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That Christmas Spirit

December 19, 2011

Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. I sat and listened while I ate a slice of apple pie, remembering the sweet potato pie my neighbor Mrs. Roesler brought over about this time last year. It was the best pie, a bit lumpy and kind of spicy with a brown sugary edge just before the crust. She did it every year -- baked a dozen of something and took it to all the neighbors just before Christmas. It was very thoughtful, really, all that work and then it disappeared.

But not really. She brought me a pie, but she also made me feel kind of special. It was so out of the blue. I was mixing up reindeer balls and there she was at the door, still wearing her apron and comfortable shoes, with a pie in her hand and a smile on her wrinkled face. She looked like an elf, or an ad for a bake fest. "Merry Christmas, Mrs. Sundberg, and a Happy New Year to you and to yours." She handed me the pie and before I could speak she'd made her way down the steps and was halfway to her car. "Merry Christmas, Mrs. Roesler!" She didn't look back, just raised her right hand and waved. She was on a mission.

She died on Christmas morning. They found her on the kitchen floor, sitting with her back up against the cupboards, her silver hair drawn up in a bun, her head turned to the left. She was wearing an apron and there was a wooden spoon in her hand, and she was smiling. They said she just died of natural causes, right there in her kitchen. There was sweet potato pie served at her funeral. She had no family, but everyone from the neighborhood was there, on New Year's Day.

The small things one does in a day really are what make a life. I miss that woman. That Christmas Spirit. May heaven have a kitchen, and a drawer full of aprons just her size.

I have a favorite spritz recipe, but it's nice to have a backup, something a little different. This cookie is remarkably light and flavorful.

Cream Cheesy Spritz

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
1-1/4 cups sugar
1 egg yolk
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 tsp. pure almond extract
1 T butterscotch schnapps
2-1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350°F. Cream together butter and cream cheese; add sugar.

Cream mixture until light and fluffy. Add egg yolk, beat well; stir in flavorings. On low speed, gradually add flour and salt.

Cookie dough will be soft and somewhat sticky; if too sticky, adjust by adding a tablespoon of flour at a time; if dough too stiff, add a tablespoon of milk at a time.

Fill cookie press and press cookies onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Sprinkle with colored sugars or color dough with a few drops of food coloring to make festively colored cookies.

Bake for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned. Store in airtight container. Freeze if keeping for more than 2 weeks.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

Enjoy!

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