Sunday, November 6, 2011

Christmas Memories: Pizzelles

Christmas Cookie Memories

When I first found out about the Ohio Blogging Association's November Blog Swap, I jumped at the chance to participate!  And I was even more excited when I found out that my swap partner was someone I had not yet met because I love meeting new bloggers.  When trying to come up with a topic, my mind was consumed with cookies.  I'm sure this has to do with the quickly approaching holidays and my participation in the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap.

As I familiarized myself with Becoming Rooks, I found out through Twitter that Morgan's grandmother was very ill.  Terrible timing for her to worry about blogging when someone so special was being moved to hospice, but she decided to participate even when her Grandma passed away.  We decided to move forward with the cookie theme with a special twist.  In honor of Morgan's Grandma, this post is in honor of all the wonderful grandparents that we love and especially those we have lost.

As a kid, I remember that Christmas was the most magical time of year - the decorations, Christmas songs, mountains of presents, and of course Santa! One of my favorite memories is making cookies with my Grammie. My Mom's Mom was not the traditional grandmother that stayed home and was a housewife. My grandfather left her long before I was born and she was a working woman before it was the norm. She was much more likely to be wearing her red shoes and carrying her matching red purse than to be wearing an apron! She was an excellent cook but didn't really have time to bake on a regular basis. Except at Christmas...

Every year we would make cookies. Not just any cookie, but an Italian specialty that has been passed down for generations - her special anise pizzelles. Anise is a flavor that you either love, or you hate. I have always loved it and would happily gobble up my friends' discarded black jelly beans. While you can make pizzelles in other flavors, for me, the only true pizzelle has a heavy dose of anise mixed in. I love how the whole house would smell like it thanks to the steam created when baking the cookies in the special waffle iron-like pizzelle maker.
I always looked forward to making these delicate cookies with my Grammie! And because they are so time consuming, we would spend a lot of quality time in the kitchen mixing the batter and making the cookies. We would talk about when she was a little girl and how it was growing up as part of a large immigrant family. I was always so fascinated because she was one of nine children and I was an only child. She talked about their huge garden, making countless loaves of bread, and how she always had to wear hand me downs because she was the youngest girl. We would play Italian music on records and she would sing along as she plopped the dough on the pizzelle iron and pressed the cookies two at a time. I was in charge of flipping the cookies on the table so they wouldn't get soggy and stacking them up once they were cool. We both shared the job of Cookie Taster and ate all the rejects that weren't perfect or that broke.
When I was old enough to move out on my own, my Grammie made sure that I had my very own pizzelle iron to take with me. At the time I wondered why she would get me something with such a specialized use when I didn't even have a set of dishes. Now I know that she was making sure the the tradition we always shared would continue to be a part of my life even when I wasn't able to make them with her. As an adult, I've become the official pizzelle maker in my family.  I make them by the hundreds for my tiny family and dearest friends.  

Every year when I unpack the pizzelle iron and unfold the splattered and stained recipe written in her handwriting, my heart floods with love and I'm transported back to those perfect years spent in my Grammie's kitchen surrounded my the scent of anise and my Grammie's love. 
What's your favorite Christmas cookie?

1 comment:

  1. This was such a joy to read! We make 12 dozen anise pizzelles and 12 dozen vanilla ones each year. We'll be baking Saturday and this is always the first recipe that we tackle. "Quality Control" is the BEST job of all!

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