Martha’s Creme de la Cookie!- Cream Cheese Walnut Cookies! -145 eggs, 103 3/4 cups of sugar, 108 1/4 sticks of Butter, and 129 1/2 cups of flour used so far- 93 recipes to go!

November 20, 2010


Martha's Cream Cheese Walnut Cookies

André's Cream Cheese Walnut Cookies

I don’t think there is any earthly challenge one can face that can’t be made better through the power of cream cheese.  Brownies, danishes, cakes, puddings, buns, rolls, and yes, even cookies can have their enjoyment-levels increased to dangerous points through a liberal infusion with this delectable dairy product. Martha’s Cream Cheese Walnut Cookies are certainly no exception. This cookie is more-or-less a shortbread with cream cheese doing some of the heavy lifting usually reserved for butter. Walnuts are finely chopped and toasted before they’re added to the dough. The dough is rolled into a log and chilled so that it can be easily sliced into disks. Just before the log is sliced, coarsely chopped walnuts are spread across the outside so that each cookie is encircled in chopped walnuts.

These cookies are delicate and refined. They are buttery and rich with a sandy texture perfect for a proper tea with friends or as an elegant gift. I would nominate this recipe as a candidate for a cookie exchange or holiday gifting option. It yields almost five dozen and so there is plenty to enjoy and share.

My partner and I are preparing for yet another holiday season in Kansas City. Soon we’ll pull out our cheap, artificial tree from the basement. The one Dan picked up for nineteen bucks at a local discount store for our first Christmas together. It’s hideous but we kind of love its hideousness. We’ll shake the cobwebs and old spider carcasses from it along with about four pounds of green, artificial needles. We’ll hang a few hundred twinkle lights on its wiry branches, and green, blue, and teal glass balls will dangle from every square inch. We’ll fill in the gaps with peacock feathers and ribbon. Our Christmas tree is as close as Dan and I will ever get to doing drag. When we’re done decorating, our tree looks as tasteful as a Canal Street prostitute the day after Mardi Gras.

I will go to the front yard with a garbage bag filled with about forty pounds of white lights. I will curse as I struggle to untangle them. I will then bedeck our leafless plum tree with ropes of lights till every branch droops under the weight of the Spirit of Christmas – made in Taiwan. The two potted urns on the front doorstep will each receive their miniature tree with even more white twinkle lights. A large wreath will hang proudly on the screen outside our front door proclaiming to the rest of the neighborhood that yes, we’re queers but not Jewish queers.

I will then pull out a small cardboard box. It’s the same cardboard box I’ve had for over ten years now. It’s filled with a small collection of white, ceramic figurines from the nativity. Each one was poured, cleaned, glazed and fired by my grandmother. She made a set of these ghostly figures for each of her many grandchildren. She made a larger and fancier set with fully rendered and painted figurines for each of her eight children. One of the things that holds our family together is knowing that at Christmastime we’ll have grandma’s nativity set up in some place of honor in our homes. I set mine up in the nook just above the fold out bar. That way, as it gets closer to Christmas, I’ll have more and more opportunities to spend time with Joseph and the Fam.

Christmas is one of those holidays that just stresses me out. I know I’m not alone in feeling this way. They say the suicide rates go up during the holidays. I don’t think it has much to do with feeling lonely or unloved although I imagine there are people who do. I think some of them are like the rest of us. Just too freaking stressed out. Honestly, have you ever spent a few hours in a mall during the holiday season? After the first hour I begin to question life’s futility. After the third hour I’m trying to fashion a noose out of decorative aluminum mall garlands.

My first Christmas with Dan was probably the most stressful, though. We were living in a groovy little loft above a groovy little gallery in a groovy part of town. This is back when we were still groovy. Dan invited his mother and brother to have Christmas brunch with us. There were cheesy eggs and hash browns. There was French toast with warm syrup and homemade buttermilk biscuits. The star of the brunch, however, was a beautiful brown sugar glazed ham.

This was the first time I was to entertain Dan’s family and I wanted to impress them with my cooking skills. I’ve since learned that Dan’s family is not an easy group to impress.

I’m not saying they’re rude. They’re not. They’re just very different from my wack-a-doodle family.

Holidays at my parent’s house are loud. That’s the way it’s always been. That’s the way it will always be. There are usually several people talking at once and absolutely no one is listening. Usually there’s an argument that quickly escalates into a fight. I remember one particularly heated Christmas debacle in the early nineties. I was visiting my folks from my home in Florida. My youngest sister was dating a long-haired  slacker with an enormous rottweiler. This rottweiler had attacked my parent’s dachshund, Piper,  a month earlier leaving her with one eye and a psychotic fear of big dogs- particularly this dog. Dad was not pleased  my sister arrived with the rottweiler in tow. Sis explained that her boyfriend was out of town and so she had to bring the dog. She told dad not to worry and she’d keep keep the dog in the backyard.

After quite a bit of grumbling they both joined the family and a few special guests. There was mom’s friend, the anesthesiologist from Sri Lanka and one of our cousins who happens to be a nun. Dinner was almost ready so we made a circle and joined hands to say a prayer led by the guest nun. It was nice to have an expert at this sort of thing leading grace. Just as we began the Lord’s Prayer, the rottweiler jumped up against a window in the back of the house. As grace continued, dad and my sis rushed out of the room to investigate.

Our Christmas prayer went something like this…

Our Father who art in heaven hallowed be thy name.

CRACK! CRASH! Woof!

Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done.

GODDAMMIT! That GODDAMN DOG BROKE THE GODDAMN WINDOW! Woof! Woof!

On Earth as it is in Heaven.

I’M GOING TO KILL THAT GODDAMN DOG, YOU HEAR!? Woof!

Give us this day our daily bread…

DON’T YOU F**KING LAY A HAND ON MY DOG YOU SADISTIC MOTHERF**KER! Woof! Woof!

And forgive us our trespasses…

Woof! I DIDN”T RAISE MY GODDAMN CHILD TO TALK TO ME THAT WAY! Woof!

As we forgive those who trespass against us.

WHERE’S MY GODDAMN GUN!? Woof! I’M GONNA’ KILL THAT GODDAMN DOG! Woof!

And lead us not into temptation…

I HATE YOU! I HATE YOU! I HATE YOU! Woof! Woof!

But deliver us from evil.

WHY! WHY! WHY THE HELL DID YOU HAVE TO BRING THIS GODDAMN DOG!? Woof! Woof!

F**K YOU!

Woof! Amen. Woof!

This sort of exchange would never happen with Dan’s family. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever heard Dan’s family utter that many words in a single gathering ever.

So, how was our first Christmas together so stressful? Well, everything went great on Christmas day. We all ate quietly and appreciatively. We watched a little television. We opened presents. Dan’s brother drove his mom back out to her home in Lawrence, KS and Dan and I settled in for a well-deserved nap.

The next day we got the news that Dan’s mom had a heart attack and was rushed to the hospital. One of the first questions they asked her was if she’d eaten ham. Apparently people who are on the cusp of having a heart attack are pushed over the edge during the holidays because of the high salt, sugar and fat intake.

The ham I was so proud of was an instrument of death. This would go down in my personal history as the Christmas where I almost killed my boyfriend’s mother. Luckily she was able to get proper treatment. She had a stint put into an artery and has made a full recovery with the aid of medication and diet. I still get a bit antsy during the holidays, though. She’s joining us for Thanksgiving this year and no doubt Dan or his brother will mention this episode with a sarcastic request that I not kill their mother this holiday season. Of course Dan’s sister will email me asking for my “killer” ham recipe.

I will take all of this good-natured ribbing in stride. I will take all these negative feelings around almost killing my partner’s mother and push them down deep into the pit of my stomach and then release them at an appropriate opportunity…  in the middle of grace, perhaps.

I can always claim it’s a family tradition.

 

 


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One Response to “Martha’s Creme de la Cookie!- Cream Cheese Walnut Cookies! -145 eggs, 103 3/4 cups of sugar, 108 1/4 sticks of Butter, and 129 1/2 cups of flour used so far- 93 recipes to go!”

  1. Mary Gemmell Says:

    This episode is really funny, especially with a nun present.


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