One of our alternate “Thoroughbroads” started a tradition during the holiday season we all looked forward to each year…a cookie exchange. Yes, you have heard of them, but Diane’s were exceptional every year. Each guest baked 13 dozen cookies, 12 to share with others invited to the exchange and one dozen to munch on at the party and take home if not eaten. We all went home with a covered laundry basket full of freshly baked cookies to enjoy over the holidays or share with friends, so none of us missed coming!
We arrived at Diane’s home in either an ugly sweater or a casual outfit adorned with that holiday jewelry or accessory you can only wear a week or so in December. A few wore handmade items their kids had made in school, others wore stylish necklaces (remember this was the late 80’s, so big and boldly bedazzled was in), and some showed off their holiday socks given to them the year before by some older relative. Each of us was greeted by our hostess with a champagne flute full of an Asti cranberry punch and to make sure we had a lively time that punch bowl was kept full. Nothing better to put you in a festive mood, we all agreed.
Diane’s dining table was set with foods of all kinds. Our hostess, being from the South, made sure you were not going to leave hungry and we were encouraged to eat more than one plate. A beautifully baked spiral cut ham was the centerpiece every year and served with homemade biscuits and Durkee’s dressing. A Hashbrown casserole or cheese grits were a staple along with corn pudding and the infamous green bean casserole. Traditional comfort foods seem to always be wanted at that time of year, so now was the time to splurge. You behave yourself all year until Thanksgiving and Christmas come, then those of us from the southern states expect the old traditional favorites. The cookies we all made served as our dessert, but our favorite goodie was our gift of Diane’s famous chocolate covered cherries…two huge ones to a red box tied up with a beautiful white ribbon. They were divine and she would not share the recipe. She had learned how to make them one year and sold them to her husband’s company for their client gifts one Christmas. She told me privately that she had made enough money to buy her own brand new Volvo that year! She knew she had a hit on her hands and I don’t blame her in the least for not sharing the recipe with us…after all, a gal has got to do what a gal has got to do in order to drive a brand new Volvo, right?
Years have passed since those fun times and many of us have moved away from each other, but some of us have stayed in touch. And every Christmas I still get a red box tied with white ribbon and two chocolate huge covered cherries from my gal pal of over 28 years. I smile as a slowly savor each bite and value our friendship.
I plan on making these tea cookies I saw for next Christmas…but for this year I will share my mother’s Frieda’s Dish Pan Cookie Recipe she acquired from her elderly neighbor, Madge, in the North Carolina mountains in the late 80’s…you will need a dish pan to make this much cookie dough, but it makes DOZENS to give and they are delicious and easy!
Preheat oven to 325
4 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
2 cups brown sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
2 cups cooking oil
2 tsp vanilla
Mix all of this together now add and mix well 1 1/2 cups quick oats and
2 cups of corn flakes
Drop only 1 tsp of dough on a cookie sheet until you have filled it up with dollops about 1 1/2 inches apart..they spread while baking. Bake at 325 for only 8-10 minutes until lightly brown, then remove with metal spatula and let cool on a piece of wax paper. Continue until you have used all of the dough…you will be surprised how many it makes, and how quickly they get eaten.