Learn how to cook — try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless,
and above all have fun.
A few Cultivating issues ago, I listed Robert Farrar Capon’s The Supper of the Lamb – A Culinary Reflection as one of my forever favorite books. His deep admiration for thoughtful cooking, along with his personal reflections on food and the nature of hospitality, inspire me at every read. Like Capon, I have collected vintage cookbooks for most of my life. My Betty Crocker’s New Boys and Girls Cook Book, circa 1965, was my very first treasury of recipes. I read it like a storybook back then, and we still use many of the recipes.
Capon describes his love of old recipes from a moment in his childhood. He writes:
History books left me cold, but I had only to open an old cookbook to find myself standing some other place or time. “Listen to this,” I said, opening an old tome with suggestions for dinner on a hot summer evening. I read the first recipe, an appetizer made of lemon gelatin poured into a banana skin filled with little banana balls. “‘When opened, the banana looks like a mammoth yellow pea pod,'” I concluded triumphantly. “Can you imagine a world in which that sounds like a good idea?” I could.
Old recipes transport us to a different time of lavish amounts of butter, strange pairings with jello, and plating with the signature lettuce leaf and parsley sprig. As I considered which cookie recipe to feature in this Christmas issue, I sorted through several old standards: rolled sugar cookies, gingerbread men, shortbread, and chocolate drops. Then I found my childhood favorite jotted out on a card and my memories of Christmas cooking in our little kitchen came flooding back. These Wreath Cookies were a family favorite because they were simple with basic ingredients, quick to make, festive on a plate, and required no baking. You might think that they contain an excessive amount of butter, but they are gloriously chewy and stay that way! There is a time and place for the fancy cookies with royal icing piped in swirls; but there is also a time for delighting in simplicity. As we all navigate through the holidays, think “this year I will keep it simple and be content,” then begin by paring down the elaborate cooking and try a simple, old-fashioned treat. This recipe comes from the era of the gelatin-filled banana skin that Capon mentions and it couldn’t be more whimsical.
Makes 14 cookies
1 stick butter
30 large marshmallows
4 c. corn flakes
Green food coloring
Cinnamon red hot candies
Melt butter in a heavy saucepan over medium-low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until melted. Drip in 6-8 drops of food coloring, mix, then add corn flakes and combine gently until coated.
Drop 1/4 cup of mixture on the sheet of wax paper, moisten fingers with a bit of water, and form into a circular wreath shape. Decorate with 3-4 cinnamon candies. The cookies will firm up as they cool or you can chill them in the fridge for a few minutes.
The humblest tasks get beautified if loving hands do them.
— Louisa May Alcott, Little Women
The featured image is courtesy of Annie Nardone and used with her kind permission for Cultivating.
Annie Nardone is a bibliophile, author, and adventurer who seldom travels with a map because joy is discovered in the journey! Inspired byExodus 31:1-5, she believes that, like Bezalel, we are gifted by God with “ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship” to create as a reflection of our Creator God. Her sincere belief is in the reintegration of the arts with the Christian imagination, guiding people to train their eyes and minds to see holiness in everyday life.
She holds a MA in Cultural Apologetics from Houston Christian University, and is a Fellow with the C.S. Lewis Institute. Annie writes for Cultivating, Literary Life, and Clarendon House Books, and is a managing editor and writer for An Unexpected Journal. Annie collaborated on three books in 2022, published by Square Halo Books and The Rabbit Room. She recently designed a curriculum detailing the intersection of theology, the arts, and history and is a Master Teacher for HSLDA. She resides in Florida with her Middle Earth/Narnia/Hogwarts-loving family, and an assemblage of sphynx cats and feline foundlings.
A Field Guide to Cultivating ~ Essentials to Cultivating a Whole Life, Rooted in Christ, and Flourishing in Fellowship
Enjoy our gift to you as our Welcome to Cultivating! Discover the purpose of The Cultivating Project, and how you might find a "What, you too?" experience here with this fellowship of makers!