A Letter From Grandma Karen

Something happens when you walk your dog every day on the same streets.

You make friends.

Two of those friends; Stacy and his wife Melody, gave me a bag of some of the cookies that Mel had brought home from her family cookie swap.  Each and every one was delicious.

So, of course, I asked for recipes.    

Yesterday, Mel gave me a turquoise blue envelope.  Inside was six pages of paper from her Grandma Karen, including the recipes for three cookies. 

 Gentle Reader, this week’s essay are excerpts of the letter she wrote, her peanut butter cookie recipe and her snickerdoodle recipe (possibly the best snickerdoodle I’ve ever eaten).

What follows is in her own words and her own recipes.

“I have made cookies, breads, cakes, candy, etc for friends and neighbors, the sick, and to welcome a new neighbor to the neighborhood for most of my life, and I wanted to share this with my children and grandchildren.

I tried to think of something we could all do and have some quality time together.  We all like to cook and bake.  I decided it might be fun to get together at Christmas time and make cookies.  I called my daughter and granddaughters, and they agreed.

This will be our 5th year.  I hosted the first one.  I bought each one a Santa hat and a Christmas wine glass.  Bought non-alcoholic sparkling juice cocktail, red and white.  Other small gifts were Christmas aprons, reindeer headdresses, etc. 

We take turns hosting.

Here’s how it works: Each of us has to make at least a dozen cookies of each recipe we make so each person goes home with the same amount of the assortment of cookies.

PS-I dress up like Mrs. Santa Claus to deliver my goodies.”

*debbie here again: Coming from decades of my mom’s Christmas cookie frosting parties, I have a few thoughts about Grandma Karen’s much younger tradition. 

It doesn’t sound like there’s an annual dance and arm wrestling over how many cookies we’re allowed to leave with.  I like that.

And although we eat Mexican food at Mom’s party, I gotta say, I feel strongly that we should definitely up the swag quotient at our own festivities.

The Matthews Family Band at the 2019 cookie frosting party.

And finally, I know this is mid-January, and Christmas is over with a capital “O”, but the reason you’re reading it this week is that I think a cookie swap is a terrific idea for a party any day of the year.

In 2020, let’s make a cookie swap the new book club.  Keep reading, but book clubs are tired.  Use Karen’s parties as a template, just swap out her sparkling juice for the real thing.

Then go home in an Uber.

Thanks for your time.

Contact debbie at d@bullcity.mom.

Peanut Butter Cookies

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup white sugar

1 cup peanut butter

1 cup shortening (Crisco)

2 eggs

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 ½ cups flour

Preheat oven to 350°.  Cream sugars and shortening.  Add eggs, peanut butter, vanilla, flour, and baking soda.

Roll into balls, press with a fork.  Bake on parchment-covered cookie sheet for 12-15 minutes.


½ cup shortening (Crisco)

½ cup butter

1 ½ cups sugar

2 eggs

2 ¾ cups flour

2 teaspoons cream of tartar

1 teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

Cinnamon-sugar for rolling

2 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400°.

Mix shortening, butter, and eggs, thoroughly.  Blend flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, salt.  Mix with shortening/butter/sugar/eggs mixture.

Shape into 1-inch balls.  Roll into cinnamon/sugar.  Place 2-inches apart on parchment-covered baking sheet.

Bake 8-10 minutes.  Makes about 6 dozen.

*While baking, these cookies will puff up, then flatten out.

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