A GRACE FILLED JOURNEY • Hutson Cookies Are A Family Tradition

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In our family, the end of summer always means one thing: it's time for the Hutson Family reunion.

For as long as I can remember (though maybe not my whole life), my mom's brothers and sisters - she has seven - and their families, have met at various locations for a reunion on Labor Day.

It's always a day to catch up with cousins, look through old pictures and eat. . . a lot. But no Hutson family reunion would be complete without my Aunt Cathy's cheesy potatoes and vanilla cookie press cookies. 

Those are the two things you will find at every reunion, and they're always the first to be gone. At Hutson reunions, you'd better plan to eat dessert first, or you just might not get any Hutson cookies at all!

When I went to look up the recipe in the Hutson family cookbook, I had to smile at the note typed at the bottom. It read, "recipe yields four dozen . Make a double or triple batch or it won't be enough." 

True story. I'm not sure how many cookies my aunt makes each reunion, but they're always all gone.

As my cousins and I have grown up and brought significant others to family gatherings, we always joke that there are two rites of passage into the Hutson family. The first is passing a quiz of names of the more than 50 or 60 in attendance. And the second is that he or she has to like Hutson cookies.

Kyle passed both tests, and though Hutson cookies are probably not his favorite cookie, he does still enjoy some at the reunion. 

Because my aunt makes them for the reunions, I've actually only tried my hand at making them once. They turned out pretty well, but they're definitely a cookie that requires practice to make. And my aunt would tell you they turn out better if you can find an older, metal version of a cookie press, rather than the newer plastic ones. She often checks thrift stores for them to make sure anyone in the family that wants one, has one. I was a lucky recipient one Christmas, and after digging out the recipe, I think Charley and I will have to try our hand at them sometime soon.

With the nutmeg, the cookies are sometimes an acquired taste, and not one everyone enjoys, but these small, brightly colored cookies will always remind me how lucky I am to have such a wonderful family. 

Vanilla Cookies

Ingredients

1/2 cup shortening

1 cup sugar

2 eggs beaten light

1 tablespoon Milnot

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

2 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

food coloring

1. Cream shortening and sugar thoroughly.

2. Add eggs, Milnot and vanilla extract.

3. Sift dry ingredients and add to creamed mixture; mix well.

4. Divide dough and color. You may have to add flour until it can be handled without sticking to your hands. Fill a cookie press and form cookies on ungreased cookie sheets. 

(You may fill two ways. 1: add dough ball of one color, then another, then another to fill the press. 2: Make three dough rolls, about as long as the cookie press, and lay them side-by-side to fill the press. By adding dough these two ways, different patterns can be made.

Brush lightly with Milnot for a shiny cookie. You may add sprinkles, etc.

5. Bake at 400 degrees for eight to ten minutes, or until just slightly brown on bottom.

Note: Recipe yields four dozen. Make a double or triple batch or it won't be enough.

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