Happy Holidays from Omaha!
Greetings and Happy Holidays! This is our first married Christmas. My new mother-in-law is the sweetest little woman on the planet and an amazing baker. One of her family favorites is her traditional Southern tea cakes. She grew up in Louisiana and her tea cakes are the real deal. If you’re unfamiliar with them, they're similar to big sugar cookies, but have a dreamy texture that is something between cake and cookie. I did a little research and they’re not only rich with butter, but in Southern tradition. Grandchildren learn how to make them at the knee of their grandmothers as they tell stories of family history. The simple ingredients mixed with storytelling create memories and amazing cookies. You can taste the love.
And so I thought I’d try baking them. I even put on an apron because I felt it would help if I dressed the part. I followed the recipe exactly, and they were good, but just not spot on. Adorable mother-in-law kindly gave me a few pointers and I tried again. Once again, they were yummy…but that one special “something” was missing. But what?
Then I realized it. It’s the stories. My cookies don’t have any stories.
So, this is our new family holiday tradition. I’ll bake the tea cakes and reminisce (no grandkids yet, so I’ll have to reminisce to Adorable Husband, our young adult kids or the cat) about our family story, including those of Adorable Mother-in-law.
As kids leave the nest and families grow, merge and change, it’s good to anchor down some new traditions you can count on. This is a keeper for us.
"Once again, they were yummy…but that one special “something” was missing. But what? Then I realized it. It’s the stories. My cookies don’t have any stories. Yet."
Here’s the recipe and I’m including several little drawings I’ve made since I think art and baking pair well together.
1 cup butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
3 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cream of tartar
Cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla. In a large bowl, mix together dry ingredients. Combine the two mixtures. Let dough sit for 5 - 10 minutes. Roll out the dough to 1/2" thickness and cut out into cookies using a 3" round cutter or drinking glass. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet at 375 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes. I used this time to snuggle our condo cat, The Wooks. After removing the tea cakes from oven, let sit on pan for 3 minutes before transferring to cooling rack. Makes about 2 dozen.
And may I suggest drinking a piping hot cup of Good Earth Sweet & Spicy tea with the tea cakes? My groovy neighbors Nina and Ray introduced me to it and it’s fabulous with the cakes.
Do you have a new holiday tradition? Leave a comment, please, and enjoy the spirit of the season!
THANK YOU and Merry Christmas!