I’m sure every family has holiday traditions when it comes to food (one of my favorite subjects).
One that we had in our family was my grandmother’s Christmas cookies, called “Christmas Lizzies.” It turns out that a “lizzie” is a type of cookie but I’ve only seen recipes for Christmas Lizzies.
It’s basically a fruit cake in cookie form. Oh, and my grandmother was called ‘Budgie.’
As a kid, I’d know Christmas was right around the corner when packages of dates, raisins, walnuts, and candied fruit in various colors would appear in Budgie's kitchen.
I don’t know what started Budgie making these Christmas lizzies and I don’t recall anyone actually enjoying them a great deal. After all, they were basically fruit cake in cookie form; hardly as appetizing as, say, a chocolate chip cookie.
The thing that was so unique about Budgie’s Christmas lizzies was that the recipe called for 8 oz. of Mogen David concord grape wine. And we were strict Southern Baptists. And Southern Baptists are totally, without a doubt against drinking alcohol or even attending an event where alcohol is served.
Southern Baptists have the reputation for being against dancing. I can tell you that that’s not true. They don’t have anything against dancing per se. After all, it was Budgie who taught me how to dance with a girl when I was 13, and she could do one hell of a Charleston.
No, it's not dancing they're against. It’s just that where ever dancing takes place, there’s alcohol.
Bowling is a very questionable activity for Southern Baptists. There’s always beer served at bowling alleys.
Here's a joke: (my own, thank you)
Q: Why are Southern Baptists against pre-marital sex?
A: Because it could lead to drinking!
So, I remember when Budgie would start making the batter for the lizzies. A hush would fall over the house as she would bring out the bottle of Mogen David from its Secret Hiding Place in her kitchen. It was pretty ominous. Really.
Oh, and I have to tell you that it was always pretty funny regarding the means by which she’d obtain the bottle of wine. After all, this was a town of 1,700 people and it had one liquor store. There was no way Budgie could be seen in there, for crying out loud.
One bottle of Mogen David would make about three recipes of lizzies. So, it was a tradition that every three years, our next door neighbor, Letitia, who was a dear friend of Budgie’s, would buy it for her.
After all, they were Presbyterians.
Anyway, here is Budgie’s recipe for Christmas Lizzies:
2 1/2 cups golden raisins
1 1/4 cups chopped dates
1 cup Mogen David concord grape wine
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 pound light brown sugar
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 cups chopped walnuts
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
1 pound red and green candied cherries, halved
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare cookie sheets by lining with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, toss together the golden raisins and dates with the wine; set aside.
2. In a large bowl, cream together the sugar and butter. Add the eggs one at a time, mix until light and fluffy. Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg; stir into the creamed mixture. Stir in the walnuts, pecans, cherries, and finally, the raisin and wine mixture.
3. Drop cookies by rounded tablespoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Cool on the baking sheet for 1 minute before removing to cool on wire racks.
Labels: Christmas Lizzies