Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Leif's Favorite Christmas Cookies

All my life we've had the tradition of baking Norwegian cookies and Norwegian Christmas Bread for Christmas. I don't think I've ever had a Christmas my whole life when I haven't at least had our favorite Berliner Kranser cookies, which, though they are Norwegian and a very old family recipe, are oddly enough named "Berlin Wreaths." The Christmas bread is called "Julekage" which translated would mean Yule Cake, I think.

My son's never took to Julekage because it has raisins in it, but all three of my guys loved Berliner Kranser, the butter cookies with the melted sugar topping and the odd recipe with the 4 hard boiled egg yolks mashed through a sieve. They used to help e make them, and snitch as much of the raw dough as they could get away with. I remember Leif with his mischief eyes coming in and swiping some when he was older and not helping make them any more.

I loved making those cookies for them and loved seeing them enjoy them. I never made them before December 23rd or 24th because they would have been long gone before Christmas. I used to find joy in sending some home with Leif, knowing he'd probably eat them all with a big glass of milk in the middle of the night while he was messing around on the computer or watching television in his apartment.

Last year, Aly made them, with my help, and Peter A. was here to eat them with his dad. The year before that, all three of my guys were still there waiting for them to come out of the oven. This year, with Peter A. far away in India and Leif dead, it's just Peter W. who gets to eat them without competition.

For some reason, these cookies didn't seem to catch on with the grandchildren. When we made several batches of cookies last year, they were more interested in the frosted, decorated cookies or ice cream than our old favorites. But no matter, what will always bring the joy to my heart is that I could bring joy to Peter W., Peter A. and Leif with these glorious old cookies. I just wish Leif were here to enjoy them now.

The photo of Leif was taken on Christmas Eve 1987 when we were living at Fort Sheridan, Illinois, north of Chicago. He was one month shy of his 13th birthday and was in the seventh grade. By that time he was already six feet tall.

The cookie photo is a handful of Berliner Kranser made here.

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