The Cookie Room

Posted: December 18, 2013 in Uncategorized
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By Tricia Lunt, English Faculty.

Of the many charming Lunt Family Holiday traditions, “The Cookie Exchange” is among the best. The cookie room is the cookie exchange’s attendant miracle: it manifests itself and disappears in a matter of minutes, just like Santa!

ImageMy mother is an excellent baker, and she taught all five of her daughters most of her secrets. My mom always liked to be friendly with the neighbors, too, and from that serendipitous combination of baking and friendly-neighborliness emerged the tradition known and the Lunt Family Cookie Exchange.

Lots of families coordinate cookie exchanges. The special ingredient in our exchange is my mom’s attention to detail and unwavering commitment to quality. Mary Ellen treats the cookie exchange with the utmost importance.

Thus, there are rules of the cookie exchange. Each participant (my mom, my four sisters, my sister-in-law, I and etc.) must bring at least two varieties of cookies. There must also be three dozen cookies of each variety (no skimping!). These aren’t the guidelines; these are the rules.

Clearly, we’re talking about a lot of cookies; six bakers contribute no less than six dozen individual cookies, quite often more as someImage of the sisters will make three varieties. The result: approximately 500 homemade cookies that converge inside my mother’s house on one day in December, transforming the family room for a few hours into “The Cookie Room.”

For at least the past 25 years, recipients of the cookie platters have delighted in the signature delights of The Lunt Ladies cookie skill set. My mom makes the difficult varieties because she is by far the best baker, and is the queen of sugar-coated self-sacrifice. Her cookies are the most beautiful, and most delicious. Mary Ellen makes the delicate lady locks, tiny fruit-filled kolatche, and miniature pecan tarts. My oldest sister, Betsy, has perfected the Hershey kiss cookie. They look absolutely flawless. Her other favorite to make (and eat, I believe) is the seven-layer cookie: a variety that includes chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, coconut, and four more equally sweet layers. Barbara bakes pecan puffs and oatmeal scotchies and buckeyes. Margo makes snicker doodles and brownies. Theresa contributes candy cane kisses and Oreos dipped in white chocolate and sprinkles. Sherry (a Lunt by marriage) is more adventurous and artistic, and creates new cookies every year, often intricately decorated. Someone makes pocketbooks. I bring my two signature holiday delights: fudge, which is the same recipe I learned to make with Jenny Couch when we were 16, and gingerbread a tradition I borrowed from my friend Ingrid’s family.

Constructing the cookie trays involves guidelines. The required amount of cookie trays is 24 (more precision!). Holiday music ought to be playing in the kitchen, but is not required. The lights and ornaments on the Christmas tree should be shining in the window. Ample plates and platters and clear plastic wrap and colorful bows must be gathered and distributed. Any person present in the Lunt house on cookie exchange day will be handed a platter and instructed to pile cookies on top of it, circling the room clockwise, selecting four cookies of each kind during the initial pass to ensure equal dispersal. Heavier, larger cookies are plated first; the prized lady locks always perch on top. According to my sister-in-law, all this exactitude results in a stressful evening, but I can’t imagine what she means.

Hand delivered to neighbors, friends, colleagues, and family, the spoils of “The Cookie Exchange” are an exquisite array of holiday temptation, lightly dusted with powdered sugar.


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