Posts Tagged ‘St. Nicholas’

Warm Hands and Cookie Traditions

December 7, 2018

The colorblock hand warmers (Purl Soho pattern, Shibui Staccato yarn) are off the needles, blocked, and ready for…whom? I don’t know.

I made them because I fell in love with the yarn while treating myself to a gift certificate purchase  (thanks, Jill!) at the amazing Gather Here in Somerville.


I’m not thrilled with the thumb hole. To be precise, I’m not thrilled that there’s just a hole and not an actual thumb covering. It gets mighty cold here in the Boston area, and having your thumbs exposed just isn’t that practical. But they look lovely, so perhaps, as my grandmother used to say, “your pride will keep you warm.”

Yesterday was the Feast of St. Nicholas, and as is tradition in my family, the day was marked with cookies. In each of my siblings homes, from Alexandria, VA to Boston, these thin, crisp, spiced treats were rolled, sliced, baked, and enjoyed.


I’ve mailed some to Kevin and Michael, sustenance for their upcoming final exams. And I’ve tucked a few away for Hannah, who will be home for a couple of days next week. If you’d like the recipe, you’ll find it on my¬†December 6 post from a few years ago.

What are some of your winter holiday traditions (baked and otherwise)?





Pardon the Interruption

December 6, 2013

We (that’s the royal “we”) interrupt the usual knitting stuff for a brief baking interlude.

I’ve written before about the pre-Christmas traditions in my home — the Advent wreath on the table, lights in the windows, the creche above the fireplace, the Advent calendars (usually two) that hang in the kitchen, and baking St. Nicholas cookies for December 6, the Feast of Saint Nicholas.

I won’t repeat myself on all those details, but I will provide the recipe and some tips for making this yummy cookies. They have a somewhat adult flavor — sort of spicy and not-too-sweet. Flavors are cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, anise, and ginger.


Young children tend not to enjoy them, which is just fine as far as I’m concerned because it means there are more for me!

My recipe card, copied from my Mom’s recipe, has a few splatters, as any well-loved recipe should.


Sift together:
3 c flour
4 t baking powder
1 T cinnamon
1 t EACH ground cloves and nutmeg
1/2 t EACH ground ginger, salt, and ground anise seed (I use a coffee grinder or mortar & pestle. You could skip the anise and they’d likely be delicious, just not quite the same)

Beat 1 c butter, 1 1/2 c brown sugar together until fluffy.
Stir in 3 T milk, dark rum or brandy.
Add flour & spice mixture, mix well, and form into ball. Don’t worry if the dough looks a bit dry here. When you pick it up and form a ball, it’ll come together nicely.

Grab a big handful of dough and knead it between your hands briefly until it forms a ball (but not so long that the warmth of your hands makes it sticky).

Roll out onto floured counter until approx. 1/4″ thick. I don’t measure but estimate that my rolled dough is a bit less than 1/4″ thick. Don’t worry about making a particular shape with the dough — a quasi-rectangle is just fine since you’ll cut the rough edges.


Cut the rolled dough into strips that are approximately 1/2″ – 1″ wide. Then cut each strip into a length that’s somewhere between 2″ and 5″. You needn’t be precise — it’s not a beauty contest and there are no cookie police. Save the scraps that you’ve cut from the rough edges and use those in the next ball that you roll out.


Place onto lightly greased/non-stick cookie sheet (or use parchment paper).
Brush with lightly beaten egg white. (I’ve been known to skip/forget this step, which results in an ever-so-slightly more dry cookie).

Bake in 375 degree oven for 9-12 minutes. Since the cooking time depends on how thin you’ve rolled the dough, I recommend checking at 9 minutes and then every minute or so after. Take them out when they’re more-than-golden but not yet dark brown.


Cool on a rack and enjoy. I love them dipped into a mug of tea or a glass of cold milk.

If you make them, let me know how they turned out.

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