Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Advent, Gramma and Grandpa, and a recipe for Austrian Christmas cookies

Advent is in full swing here, accompanied by winter weather and magical Christmas traditions from Germany.  My Mom used to make an advent calendar - a wreath from which dangled enticing little gifts, and my three sisters and I took turns opening one present every day, beginning on the first of December.  24 days divided by 4 equals 6, so we all got a total of six presents.  It's hard for little girls to wait four days to open gifts in plain view all day long, and my own three children have the same problem.  24 days divided by 3 equals 8, so they all get 8 presents, which is better than what I got as a kid.  A lot of prodding and squeezing of gifts goes on around here, which makes me nervous because the kids balance on the edge of the sofa to reach the advent calendar.  At the same time, it makes my heart happy because that's exactly what my sisters and I did.

Steve's parents are visiting from Minnesota.  Grandma and Grandpa LIVE for their grandkids, and they spend hours playing games with them, reading to the little one, suffering through the bigger ones' demonstration of computer skills, cutting out paper snowflakes, baking, going to the movie theater and snuggling.  I get choked up watching the love they share with my kids.  I wish they could live next door instead of thousands of miles away.

The menfolk went into the deep dark woods to cut a christmas tree while the womenfolk stayed at home to bake cookies.  This arrangement worked out fine, since it has been raining nonstop for days, and I really didn't feel like going outside and getting wet.  Instead, I made Austrian cookies called Kipferln (recipe below).  The guys appreciated this when they got home soaking wet.

The next day, we went to the Marblemount Community Hall, where Santa was scheduled to show up at noon.  There were rumblings that Santa was sick, but that a replacement was being worked on.  Lo and behold, Santa did eventually show up in the form of our friend Mike, which temporarily sent me into a panic because Eva knows him well, and I am not ready for her to be in on the secret about Santa.  Turns out, she didn't seem to notice that the jolly man underneath the bright red santa coat was our good buddy Mike, because she was too excited about the presents the kids received from him.  

I usually don't particularly care for Christmas season because it is so terribly commercialized and hyped up, so I love that we've been confined to our house and short trips to town to visit our favorite pizza joint (Annie's Pizza), our favorite bakery (5 B Bakery) and our favorite movie theater (Concrete Theater).  I adore our local community of good hearted people.

I hope your holiday season is as peaceful, love/cookie filled as ours at the moment.  
I'll leave you with images from our week.

Eva helping me make Gouda cheese.  (Remember, you can buy someone a gift certificate for my online cheese making class!):

A walk to our neighborhood Grotto:

Luke and Steve flint knapping arrowheads in the rain.  I bet I was baking cookies while they were doing this:

Steve and I preparing meat from our pigs for smoking bacon.  I can't wait for bacon!!!!

Lukas caught yet another fish:

The Skagit River early in the morning:

Recipe for Austrian Kipferln, also known as Russian Tea Cakes

1 cup white flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter at room temperature
1/3 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup toasted, ground hazelnuts or almonds (roast at 325 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes) - it really brings out their flavor.  I grind them in my cuisinart.
1/2 cup powdered sugar

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Put butter, sugar and vanilla in a bowl and beat on medium speed until smooth.  Add nuts and beat on low speed until blended.  Add flour and salt and beat until the dough comes together.

Roll about a Tablespoon worth of dough between your palms into a little ball.  Put them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper .

Bake until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes.  Let cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes, then put them on rack to cool completely.  Once they are totally cooled, gently roll the balls in powdered sugar to coat them completely.  Do wait til they are cool - otherwise the powdered sugar will get all wet-looking.


  1. Your pictures are so beautiful where you live.The Grotto looks so peaceful. Nice to have family in share Christmas traditions with. Hope your dad is doing better.

    1. Beth, yes, my Dad is doing better. I probably should mention this in one of my blog posts because I bet a lot of people are wondering...

  2. I love them with pecans . Growing up they where called " Sandys " for me another name is Mexican wedding cookies . No matter the name they are addicting!

    1. And some people call them Russian Tea Cakes! It seems like these things are famous all over the world, and no wonder!

  3. Hi Corina, I have been reading your blog for quite a while now and I really enjoy it. As I am Austrian I'd just like to tell you that you are not making "Kipferl". The recipe sounds for me like the recipe for "Vanillekipferl" and "Kipferl" do not look like balls but have a very small "U"-shape (just like croissants, but very small). ;-)
    Yours, Angela (from Austria)

    1. Hey Angela,
      Thanks for pointing this out! You are right, Kipferl are usually a half moon shape. I stand corrected! Still, they taste awesome, don't they? Thanks for reading my blog!

  4. What a good blog you have here. Please update it more often. This topics is my interest. Thank you. wordpress web development company


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