Every year at Christmastime, my family makes Italian cookies. We call them wand, and they’re basically fried dough sprinkled with sugar. Melt-in-your-mouth, forget-about-your-diet delicious.
My favorite holiday memory is about those cookies…
It’s December, nineteen seventy-something. Picture a loud, crowded kitchen with harvest gold appliances. Football’s blaring from the TV in the next room. My cousins and I are chasing each other through a maze of adult legs, laughing as we slide over a linoleum floor slick with flour.
My mom (to Aunt M.): Did you bring the pot? (She’s talking about a heavy, iron, charred pot resembling a small cauldron. It once belonged to my grandmother, and no one would dream of cooking wand in anything else.)Mom reaches into a cabinet and produces a tin box covered in a quaint blue and gold Dutch pattern. She opens the dented, hinged lid and flips through index cards—eggplant parm, meatballs, Easter bread. The wand recipe is tucked in there, written on ragged-edged, brittle paper and encased in a plastic baggie in a futile attempt to keep the grease and wine stains from multiplying. Mom takes out the paper and reverently lays it on the sunny Formica counter. She and Aunt M. lean in to read it, smiling.
Aunt M. (mildly offended, but laughing): Of course I brought the pot. I drove two hours to pick it up from D’s. Did you get the oil?
Mom: Of course. The last bottle Marchone’s had.
Aunt M.: Where’s G? It’s her turn to roll the dough this year. She better not try to get out of it.
Mom (dipping a sifter into the flour bin): She’ll be here. How many cups? I can never remember if it’s 3 or 4.
Aunt M.: (sipping her wine) We’d better check.
It’s not really about checking the recipe—nobody uses measuring cups anyway. Instead, my mom and aunt gaze at my grandmother’s graceful handwriting and the notes that have been lovingly added to the bottom and back of the paper throughout the years. “1970 – triple batch yielded 1 ½ bags!” “1973 – M. finally helped. About time.” “1975 – First batch in the new house.”
All of this—the ancient pot, the Italian oil, the sisterly banter, reminiscing—was (and still is) part of our cookie-making tradition.
My mom, sister, aunts, cousins, and I still gather on a chilly day each December to sip wine and playfully critique one another’s dough rolling technique. We let our kids sprinkle confectioner’s sugar on the warm cookies, glistening with oil. We show them the notes on the recipe, explaining that some were written long before they were born. We add their names to the old recipe, and tell them that one day their children will make wand in the big black pot, too.
Food and family are such an important part of the holidays, aren’t they? Here’s an easy question for you: what’s your favorite holiday cookie? :)
Length: 384 pages
Publisher: Forever (October 28, 2014)
Lady Olivia Sherbourne isn't shy about speaking her mind, except when it comes to James Averill. For ten long years he has been her brother's best friend and her heart's only desire. But when Olivia hears James will soon set sail for an expedition to Egypt, she knows the time has come to make her move. It's now or never . . .
James has always found Olivia bewitchingly attractive, but what kind of gentleman takes up with his best friend's sister? Not that he's thinking particularly gentlemanly thoughts when she appears on his exploratory trip-three hundred miles from home!-and incites a tavern fight. No matter what the devil she's doing there, it's his duty to see her safely back to her family. But how safe will she be when every starlit night brings wicked temptation . . . ?
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Fortunately, a few years and a few careers later, Anne found her way back to writing the stories she loves and won the Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart® for Regency Historical Romance. She lives in Maryland with her husband and three children, who try valiantly not to roll their eyes whenever she quotes Jane Austen. Her weaknesses include reality TV, cute-but-impractical shoes, and coffee. Lots and lots of coffee.
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