Tuesday, December 06, 2005

The Twelve Days of Kiefle

Last Sunday was our annual Holiday Cookie Bake. Christmas is about Jesus and then family, but right after those two things, I think it may be about a little cookie called Kiefle (pronounced Kee-flee). It is one of the many that we make during the daylong event.

Kiefle can hardly be called a cookie. A Kiefle is a 2-inch long crescent of cream cheese based dough, filled with a citrusy, amber-colored mixture of chopped fruit and nuts that is almost like mincemeat, but much lighter. The whole thing is baked until lightly browned on top. The moment you eat a Kiefle with a cup of hot coffee is full of joy and surprise, like when Luke Skywalker and Princess Leah finally realize they are siblings.

It is not the easiest cookie to make. I think it was introduced to the Cookie Bake by one of John's work friends in 2003. Duane said this year that he was surprised it has lasted this long. Making the dough and the filling is not the hard part. The shaping is. Because the dough contains cream cheese it is very sticky. All of the steps-- rolling the dough into one-inch balls and then flattening them by hand into little 3-inch circles, then stuffing and sealing the filling inside--have to happen outside in the freezing cold to keep the dough stiff. We make about 65 of Kiefle, so it is not a quick process.

Team Kiefle (my friend Julie, who sadly was not able to be with us this year, came up with the name) puts on their coats and goes on to the back porch to work their magic in the 20-something degree air. They have to work in stages with hand-warming breaks dotted here and there--pinching and rolling requires only one hand-warming break, however, flattening and stuffing requires about four.

Though no one works slowly in that kind of cold you do have time to talk and chat. This year, Dave made up a Team Kiefle handshake. We also debated how much the Madonna's appearance in a Kiefle might fetch on E-bay (surely the effort Kiefle requires would make it more valuable than a piece of toast). The Madonna of the Kiefle discussion lasted through a couple of warming breaks. Kathy and Callie, do you think you might get Mike to preach a sermon on this topic?

Eventually the work is done. The hands return from the edge of frostbite and we can sample from the dozens of other kinds of cookies that were in the process of baking while we visited Siberia. There are a few more cold stories to share at next year's Cookie Bake-and best of all LOTS OF KIEFLE until Christmas, if they last that long.

I had so much fun this year, always do I guess. I like the Cookie Bake because cooking together allows so many opportunities for little intimate conversations. Our home is never more toasty and full of life, and never smells better than on this day. It is filled with the kind of family and friends who like to create and talk and don't mind washing a dish, getting their hands dirty, or even rolling dough in freezing temperatures. The kind who gladly bring their best cookie sheets and then leave them here for me to hoard until they can pry them out of our kitchen again. These are the kind of folks one is thankful for throughout the year.


Anonymous Sally said...

As someone who got to enjoy the fruits of your labor, thank you for the cookies, they were delish!

12:45 PM  
Anonymous David said...

As someone who labored, I am happy that the treats were enjoyed...it was without a doubt, a Christmas memory I will forever cherish. I will send my Med-Check bill for frost bite to John! Can't wait for
"Cookie Bake 2006".

1:13 PM  
Blogger juliebelle said...

A shake?!
Man am I sad that I missed a shake.

I was in Chicago sometime last winter when a Madonna was sighted in the condensation dripping down on the underbelly of an overpass.

Prayer vigils, the whole nine yards.

Perhaps we could light candles and count rosarys around Team Kiefle next year......

2:46 PM  

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