Tag Archives: traditions


Since I first made these a few years ago they have become my favorite Christmas cookie — richly spicy, crunchy, not too sweet, satisfying but not heavy. The Dutch traditionally make them for St. Nicholas’ Day on December 6, and … Continue reading

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Hot cross buns

These are the buns I bake every year for Easter morning breakfast. The recipe is adapted from The King Arthur Flour 200th Anniversary Cookbook, but the combination of spices and flavorings is borrowed from a bun I ate years ago … Continue reading

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Sugar cookies

This makes enough dough to keep your kids occupied for awhile, should be easy enough for them to work without frustration, but still tastes good. For variations on the spice, see my historical flavor suggestions.

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Belsnickel cookies

This is adapted from Pennsylvania Dutch Cooking, first published in 1938. I’m assuming these cookies were intended for Belsnickelers who went door to door demanding treats at Christmas time. They’re really just sugar cookies, but quite good ones.

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Frugal celebrations

Funny how some things we traditionally do to mark the new year are long-term resolutions, while others are one-off celebrations. Eating right and working out? Oh, we’re going to do that every day. (What’s that? We said the same thing … Continue reading

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Christmas cookies the kids can roll and the adults will eat

The winter solstice party was cancelled on account of winter weather, and the world failed to end after all, so we spent Friday evening at home decorating sugar cookies. My nine year-old art director had just received a new box … Continue reading

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A brief history of the sugar cookie

Traditions have a way of growing sadly stale over the years, don’t they? The spirit that once animated them slowly dies, leaving only the dry outer husk of empty actions. Ah, but sometimes we can revive them by looking to the past, by finding the old spirit and sloughing off the dead forms. Sometimes we find that the original form of a tradition not only meant more at the time, but can mean more to us today. Sometimes the past is like a little hope chest, a little… er… hopeful thing. Or other.

This is not one of those times.

No, friends, today we’re going to talk about sugar cookies. Continue reading

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Mindful, but still not gravied with conviviality

An article in today’s New York Times examines yet another case of Americans taking a fundamentally sound idea — mindful eating — and driving it to extremes. Having just concluded a draft of my book with an epilogue in which … Continue reading

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Tomorrow is Candlemas: the midpoint of winter, halfway between the solstice and the equinox, in cultures unspoiled by scientifically rational astronomy the first day of spring, and in much of Western Europe traditionally the day to break ground for the … Continue reading

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White-people soul food

I was intrigued by this article in today’s New York Times about “Mormon cuisine,” not because (as is the point of the article) it’s changing (what cuisine isn’t?) but because I had trouble seeing what was uniquely Mormon about any … Continue reading

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