Christmas cookies have always been a huge deal in my family. The cookie spread my Grandma Mary put out included Russian tea cookies (I know, I know, technically they’re called “cakes”) — seven-layer cookies made only after a call to me to remind her which of the seven layers I don’t like — plus nut rolls, pizzelles and the eventually-phased-out french waffles.
In the years since my grandma’s passing, we’ve tried to recreate some of these cookies, and we’ve come to a few conclusions. First, it’s an insane amount of work for one person and I think it was always just her when we were kids. Next, these cookies — which could be found stowed away under her bed before the holiday — were not there because she was hiding them from us. They were there for storage because she made them so far in advance to account for the work load they demand. We’ve concluded that the cookies marinating, if you will, under the bed is why no matter what, our cookies never taste exactly like those made by my grandma.
These revelations spawned a cookie-making party at my sister’s house every year where my cousins join her and my Mom and aunt in trying to keep the tradition alive. The last couple of years, I’ve received a package in the mail with an assortment of these cookies and — pro tip — the pizzelles never survive.
My youngest not only loves to bake, but he loves to watch people bake on TV. For what it’s worth, he also likes to watch people cook food he would never touch in a million years — i.e. protein and vegetables. We’ve now added “Holiday Baking Championship” and “Christmas Cookie Challenge” to our Food Network rotation.
Baking is tricky and more precise than the kind of cooking I enjoy, so while I like helping him learn how to bake, it doesn’t come naturally. It’s also not something I ever really planned on doing. Since my grandma isn’t around any longer and my sister who bakes is 1,000 miles away, we are tasked with teaching my kid how to bake. My husband has baked a couple of apple pies with him and I’ve done some muffins and cookies, but that is about as far as we can take him. So, I decided to look for some local professional help, and I was honestly shocked to find it.
Jo-Ann Fabrics on 196th/Hwy 99 offers classes on their website, though it seems the cake decorating classes are held at other locations, including Bellevue. They do offer a lot of other kinds of classes at the Lynnwood location including kids classes for sewing or holiday crafts. Michaels offers Wilton brand cake decorating classes, also found on their website, at their Lynnwood location which is next to Marshall’s on Alderwood Mall Boulevard.
I also found a place called Dawn’s Candy & Cake in the H-Mart shopping center in Lynnwood. Because I don’t have all the baking lingo down and I am on the lookout for baking-related holiday gifts, I decided to go check out the shop and I was not disappointed. First, they have all of the tools seen on the Food Network baking shows that fill our DVR — tools I had no idea existed before seeing those competition shows. They have a million different cake pans and cookie cutters plus all sparkly, sugary decorations in all the colors imaginable that allow the competition bakers to make cookies that look like Santa’s face or a life-like poinsettia.
After asking a bunch of questions about the different classes (you can find a descriptions of their classes on their website), I was offered a caramel truffle completed in a recent class that the owner, Dawn, had done with family members, and it was both tasty and beautiful. The classes are just what I was looking for; Chocolate 101, $25 a person, allows you to make your own chocolate candies or the basic cake class where you will learn how to “put a nice finished coat on your buttercream frosted cakes” and “use basic piping techniques to frost your cake.” They have a lot of options on their class schedule and also offer birthday parties or private gatherings. To find more information or to register for classes you can visit DawnsCandyandCake.com or call 425-348-9380.
Another pleasant surprise of this holiday season has been checking out the calendar on EdmondsHolidays.com. Right in one place is a month-long calendar of local events that range from free to spendy, such as from watching a Christmas Ship to riding on a Christmas Ship. You can find that Holiday trolley, which will include Buddy the Elf as your “host” this year, will run every 30 minutes on 12/2, 12/9, 12/16 and 12/23 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
You can also get information on Swamp Creek & Western Railroad Association Holiday Open House Dec. 2 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. I had no idea this was even a thing and it sounds pretty amazing. Visitors are welcome to watch members operate their HO scale model trains across a holiday-inspired layout.
If you are unable to make it on the 2nd, there are two more shots to visit during their monthly open house, the third Tuesday of the month and again on Dec. 26. This is event is held in the old freight room of the Edmonds Amtrak BNSF station, 210 Railroad Ave. Details can be found on the Swamp Creek & Western Railroad Association website.
Incorporate music into your holiday celebration with some performances at Red Twig on the outdoor patio. On Thursday, Dec. 7 at 6 p.m. you can check out the Edmonds Holiday Caroling Contest. If you’re so inclined to form a group and come up with a “catchy, holiday-themed name,” you’re going to have to wait until next year as registration has been closed. There are five groups chosen, so if you decide to come and watch and have kids, it shouldn’t be too long. On Thursday, Dec. 14 at 6 p.m., you can hear the Edmonds-Woodway High School Saxophone Quartet and the following Thursday at 6 p.m., the 21st, you can catch the Jazz Trio — both groups are part of the award-winning Edmonds- Woodway jazz band. You can visit the calendar on EdmondsHolidays.com for more information.
I got an email from Lynnwood Parks and Recreation saying that they will be hosting “Camp Holidaze” for kids ages 6 to 13 from Dec. 18-22 at the Cedar Valley Gym. You can sign up for just one full day, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., or the whole week and hang out with some of the camp counselors you know from Kamp Kookamonga. Each day includes a field trip to places like the Lynnwood Rec Center pool, Lynnwood Ice Center for ice skating, or Pump it Up to jump on the inflatables. We have done camp through Lynnwood and are always happy at the level of care and safety protocols they follow. You can register by calling the Lynnwood Recreation Center at 425-670-5732.
If you’re looking to see Santa and walking past the J.C. Penney to see St. Nick doesn’t fit the bill, I’ve got some great out-of-the-mall options!
For the next two weekends, Dec. 2-3 and 9-10 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., you can attend the Northwest African American Museum’s Black Santa Visit. The museum, located at 2300 S. Massachusetts St. in Seattle, will have a host of activities to entertain the kiddos while you wait to take your photos, including arts and crafts and a movie screening.” The museum suggests getting your RSVP tickets HERE, which can be used to skip to the front of the line when you arrive. There is no cost to get your spot in line with an RSVP ticket, which along with picture packages, can be found on the NAAM Black Santa Visit Facebook Event Page. For questions you can contact the Museum at 206-516-6000.
Two different museums next to Paine Field are having Santa events this weekend. On Saturday, Dec. 2 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. you can head to the Flying Heritage and Combat Armor Museum for “Tanks Giving.” Amongst hot cocoa, face painting and Gingerbread Tank decorating, Santa will arrive by tank to take pictures with the kids. Pictures are free once you pay admission, which you can also do by donating the requested items for “Teen Feed.” You can find details, included requested donation items on the Tanksgiving Facebook Event Page or by calling the Museum at 206-342-4243.
Santa is arriving by air Sunday, Dec. 3 from noon to 2 p.m. at The Historic Flight Foundation. The Historic Flight Holiday Celebration with Santa includes arts and crafts, the sounds of The Dickens Carolers, free photos with Santa, a Toys for Tots drive, a raffle for free membership, and games, with the price of admission. For more information you can visit the Historic Flight Holiday Celebration Facebook Event Page or call 425-348-3200.
— By Jennifer Marx
Jen Marx, a mom of two young boys, is always looking for a fun place to take the kids that makes them tired enough to go to bed on time. You can find her on Twitter trying to make sense of begging kids to ”just eat the mac n cheese.”