Some of my favorite things happen around this time of year. Family traditions centered around food are my go-to for a good time: getting chocolate milkshakes from Red Knapp’s on Christmas Eve, eating cinnamon rolls as we open gifts on Christmas morning, making sweet potato casserole on Thanksgiving…you get the picture. I use the holidays as a time to sit back and reflect on the important things in life.
It took me growing into an adult to realize who I get my hobbies/quirks/personality from…my Grandma Julie. The unfortunate part is that I didn’t realize it until it was too late. My grandma passed away at the ripe age of 92. I was young for having a grandma that old so I didn’t always appreciate everything she represented: strength, joy, and unconditional love. Shortly after having my mom, my grandma became a widow. To the naked eye, her life may have seemed mundane. She never remarried, she raised my mom as an only child, she never went to work when she was widowed, and probably looked like you’re typical “old lady”. As you dig deeper, you quickly realize that her life was anything but mundane. Do you know what it takes to raise a daughter as a widow in the 1950s? Strength. Do you know what it takes to put up with my siblings and me as grandchildren? Unconditional love. Do you know what it takes to be able to genuinely respond with “wonderful” anytime someone asks you how you are? Joy.
So all this story-telling about my grandma and you’re wondering where sugar cookies come into play…I get it.
When I was little, I have vivid memories of making "Grandma Julie's Sugar Cookies" with my mom and my siblings every year around Christmas. Every year as an adult, regardless of what city I’m living in, I can’t wait to whip out the butter and sugar and get my sugar cookie on in the kitchen.. These cookies represent so much more than butter, sugar, and flour. They represent memories. They represent the holidays. They represent family. They represent tradition. They represent Grandma Julie.
Every year when I make these, I can’t help but think of the beautiful woman she was and the beautiful memories I have with her.
I hope you enjoy these cookies as much as I have over the past 20+ years. I prefer them best dunked in a hot cup of coffee or cold glass of milk while spending time with the ones you love.
I hope you can get your holiday groove on in the kitchen this season and create some beautiful memories with your loved ones.
Grandma Julie's Sugar Cookies
Makes 16-18 large cookies
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1. Cream together butter, sugar and vanilla (fun fact: adding the vanilla long with the fat brings out the flavor of the vanilla)
2. Add egg and milk; cream together to combine.
3. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, salt, and baking powder. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients. Mix just to combine.
4. To roll out the dough (see photos in post): Divide dough into two even balls. Working with one ball at a time, place dough in between two pieces of parchment paper. Roll out until it is 1/4 inch thick. Place dough on a flat surface and freeze for 15 to 20 minutes until firm.. When dough is firm, place on a work surface while keeping dough between the parchment paper. Remove the top sheet of parchment paper and gently replace it. Flip sheet of dough over and remove what is now the top sheet of parchment paper. Cut out cookies using cookie cutters of choice and place on a lined baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Repeat with remaining dough.
5. Bake cookies at 350 degrees for 8-11 minutes.