
- Step 1 Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Step 2 Place butter, sugar & vanilla in mixing bowl and beat with electric mixer until smooth and fluffy.
- Step 3 Add flour & salt and mix to incorporate.
- Step 4 Add nuts mix well.
- Step 5 Shape into 1.5 inch balls and place on uncreased cookie sheet.
- Step 6 Bake at 400 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes (or until slightly beginning to brown)
- Step 7 Roll in powdered sugar while still hot.
- Step 8 Let them cool completely and then roll in powdered sugar again.