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Viewpoint: Christmas memories dunked in powdered sugar

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For the Eastern Star cookie sale at the Masonic Lodge in St. Paul Park, daughter Margie, who is a member, volunteered to make rosettes.

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For those of you who don’t make rosettes, a Scandinavian cookie, it’s really, really time and labor intensive. With a rosette iron attached to a handle, the iron is heated on the stove until it’s medium hot. Then, it’s dipped in a batter and put in oil to get crisp. They rest on paper towels to dry.

The result is a delicate cookie that is dipped in powdered sugar.

With Margie doing the frying, followed by me dunking them in the sugar, we made 250 and they all sold in less than an hour.

I have a pan dedicated to making rosettes. After we made them for last year’s sale, I looked at the pan and said it would forever more, because it was a mess, be reserved for rosettes.

The house smelled like the Minnesota State Fair.

I double-sugared the rosettes one year. They got soggy. Once your Swedish grandmother gives you the recipe, it’s best not to make revisions.

When my great-grandmother made them, it was considered a “peasant food.” Poor people had plenty of milk and eggs. They didn’t have a lot of flour and had very little sugar. A small amount of batter made a lot of rosettes.

There’s a joke about a Lutheran minister at Christmas. You can tell who he is by the powdered sugar on the front of his vestments.

With powdered sugar everywhere in the kitchen, we covered the dining room table with rosettes, which was also covered with sugar.

As we got to the end, I told Margie she needed to make 50 more. But she got compulsive and did more. “You have to stop now,” I told here.

There was some batter left.

“Why don’t we make a fennel cake out of it,” I said.

“I think that’s a funnel cake,” she said. “Fennel is an herb that tastes like licorice.”

After spending all day with the rosettes, I started to laugh at my mistake. “Let’s see if it will make a fennel cake,” I said.

We poured the batter into the oil. It floated into pieces with a big blob in the middle that got bigger as it fried.

“It doesn’t look like a fennel cake,” Margie said.

“Or a funnel cake, either,” I said.

This Christmas, I won’t remember the rush to mail packages or getting the right present for everyone, but I will remember a day spent laughing with Margie and all of the rosettes.

Retired Bulletin reporter Judy Spooner writes an occasional column for the newspaper.

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