Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Cranberry Christmas Cookies

Cranberry Christmas is one of 21 children's books written and illustrated by husband and wife team Wende and Harry Devlin, 15 of which were written about the fictional town of Cranberryport, which is presumably a New England coastal town.  The Devlins also have a series about Old Witch, which I must write about at some point!  You can read about the authors and all their books at http://www.harryandwendedevlin.com.

The Cranberryport series of books (which were written between 1971 and 1995) focuses on a girl named Maggie, her Grandmother, and retired local sea captain and family friend Mr. Whiskers, so called because of his lovely long black beard.  In most of the books, there is a mystery that involves people underestimating or taking advantage of poor Mr. Whiskers, who solves these problems with the help of Maggie and Grandmother.

Cranberry Christmas, for example, finds Mr. Whiskers in quite a predicament.  There are two problems, actually: for one, the pond next to his house used to be bustling with the activities of ice skaters - laughing, joking, and enjoying life - but grouchy new neighbor Cyrus Grape, who lives on the other side of the pond, claims that he is the pond's rightful owner, and he hates ice skating, children, and fun in general.  Mr. Whiskers is sure that he's the rightful owner, but can't find any paperwork to prove it.  And so, the skating has been stopped.

If that wasn't bad enough, Mr. Whiskers's "persnickety" sister, Sarah, has just written a letter announcing that she is on her way from the city for Christmas, and she is expecting him to return to the city to live with her for good!  "You can't take care of yourself.  Your house looks like a shipwreck and your money box is always empty," she explained.  Mr. Whiskers is absolutely furious (and very sad) at the thought of leaving Cranberryport, but he has to clean up his act to convince his sister that he's self-sufficient.  (Ironically, this requires the help of Maggie and Grandmother.)

Now, with all that's going on, do you think it's possible that both problems can be solved?  Perhaps a solution can be found that will fix both problems at the same time!

As the happy little group gathers to sing Christmas carols, Grandmother and Maggie enjoy their favorite spiced cider and cranberry cookies.  In happy news, the back cover or last page of most of the Devlins' books contains the recipes found in the book!  In other news, I didn't use that recipe.  I used a recipe that I found in a magazine a few years ago, that I've had a few people request the recipe for (it was called "Christmas Sandies."  I'm afraid I have a photocopy of the recipe but I'm not sure which magazine this came from, except that it says Christmas Cookies 2009).

Cranberryport Cranberry Cookies
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup finely chopped cranberries (I chopped mine in the food processor - so easy!)
2 tsp. finely grated lemon peel
Granulated sugar to roll in

1) Preheat the oven to 350.  Beat butter with a mixer for 30 seconds at high speed.  Beat in powdered sugar to combine.  Beat in vanilla.
2) Beat in as much flour as you can.  Stir in cranberries, lemon peel, and any remaining flour, using your hands to mix if needed.
3) Shape mixture into 1/2" balls.  Roll the dough in granulated sugar* and put on an ungreased cookie sheet. (*The original recipe calls to roll the dough in nonpareils instead of sugar, but I liked the sugar better.)
4) Bake the cookies for 10 minutes or until the bottoms of the cookies are golden brown.
 These are sandies, which means that they're mostly flour, and therefore don't brown up very much.  This picture (above) is of the finished, cooling cookies.  They are so yummy!

Today is not only during the Christmas season, but also Hanukkah - Happy Hanukkah!!! I have a couple Hanukkah recipes to post for you, and several more cookies, so stay tuned!  As always, please feel free to contact me via email or facebook!

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