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Finding peace in holiday baking

Anna Miller involves children in making family recipes

December 18, 2017
By DAWN BLISS - Farm News staff writer (ms.dawn.thompson@gmail.com) , Farm News

By DAWN BLISS

ms.dawn.thompson@gmail.com

CHURDAN - Getting caught in the rush of the sights, sounds and tastes of the holiday season can sometimes be stressful, but for Anna Miller taking the time to bake familiar, family-favorite Christmas cookies is the way she finds a bit of peace.

"I just really enjoy cooking and baking," she said. "It's kind of my wind-down time when I come home from work."

Miller is a special education teacher with the Paton-Churdan Community Schools. She works with K-12 students to improve reading and math skills, as well as serving as a staff advisor for an exploratory period at the school during which students can independently try different recipes and cooking methods.

"It can easily get overwhelming with all the events and demands of the season added to a full-time job," she said, "but I try to do a lot of baking on weekends when I am home. And I try to plan and prepare what I can ahead of time."

Two of the five or six different cookie varieties Miller prepares as treats for the holidays are Grandma Carrick's waffle iron cookies and Edith's sugar cookies. Both have stories and memories attached.

The chocolate waffle iron cookies come from Miller's husband, David Miller's, side of the family. They are his grandmother's recipe.

"He said she always brought an ice cream bucket full for every birthday," Anna Miller said, "and I can imagine she made them by the bucketfull for the holidays, too."

The other recipe comes from Anna Miller's own childhood. She grew up next door to a woman named Edith who always seemed to have homemade cookies on hand for visitors, among them were sugar cookies. Making those same sugar cookies now not only brings back happy memories for Miller, it also gives her daughter a chance to be a part of the experience.

"They are easy for her to help me with," Miller said. "She can smash them down and sprinkle the sugar on."

Miller said she tries to involve both her daughter, Holly, 7, and her son, Hayden, 5, in cooking and baking as much as she can. From allowing them to pile toppings on their own individual pizzas to cracking eggs to go into batter, the children assist in a variety of ways.

"I like mixing the frosting with the spatula," Holly Miller said, "cause then I get to lick it off."

Anna Miller first developed her interest in baking as a child by helping her mother. She said she used to decorate the cut-out sugar cookies her mom made, and when her mother made pies, she let Miller trim the crust. They also made a lot of popcorn balls together.

"I've been baking since I was young," Miller said. "It's something I've always been drawn to. I started with brownie mix in a box and my family would tell me how good they were. They even got me an Easy-Bake Oven when I was little. They just really encouraged me and kept me going."

As she got older, Miller added to her repertoire through trial and error and watching a lot of cooking shows. She is also a volunteer field editor for A Taste of Home and recently had a recipe published in Simple & Delicious Magazine.

Each year, she makes Christmas cookies for family, friends and co-workers, as well as make up trays and gift boxes for her children's teachers. She also makes sure to make Holly's favorite, chocolate chocolate chip, and Hayden's favorite, regular chocolate chip.

Grandma Carrick's waffle iron cookies

Makes 4 dozen

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 cup shortening

4 eggs

4 tablespoon cocoa

2 cups flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon maple flavoring

Frosting

4 tablespoon cocoa

1 1/2 cup powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

3 tablespoons butter

4 tablespoons water

Heat waffle iron on high. Mix batter. Drop by spoonful on each section of waffle iron. Bake for two minutes. Front when cool.

Edith's sugar cookies

Makes 3 to 4 dozen

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Ingredients

1 cup shortening

1 cup sugar

1 egg

3/4 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/4 teaspoon salt

Cream shortening and sugar. Add egg and vanilla and beat well. Add dry ingredients. Roll into balls and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Smash with a glass dipped in sugar. Bake at 350 degrees for about 11 minutes or until lightly browned.

 
 

 

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