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04 December 2008

sugar cookies and slowing down

sugar cookies I

(We're thrilled that this recipe is being featured at's roundup of holiday recipes for 2009. For more of our featured posts, visit today.)

We returned from Tucson on Monday, tired and amazed. Little Bean did not cry once, on any of the flights we endured going to and fro. Instead, she looked up at the lights, and the rings on the handle of her car seat, or whichever pair of eyes hovered above her, and seemed to say, "Cool. Here's a new experience."

We're pretty sure we're in for a tough time when she's a teenager. This part is so easy.

She touches her toes now, and holds them in her hands for hours. Her bright little eyes take in everything. She cranes her neck to see more. She rolls onto her side with vigor and an arched back. She laughs at nearly everything. She loves music (especially Cat Stevens and Daler Mendhi) and the smell of dill under her nose. When we tell people that she sleeps, most nights, from 7 pm to 7 am, we receive astonished looks. When we say she has been doing this since she was 10 weeks old, we see some glaring. (For the most part, we've stopped saying this now.)

Our favorite part of the day, among many moments of presence and laughter, comes before the sun rises in the morning. We wake up to hear her babbling, laughing in the darkness. Most mornings, the Chef and I lay under the covers, whispering quietly so that she won't hear. We never want it to end, the chatter and consonants spilling from her lips. And I swear, she cracks herself up, staring up at her favorite blanket, in the pitch blackness.

Seriously, she's going to be a difficult teenager.

Of course, her grandparents in Tucson (the Chef's parents) were besotted with her. There were morning feedings at the kitchen table, time on the sun-dappled blanket on the carpet, walks past the golf course, and the nightly ritual of a kiss before bedtime. We were all relaxed and happy.

However, as soon as we landed, we were flung headlong into the stress of the impending deadline. People, the book is due to the publishers in 28 days.

Wish us luck. Send us breath. Cross your fingers.

We love this time, of cooking together with Little Bean in the kitchen, working out the words to describe the gentle simmering of a veal stock on the burner, tasting something together and deciding it works (dinner rolls; handmade pasta; berry pancakes; focaccia). This is the time of warmth and laughter and light and stress.

Sort of like the holidays, really.

Why do we rush headlong, every year, into the stampede of giving, the insistence of pleasure, the obligation of generosity? Does anyone actually enjoy it?

It took me years to stop crossing off lists and letting days go by without ever breathing because I had four more dozen cookies to make before I could go to bed. I'd say the year I caught double pneumonia and nearly died slowed me down, a bit. The terrible winter I endured the car accident precluded the possibility of buying presents for everyone. Two years ago, I had another book manuscript due — I wouldn't mind a book being due in March some time — and I just couldn't think about Christmas cards. They weren't ever sent.

I don't think anyone died.

But someone died in a Wal-Mart, at 5 am last week, because he was trampled to death by a mob of shoppers desperate to find more bargains.

This year, the Chef and I have vowed to take pleasure in the holidays, the way we did as kids. Little Bean is too young to have it mean anything. (Seriously, it's all about the bubbles at the moment, the ones that come in a bottle for 59 cents.) As much as I loved the mound of presents yet to be opened, I love even more, in retrospect, these experiences:

-- the cold bristle of pine needles near my nose on the day we brought the tree home

-- sitting underneath that tree, now decorated, my eyes filled with primary-colored lights

-- drinking hot cider, my hands cupped around the warmth

-- opening the Advent calendar, the cheesy $2.99 teddy bears and grinning elves Advent calendar every day (we bought one for Little Bean the day we came home)

-- practicing Christmas carols on the piano, from the John Thompson piano series

-- watching all those Rankin/Bass specials I loved so much (the ones that seem just plain weird to me now. All those talking puppets and elves who wanted to be dentists and heat meisers and the schoolteacher flirting with Santa. Were those guys on acid?), in the same order every year

-- complaining that my mother wanted to watch The Gathering or The Bishop's Wife or the Albert Finney version of Scrooge, even though those are by far my favorite now

-- feeling warm in my new pajamas Christmas Eve

-- anticipation. all that anticipation of evenings at home, gathering, books of Lifesavers in my stocking, my brother playing songs on the guitar, egg nog from the carton, and the hope of that day meeting all our expectations.

That's what lingers now, when I think about the holidays. Most of it didn't cost anything. Much of it had nothing to do with presents.

When you think about the best gifts you have ever been given at the holidays, what were they? Is it really that big-screen television? Or was it something more quirky, less expensive, something meant only for you? I'd love to hear.

So over here, we are working to find those moments of light this next month. Forget the shopping, the scrabbling, the squabbling. We're going to slow down and sit in front of the fire, put on Harry Belafonte, and remember to breathe together, even in the midst of an impending deadline. We are grateful to have each other, and our daughter, whom we so easily could have lost when she was born.

This is enough.

And gluten-free sugar cookies don't hurt, either.

sugar cookies II

ROLLED SUGAR COOKIES, adapted from The Joy of Cooking

Instead of making a dozen different kinds of cookies this Christmas, I'm only making these. And I'm not sending tins of them to friends, making an epic trip to the post office to show off my baking skills. We're just going to be munching some in the next few weeks, enjoying every bite.

I have a sugar cookie recipe on this site already, an adaptation of a Bette Hagman recipe I learned the first Christmas I was gluten-free. It's a good recipe, and I'd make it again. But I like these better now. Every holiday might be the same structure, but I learn more every year. And in this case, I've gone back to the basics. It doesn't grow more plodding and brilliant than The Joy of Cooking, really.

These are only slightly sweet, in anticipation of the thick rich frosting waiting to sugar them up even more. If you want to eat them plain, I'd bump up the sugar even more. They have the soft bite of snow under boots, the flakiness of that snow first falling, and the ephemeral pleasure of the first storm of winter. (Snow is on my mind. The Chef misses it, terribly.)

We made a little simple syrup for the top and dusted them with powdered sugar. But buttercream frosting and the green sprinkles from our childhood would be fabulous too.

1/2 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1/2 cup potato starch
1/2 cup sweet rice flour
1/2 cup amaranth flour
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch fresh nutmeg

Combining the dry ingredients. Place all the flours in a medium-sized bowl. Whisk them together. Slowly, sift them through a fine-mesh sieve into another bowl. Add the xanthan gum, baking powder, and salt. Whisk together. Set aside.

Creaming the liquids. Stir the butter (or let the beater attachment of the stand mixer do it for you). Add the sugar and cream them together until they are just combined. Add the two eggs and vanilla extract and beat for a couple of minutes more. Throw in the pinch of nutmeg and stir one last time.

Making the dough. Sift the dry ingredients into the liquids, one cup at a time. When the entire mixture is combined and well integrated, you are done. It should be a thick batter, not entirely stick to the touch, but not as stiff as traditional rolled cookie dough. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate overnight.

Baking the cookies. Take the dough out of the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature. Don't let it reach complete pliability. The dough should still be rather stiff from the refrigeration. Preheat the oven to 375°.

Roll out the cookie dough between two pieces of parchment paper (saves on gluten-free flour on the board). This dough doesn't go paper thin, so you'll have cookie with a bite to them. Cut out with your favorite shapes.

Bake for 8 to 12 minutes, depending on your oven and how crisp you like them. Let them cool for 10 minutes before eating them. I know. Try.

Makes about 15 to 20 cookies, depending on the shapes.


At 10:08 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

My favorite Christmas moments were spent baking pizelles and other cookies with my mom, sisters and all of our children. I will forever cherish this gift of time and heart. My thoughts are with you and your beautiful family to have a joyous holiday.

At 10:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love your writing and the way you find pleasure in the smallest things. You feed not only your belly ,but your senses as well.I was wondering if you could please tell me what xanthan gum is and what it is used for. Thank-you and the very best to the three of you in the New Year.

At 10:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've never had Gluten Free X-Mas/Sugar Cookies. I have been eating whole foods lately only although I'd love to start eating baked goods at one point in 2009.


At 11:13 PM, Blogger Pearl said...

i love your writing.

and yes, when it comes down to the important stuff: it's the most simple things that makes us happy, isn't it?

At 11:23 PM, Blogger Anna said...

My favorite thing about christmas was the tree. The smell, the texture, the spines on the needles the years my parents got spruce trees, and all the colorful lights and ornaments. I loved the bubble lights, with their ascending streams of bubbles reminiscent of lava lamps, also very interesting for kids of all ages. I loved stringing the tree with popcorn and cranberry garland and playing with the interactive ornaments. I learned how to make cookies at christmas, and have since enjoyed sharing that joy with my own children. Driving to see all the christmas lights that covered the houses on the way to the lit up botanical garden was always exciting, too, with christmas music playing on the radio as we drove. The simple smell of a sugar cookie and some hot spiced cider is enough to transport me right back to those joyous carefree times. Thank god for children, to help bring us back to the real joys. The thing I cherish most about being a mom is sharing the little things with my children; a taste, texture, smell, or sound, it's all new and fascinating. Thank you for sharing your world with us, it reminded me to stop and smell the tree this season. After all, that was my favorite part. Oh, and cookies are good, too.

At 11:54 PM, Blogger katie stone said...

beautiful post, shauna! i'd been anticipating this one...glad to hear you had a wonderful thanksgiving! you are in my thoughts as your deadline approaches!


At 2:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This Christmas we're keeping it simple. For my boyfriend I went to snapfish and created a photobook chronicling the past 3 years of our lives together. There's a photo of us in front of Impromtu on the first day of lunch service; I think we were your first customers that day.

For our family we're offering the best gift; Christmas Dinner. A meal of ham glazed with orange and bourbon, a salmon roasted in the oven, fingerling potatoes roasted and studded with sea salt along with some other side dishes. Perhaps crab stuffed jumbo shrimp and a simple crudities platter. We will gather and eat and drink wine and whip up a few batches of Ramos Gin Fizz and we'll be together.

This Christmas may be one of the best but my favorite was the year that we got a tree late, a few days before Christmas. I started sorting through decorations and couldn't decide so I put everything we had on that one Douglas Fir. 10,000 lights, 8 boxes of glass bulbs and all of the other ornaments we had. It was something to behold and the living room looked bright enough to land a plane. I'll never forget that year, the tree was ridiculous but it made us laugh and that was what counted.

At 3:18 AM, Blogger sweetpea said...

Love Christmas! I stopped the gift giving almost 17 years ago. I sure provides me with the opportunity to really enjoy the holiday season in a much different manner! Instead of material gifts I try to give "gatherings", a special dinner or outing here and their with family. Although we do make over 5000 homemade caramel every year. I am pushing back on that as well. Enjoy the time and try not to focus on the deadline!

At 4:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My little man has been sleeping through the night since he was 10 weeks old, too, so I know that look well. Would you believe we would actually wake him up before we went to bed to give him a bottle because we didn't believe he wouldn't wake up?
Can't wait to try the cookies. How about a gluten-free gingerbread cookie?

At 4:58 AM, Blogger kat smith said...

I was born in 1967 so my childhood was filled with all of those strange Rankin/Bass Christmas specials. My boyfriend and I find ourselves singing the song from Santa Claus is Coming To Town. Just put one foot in front of another and soon you'll be walking through the door. If you have ABC family channel there will be a new special from Rankin/Bass with the Meiser brothers. Many Christmas blessings to you, the Chef, and little bean. My boyfriend and I and his family are trying to survive the coming holidays after losing his mother the monday before Thanksgiving. If it were not for the grandkids Christmas might have been cancelled. I once worked fourteen hour days in the food service industry. In December of 2005 a car accident physically destroyed me. In January of 2007 I lost my brother to a drunk driver's idiocy. In 2007 I lost seven close family members. One never knows when they are celebrating Christmas if it will be the last one with the people they love. It is time spent together just sharing the simple joys of life that creates memories that bring solace when the loved ones are not here to enjoy the holidays with us. May you have a peaceful and joyous season. Tonya

At 5:04 AM, Blogger Gemma said...

My favourite things about Christmas are the smell of the tree, the twinkling lights, and listening to the Christmas Eve carols from King's College in Cambridge University. At the moment I am recovering from tonsillitis and curled up with Christmas recipes, getting ready to write my lists of dried fruit to be bought for the pudding and cake which I have promised my Mum. I love Christmas and while I love to buy presents for the people I love I know it is (or should be) a minor part of what makes Christmas special.

Good luck with the deadline.

At 5:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know, I honestly can't remember even one present that made my Christmas when I was young. Instead, what I recall is my parents cooking for the holiday gatherings with our enormous extended family. The food was delicious, of course, but spending time with my loud, crazy family was even better.

At 6:31 AM, Blogger JessiferSeabs said...

This post hit home with me -- for years, my family has said we are "scaling back Christmas," but it NEVER really happens and we all run around, frenzied balls of stress, shopping and baking and entertaining and partying, and in the end, we're all just EXHAUSTED

(and broke, with stacks of material crap that we don't really need).

I hate it.

THis year, we really DID vow to scale back -- we did a name draw for the first time. I drew my grandfather, who I ADORE. He's 92 and obviously doesn't need much, but I can't wait to put some actual thought and care into shopping for him, rather than just picking an item off a list.

It's my first Christmas living alone in five years. I had a really bad breakup last years. I contemplated not even putting up a tree this year, since nobody is here to snuggle up with in front of it. I ended up putting it up, and my house looks so cute and cozy, and my pooch and I are enjoying it.

There is a new baby in my family too -- my 2 month old niece -- and (I'm almost crying tears of joy as I write this), I am just so excited to spend a huge chunk of TIME with my family over the holidays... my favorite people in the whole darn world. At the end of a horrible year (for me, personally), the gift of my new niece and the support I've had from my parents, brother, and sis-in-law has made me fall madly in love with my family, and helped me realized than I'm one of the luckiest girls on earth.

THAT is what Christmas is all about for me this year.

At 6:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have just discovered your blog, and am so moved by your open, warm style. I feel like if I met you, we would be instant friends. I'm newly GF and your blog gives me such hope that it won't be so bad - I've already used several of your recipes with great success. My work as an environmental scientist can be a big downer, but your blog reminds me of the OTHER really important things, like love and food. Thanks for bringing so much light into the world.


At 7:16 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

I really enjoy your blog and the photos are marvelous. Best of luck with the next 28 (or is it 27 now) days before the deadline!

At 7:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I definately agree with keeping it simple. The Christmas tree is one of my favorite memories as well. Also the family trip every other year after the Christmas Eve service at church. My father is a pastor, so when we lived out West, we would all pile into the car after the Christmas Eve service and head to the East coast to spend the holidays with my mother's family (3 days and 2 nights straight through). It was fun though.

I had to laugh about what you said with Little Bean sleeping so long. Both my older boys slept like this. (We also eventually quite telling people who well they slept.) When I found out I was pregnant with my third (who will be joining the family around Christmas this year), everyone asked me if I wanted a girl this time. I told them all the same thing, the only thing I am really praying for (and I meant it) was another good sleeper. Well, it is another boy...we will find out if he is a good sleeper.

At 7:23 AM, Blogger Karen said...

Christmas is all about the little moments. Presents are nice, sure, but the music, the smells, the food, the family and the feelings are what we remember for years and years. Beautiful post :)

At 9:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My 82 year old father and our family lived through the war in Germany. Each year as ALL(32) of our family gathers he hands out the gifts.. laughing & singing as he does..BUT before he begins.. he reminds us that this moment, with us being together and healthy and loved..THAT is our greatest gift.I am truly blessed......

At 9:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wonderful memories! Yes to the Christmas songs on the piano, odd but loved Christmas specials on TV, and eggnog from a carton.

A particular gift I recall is a pogo stick, which I proceeded to jump on, in the house, above my parents' bedroom . . . at 6am! But later in the day, my 50-something grandfather gave it a whirl, outside of course! What a memory.

Another special Christmas was nineteen years ago when we brought our first born home from the hospital, We took her to the midnight Christmas Eve service at church when she was two weeks old. Diagnosed with Celiac just last May, she is a thriving and happy college freshman now - aaah.

Now time to start baking those GF cookies before she gets home for break! Thanks so much Shauna...

At 10:00 AM, Blogger Crystal said...

A cookie I can ROLL??? Shauna, you're my hero.

I spent this morning trimming the sad little fake tree we bought last year, when we were so broke...It's grown on me, and I can be sentimental about it now. Christmas music on the stereo, blinds drawn so I can decorate by tree-light, that's always been the start of the holidays for me. Tree-light. Early morning tree-light. There's nothing else like it.

The star is on the coffee table, waiting for us to put it up together.

I don't have it handy, but I adapted a refrigerator cookie from Gourmet's holiday issue, 2006: pistachios and cranberries in a flaky sugar cookie... if I can find it, I'll pass it along.

At 11:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This will be my daughter's first gluten free Christmas. We got through Thanksgiving without a hitch. I was very worried about the sugar cookies, since we make them every year. I can't wait to try these. She's been very skiddish about baking since going gluten free but decorating the cookies will feel like old times.

Shauna, you make gluten free seem so much easier. Thank you.

At 11:27 AM, Blogger mechiko said...

We're trying to do a handmade Christmas this year. I'm knitting baby hats for pregnant friends, toddler mittens, dishcloths. It's not really the finished product that matters, it's the time and thoughts and well wishes that go into them as they emerge.
And those sugar cookies look delicious!

At 12:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was so discusted to hear what happened to that poor man and even more discusted when I heard that the Wal-Mart it happened at re-opened a few hours later.

We are right there with you on quieting down the holidays. It's all about cooking and relaxing at our house.

At 1:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My favorite Christmas gift was from my sister, Connie. Connie has ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) big time! She never was much of a cook because she is so distractable she can't follow a recipe. One year she decided to bake me a cake she read about in a magazine. She has to write out recipes and try to follow them by scratching out steps as they are done or she gets lost. If the phone rings or the dog barks it is all over for her and following the recipe. It took her three days to finally get a cake that came out, well, like cake. She tried to explain to me that the previous attempts just never got solid. God only knows what she did to them. It was lopsided but had really pretty sprinkles and tasted great! It was the best gift I ever got because it was all heart.

Happy Holidays!

At 2:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Shauna,
My favorite part of the holidays is getting together with 4 generations of family - from my 96 yr old grandmother to my 4 month old niece, with about 30 people between!

I made sugar cookies for Halloween with my daughters and it was so fun, except that I have to make them dairy, egg and soy-free in addition to gluten-free. Challenging. I may try your recipe this way -- it is never as good without the butter and eggs though!!

At 3:22 PM, Blogger Sally Anderson said...

When I think of past Christmases, I remember most the presents given, not received. I remember always thinking this year's tree is the prettiest ever. And best of all, the joy of having my girls home. I miss that now that they're grown and have families of their own.

At 3:38 PM, Blogger AutoSysGene said...

Ironically, I just wrote a post about this exact same thing. I'm glad to know I'm not the only one feeling this way at Christmas.

In fact, we finally put the thought in our head that this won't be the perfect Christmas...and I'm ok with that.

I always take away so much more from your blog then just a good recipe. Thank you.

At 4:41 PM, Blogger :: the monkey pod :: said...

beautiful. thank you for sharing.

p.s. our baby is 10 weeks old and sleeps four hour stretches at night, not too bad, but yes, I'm glaring at you. :) happy holidays.

At 5:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I doubt many reading your blog are as lazy as I can be about baking but we just got Gluten Freeda cookies frozen gluten free cookies in Atlanta. They are like Pillsbury cut and bake cookies because I cut the huge cookies into four parts to make small ones in only 12 minutes. The first time I tasted one I almost cried. I'd tried six other brands of frozen cookie gluten free doughs and this is the only one I found to taste 'normal'. Merry Christmas to you and yours...what a wonderful year it's been for you guys!

At 9:08 PM, Blogger Jeanne said...

Our daughter is a lot like you describe Little Bean to be. She would sleep through the night from a very early age and would babble and babble when she woke up. We would wake up and just watch her as she learned to sit up and chat. I started taping her voice because I didn't think that anything could be so wonderful to hear!

As she's grown, she's shown herself to be a strong, determined, and wonderful little girl. But, she's already (at 8) promised (of her own accord) to be a "good teenager". And I believe her. She carries through on all her other promises...:)

Happy gf holiday season!

At 10:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My favorite thing to do is to turn off all the lights except those on the Christmas tree and then sit or lie down close to it and just get lost in all that beauty. I have done this every year since childhood and it is always as magical as when I was a little girl. A special memory is that of giggling excitedly with my little sister on Christmas Eve in our bunk beds because the next day was her birthday, making it the double best day of the year! Poor sis always got a pumpkin pie with birthday candles because mom was too busy to bake a birthday cake.
Wishing you both a beautiful first Christmas with your precious daughter.

At 5:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My favorite gift of all time was one given to all of us by my niece. She stood up, talked about how she didn't have much money that year, was concerned about what to do for us, and, then happened to read the Little Prince, which gave her the idea of what to do. She read a portion of the book, and, then she handed each of us a very small gift bag with a tiny paste on bow on it. Inside was a handwritten, decorated list of 10 things she loves about each of us along with glitter, etc. I still have that little bag inside a bag (so as to not loose the glitter). The second best thing was seeing my fairly stoic doctor father get teary eyed.

At 7:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your post is as sweet as your cookies...very inspiring.

Joy is my hands-down go-to cookbook, the one most splattered and sporting a broken spine. Long live the Joy.

At 1:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is beautiful and just what I needed. Ive been frantic this past weeks worrying about the holidays and thanks to you I am reminded that I can just relax, and find happiness in just the simple things! Thank you so much, this is why I love coming back to your blog.

At 6:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lots of breath and good wishes for your deadline!
The best gift I think I have received is my Kitchen Aid mixer... for the experiences it has brought me in the kitchen and for the renewed excitement about food I felt when I first began baking gluten free after my diagnosis. Thanks for this recipe to try!
I will also always remember sitting in silence in the living room with only the Christmas tree lit on Christmas Eve. You are definitely right -- the best parts have nothing to do with money or hurry.
Merry Christmas to you and your family!

At 7:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Glad to hear you had such a wonderful holiday. I will definitely be trying the cookie recipe at home in a few weeks.


At 8:53 PM, Blogger Sheila Bocchine, Pursuit of Art said...

OHHHH I'm so glad I cleaned up my Google Reader today and refound your blog! Your book helped me get through so much.

Your writing is so beautiful. I could read your words for hours. Eagerly awaiting your new book!

Buy Original Signed Pinhole Photographs on ETSY

At 9:09 PM, Blogger ScienceGirl said...

One of my favorites 2 years ago was sipping gluehwein in the snow in Germany with really close friends. This year, I am making my own gluehwein!

And thank you for the holiday recipes - I married into a family of celiacs, and your recipes let me make seasonal treats everyone can enjoy!

At 5:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Even with all my disappointment with the commercialism of Christmas I never lost my Christmas spirit.
However, this year I was so heart broken after the tragedies on Black Friday I decided not to give gifts this year. Instead, for every gift I would have given I will donate an hour of my time to a local charity.

I must say my husband and I never give a lot for Christmas, we give to our friends and loved ones all throughout the year, Christmas is just an extention of our this time. We try to share our Christmas spirit to show others who are less fortunate that people care.

My most favorite memory of Christmas growing up, and now, is decorating the tree. There's something magical about a Christmas tree. And this year it will be planted in our yard afterward.

My favorite GF cookies are lace cookies. (with GF oats)

I've read your blog for a log time but I think this is the first time I've commented. Good luck on your holiday and your dead line.


At 5:26 PM, Blogger Sybil Nassau said...

Hold on tight to each other and savor the magic of each moment because we never do know if it will be the last. A year ago I had a huge family gathering for my husband who was home recuperating from surgery. Six weeks later he was gone. There is no Christmas for me this year, no joy and no happiness, but I look forward to baking those sugar cookies for a Holiday Cookie Swap next weekend. Give Little Bean a hug for me-- just another Nana2.many. Thank you for your warm wonderful writing and these glimpses into your lives!

At 6:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Delicious Cookies! I want some!

At 7:13 PM, Blogger Lauren Denneson said...

We must have been on the same wavelength - my first post-Thanksgiving post was about sugar cookie cutouts too!! Aren't they so enjoyable? Some of my favorite holiday memories are of baking cookies with my mom and sister and watching holiday movies such as White Christmas and By the Light of the Silvery Moon. Living far away from "home," I've actually purchased my own copies of those movies to watch, bringing a bit of "home" home.

At 9:08 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

I am totally with you on the deadline, Shauna! My manuscript is due to my publisher on January 2. This has been my reason for bowing out of pretty much everything!

Though I miss a few things about holiday preparations, that is outweighed by the relief I feel at keeping it truly simple. My 2 nods to the season are a delicious Christmas dinner and a donation to Salvation Army comparable to what I would have spent on everyone. I am so pleased that my family thought it was a great idea. Maybe everyone is becoming more aware of the need to keep it real.

As much pressure as I sometimes feel about this deadline, I am truly grateful to have it. How many authors would LOVE to have a publishing contract with a major publisher? How many would LOVE to have the pressure? I suspect you feel the same appreciation. You are obviously a very appreciative person--you couldn't write the way you do if not!

I want to make these cookies--your description is luscious and I've been dreaming of GF sugar cookies. Please advise as what to substitute for potato starch. Potato is a no-no for me (nightshade).

Merry Christmas to you, Danny, and Little Bean! Now--back to my writing!

At 7:25 AM, Blogger jbeach said...

Thank you for another lovely post. These cookies look and sound delicious. I know you're over the whole sending cookies thing, but this will be my first year doing so! Do you think these sugar cookies would be a good candidate for shipping?

At 7:49 AM, Blogger leapbanana said...

I love Christmas time (it has never been a stress for me)and I have several favorite traditions. One is getting the Christmas tree at a U-cut farm with friends and a whole day outside talking to the trees (this could be why I am called the crazy aunt) and figuring out which one wants to come home with us.

The second tradition was baking with my son. We went Gluten Free in November a few years back and I was scared to try a baking, gluten free was all new and a little scary if I got away from whole foods. I found a recipe for homemade dog biscuits, we don't have a dog but most of our friends do so we bought some new funny cookie cutters and away we went. We still got to hang in our tiny kitchen and give gifts to our friends before the big day. We loved it and so did our friends and their pets.

Shauna teaching loccally at PCC and this site has been a blessing for us - thank you.

At 8:46 AM, Blogger Karen M said...

I've really been enjoying your blog... I found it via "The Daily Green."

My daughter used to wake up singing and babbling to herself, too. It was lovely. (She's 33 now and has promised to make me some of your lemon olive oil cookies.) I plan to try and make your sugar cookies over the Christmas break... don't think I'll have time before then.

Today at work, I noticed that someone had left a copy of Bon Appetit from the summer in the kitchen. There was a very appetizing photo of some hush puppies. Have either you or the chef attempted a GF version yet?

At 4:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You read my mind! I was wondering how to do sugar cookies. Yay!

At 9:53 PM, Blogger Jill said...

I did it! I made your sugar cookies! They are yummy and darn easy! I've never had much luck with cut out cookies so didn't have much hope for these. When I pulled the pan full of perfectly baked cut out cookies out of the oven I almost cried! And they taste great! I can't keep my hands (or eyes or mouth) off of them. I think I'll make more this weekend :)

At 10:18 AM, Blogger mandalins4 said...

I can't eat sugar so I'm wondering if anyone has tried substituting stevia or agave nectar for sugar? If so, could you give me some advice on proportions and texture/consistency.

At 3:28 AM, Blogger chris said...

Wow. I couldn't quite get past the sleep thing! You are so lucky. My kids didn't sleep well until they stopped nursing!

What a good baby.

At 9:47 AM, Blogger Healthy Frugal Mom said...

I have a question. I am actively trying to be good with my Crohns and would like to make sugar cookies. I don't have individual flours, but do have Bob's Red Mill Bread mix....could I use that as the flours for the sugar cookies, or would that turn out weird? Thanks!

At 12:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

These sound great, and I can't wait to try them.

Hot holiday cookie tip: I just tweaked the Vanilla Almond Sugar Cookie recipe on the back of the Bob's RM coconut flour with excellent results. I think coconut flour may be the secret to cookies that don't spread too far, hold together well, and have a good texture.

To me, these are a cross between snickerdoodles and pecan sandies, and don't taste anything like coconut (though with shredded coconut and coconut extract I bet you could go in that direction). Even my husband, who has a tendency to grumble about the gluten free baking experiments, agrees that these are delicious by any standards. There are also no eggs, making it these an easy vegan choice.

I tried subbing a 1/4 cup of coconut flour in Shauna's great oatmeal cookie recipe, and they didn't spread at all- they were like little cookie nuggets. Next time I will actually flatten the cookies before baking and might try NOT refrigerating them.

Here's the Bob's Red Mill revised sugar cookie recipe:
1 c sugar
1/2 butter (or substitute)
1/3 hemp milk (or other "milk", Bob's calls for soy)
2 tsp vanilla
3/4 c white rice flour
1/3 c coconut flour (DO NOT SUB!!!)
2 T Potato Starch
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1 t cinnamon (not in Bob's recipe)
1/2 c pecans (Bob's calls for almonds, in which case I would use almond extract to boost flavor and leave out the cinnamon).
A little sugar to sprinkle on top.

Preheat oven to 350. Cream butter and sugar for two minutes in electric mixer, add vanilla and milk. Beat one more minute. Mix dry ingredients (except nuts) in separate bowl. Add dry ingredients to wet and mix briefly to combine. The batter should be moist and fluffy. Stir in nuts. Drop onto greased cookie sheet, sprinkle sugar on top of drop cookies and gently flatten with the bottom of a glass. Bake 10-12 minutes, cool before eating.

At 3:09 PM, Blogger said...

Shauna, your sugar cookies look fantastic----do you think i could substitute authentic foods gf classical blend flour and save myself the trouble of buying and measuring all the flours you have listed? If yes, how much flour would you use?

At 7:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the cookie recipe, but I wonder if anyone can explain the curious reaction they've gotten. They taste great to me, and tasted fine to several other people who tried them over the holidays. But three people (including my wife) found them very objectionable, to the point of spitting them out and rinsing their mouths out quickly. Any thoughts on what ingredient could trigger that response in some people? Maybe the amaranth?

At 7:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sophie and I loved the cookies, she was thrilled to have some cookies to decorate for Christmas. We also turned the dough into "gingerbread houses, although we made birdhouses to decorate and eat. It was an entirely different look, but just as fun to cover with candy, admire, then inhaled by a 6 year old.

At 6:33 PM, Blogger Bake and Run said...

Now I know this is quite an old post but...I couldn't find a newer one that related to my "issues" (it has to do with cookies).

SO...the other day, I made a batch of simple gf cookies that were made with brown rice, garbanzo, and fava flour. After taking them out of the oven, they were super-moist with a great melt-in-your-mouth texture, yet they would not hold together. (One could not pick it up like a cookie -- when part of it was held, it would just come off the rest of it.) And I DID use xanthan gum, 1.5 tsp. So I was just wondering if you'd have the time for any suggestions.
Thank you,

At 12:49 PM, Anonymous Kathy said...

PLEASE (okay pretty please) stop saying Lu's going to be a difficult teenager. My first child was a lot like Lu.

In hindsight I called Teresa the "Stepford Daughter" because she was so well behaved (the children that came after her were a handful and then some!). She was not a difficult teen at all...amazingly good, actually.

And now she's going to school to become a chef at the Seattle Art Institute so she really can't be all that bad now, can she?

Just don't jinx your darling daughter by saying she'll become a difficult teenager. You don't want to create a self-fulfilling prophecy!

But I bet Lu will be just fine. It'll be the siblings that will do you in!

I love it when you write about her...almost like being there...

At 5:44 AM, Anonymous Sonja J. said...

Shauna and Danny,

You are my heroes. This year is our first holiday season hosting at our new home, and I needed a sugar cookie recipe taht I could eat too.

I did a test run of these this weekend, and my gluten-eating husband inhaled 5 almost before they were frosted. (Direct quote being "I'm going to have a few more of those. They're addictive.")

So thank you!!
Happy Holidays,

At 5:48 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Just made a batch of the sugar cookies, first time I've tried baking gluten free without a mix. Very easy, and so delicious! Thanks for sharing the recipe!!

At 12:51 PM, Anonymous Karen said...

I had my son's (who is gluten intolerant) class Halloween party to make cookies and cupcakes for this afternoon and I've never been totally happy with my other GF sugar cookies I've made so thought I'd wing it and give yours a shot. They turned out just beautiful! I didn't have time to refrig overnight so I put the wrapped dough in the freezer for 40 minutes and it came out perfect! The parchment paper was a great idea, I needed to dust the paper minimally with the sweet rice flour and roll the dough ball in it before rolling or it would stick. They didn't spread all out of shape like my other recipe. I used a soy butter (my other daughter is milk intolerant). Changed the recipe to 1 cup sweet rice flour, 1 cup tapoica and 1/2 cup sorghum because I didn't have the amarinth or potato starch on hand. Thanks so much for sharing, this will be my new Christmas sugar cookie recipe!!!

At 1:11 PM, Blogger Mama said...

My Mom sent my celiac 18 yo son your cookbook as a gift. Immediately, he read it from cover to cover, and the very same evening, he took one of the recipes (for a pork roast stew I think)and did a version of it with loin chops, and the veges separate on the side, with the same seasonings in the recipe. It was awesome! The book I read also, and it is lovely, easy to read, and full of instructions that my non cook son could master lovely dishes on his own! I am eager for him to try this sugar cookie recipe, as his brother and sister had bought theirs from Wal Mart, and he was unable to enjoy them because they were made from wheat flour.
I am grateful for your contribution to the gluten free community. Your recipe book as ignited a passion in my son for cooking! (That will give me a break)!

At 10:36 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Hey Shauna, Great recipe. I'm wondering if I can use the "All purpose gf flour" (that you suggest for the 2010 xmas baking) in this recipe? Many thanks.


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