A Cold Shoulder for Frosty

By Joe Earle

A family’s holiday traditions can grow from the oddest seeds. A kid says something funny at Christmas breakfast that then must be repeated at every subsequent Christmas breakfast until he or she reaches retirement. A banana hung on a young couple’s first holiday tree petrifies and then must reappear on the family’s holiday trees for years. A decoration Grandma bought on impulse at Woolworths becomes a display that gets pride of place year after year.

And then there’s Frosty. He’s my holiday tradition. My parents bought Frosty when I was a child and he decorated our front porch during the holiday season when I was a boy. He’s made of plastic, stands about 2 ½ feet tall from toe to top hat and glows joyfully from the 60-watt bulb within.

After my parents died, Frosty moved to our house. I thought he would delight my family. I was wrong.

His reception in our home has been, well, about as warm as his name. My kids only tolerate Frosty. My wife has no use for him at all; she finds him, in a word, tacky. If I didn’t climb up into the attic every Christmas and fetch him myself, Frosty wouldn’t show up among the many lovely decorations that fill our home each holiday season.

But when the holidays come around again this year, I fully intend for Frosty to be glowing in one corner of the house or another, welcoming the season and reminding me of home. He’s my tradition, if no one else’s.

The Cookie Connection

By Kathy Dean

In our family, Christmas means cookies. My sister and I grab the holiday magazines as soon as they hit the shelves, just as our mother did, and look for new cookies to bake.

There’s one cookie that’s a must—our grandmother’s kifle (pronounced KEY-flea, meaning crescent). It’s a sweet dough stuffed with poppyseed, apricot or walnut fillings. Through the years, we’ve dropped the walnut and substituted raspberry, plum or blueberry, depending on what we can find at the store.

Kifle was one of the recipes Grandma brought from Hungary, so we suspect it has a long history in our family. When she was in her 80s, Grandma agreed to share the recipe with me. I expected her to dig out a well-worn scrap of paper.

There was no recipe card. It was stored in her memory, and the measurements were given to me in pinches, handfuls and half-a-bowls. I did my best to translate it into U.S. pre-metric terms, though I still feel I’m guessing at the whole process.

And it is a process—this is no simple cookie. It involves dissolving yeast in warm milk, adding flour and letting it rise overnight. The dough is mixed, rolled and cut to size, then filled and folded before baking.

The ingredients are heart-stopping—a pound of butter, half a dozen egg yolks and a cup of sour cream. It’s still better than the version I found in a 1954 cookbook, which called for beef suet instead of butter.

One recipe yields 200 cookies, not nearly enough by my mother’s reckoning.

Easy Kifle

This isn’t Grandma’s original recipe, but my sister’s simplified version.

  • 12 egg yolks, but save the egg whites for later
  • 1 pound butter
  • 8 ounces sour cream
  • 5-6 cups flour
  • 4-6 cans Solo brand cake/pastry fillings in apricot, almond, poppyseed, prune, plum or other fruit and nut flavors
  1. Beat together the yolks, butter and sour cream. Gradually beat in the flour. Separate into 4 to 8 parts, wrap in plastic wrap or plastic bags and refrigerate overnight.
  2. The next day, let the dough warm up to room temperature. Roll out one part of the dough until 1/8-inch or so thick, a bit thicker than paper. Cut into squares (about 2-inch x 2-inch) and lay ½ teaspoon of filling from one corner to the opposite end. Wrap and bend into crescent, using a dab of egg white between the layers of dough to seal them.
  3. Place on ungreased cookie sheets and brush each cookie with egg whites; leave about ¼-inch between cookies. Bake at 350 degrees until cookies are lightly browned (10-12 minutes). Cool and dust with sifted powdered sugar.

Makes about 200 cookies.

Joe Earle

Joe Earle is Editor-at-Large. He has more than 30-years of experience with daily newspapers, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.