Heritage Recipes – Aunties, Sprinkles and the Santa-in-His-Cap Cookie Cutter

I’m blessed to have oodles of oft-used and much loved heritage recipes and cookbooks from the ladies in my family who came before me. But I’m not the only Lisa who does. I’ve invited my good friend Lisa Alzo to visit with you here on the Genealogy Gems blog.

Lisa is the author of Baba’s Kitchen and a well known genealogy lecturer.

She’s has also presented genealogy sessions at the Genealogy Gems booth at national genealogy conferences. 

In today’s post, Lisa Alzo is  generously sharing one of her mouthwatering holiday heritage recipes, and, most importantly, the loving genealogical story behind it.

So preheat your oven, pour a glass of eggnog, and spend some time with Lisa and her Aunties:heritage recipes cookbook

Reflecting on Family Traditions

“I’ve been thinking a lot about family traditions lately.  Perhaps it’s because I have been spending the majority of this year sorting and organizing family treasures, or maybe it is the approaching holiday season that makes me feel sentimental about food, family, and special times.

Each December, one of my favorite traditions is baking Christmas cut-out cookies, using this recipe that my dad’s sister Betty (“Auntie B” as I called her) passed down to me.  I have many fond memories of baking these cookies with another “Auntie”—my father’s other sister (Sister Camilla) when she came home for the holidays to Pittsburgh from the convent where she lived in Texas.

holiday heritage recipes : Lisa Alzo and Sr. Camilla Alzo making Christmas cookies in December 1972.

Lisa Alzo and Sr. Camilla Alzo making Christmas cookies in December 1972.

To be honest, my mom would do most of the hard work of preparing the dough and rolling it out into large ovals on the wood cutting board dusted with flour. Auntie and I were in charge of the frosting and decorating, which in my opinion, was the best part.  After all, Santa needed a big plate of these cookies when he dropped by.

The recipe has always been a favorite in our family because it is not just a plain sugar cookie, but has a hint of almond that provides extra special flavor.

For me, the holiday season is not complete until I make these cookies. So, every year I play holiday music, make the dough, use the Santa-in-his-cap cookie cutter (I still have the original), and sprinkle the red crystallized sugar on top of the powdered sugar icing on the freshly baked cookies. Inevitably, my mind always wanders back to the wonderful Christmas memories my aunts created with me.

Traditions are a part of our family history. This tradition stayed with me so much that I included the recipe for Auntie B’s Cookies in my book, Baba’s Kitchen: Slovak & Rusyn Family Recipes & Traditions. I’m pleased to share it with Genealogy Gems readers.”
– Lisa A. Alzo

Thank you, Lisa! I’m definitely going to whip up a batch of these and I’m sure I can entice Davy and Joey to do the sugar sprinkling!  Happy baking and Merry Christmas.

More Holiday Heritage Recipes Inspiration

Heritage Cookbooks: Recipe for a Sweet Family History

Little House on the Prairie: A New Cookbook (and Old Documents)

Cooking Up More Family History

Check out my fun retro recipe video called Cooking with the Toastite below. It features my conversation with the author of From the Family Kitchen: Discover Your Food Heritage and Preserve Favorite Recipes Gena Philibert Ortega. I interviewed her in the free Genealogy Gems podcast episodes #137 and #138.

NGS 2014 Genealogy Conference in Richmond

NGS 2014 logoMark your calendars: The National Genealogical Society (U.S) has announced that next year’s Family History Conference will be at the Greater Richmond Convention Center and Marriott Hotel in Richmond, Virginia from May 7 -10.

The theme for the 2014 conference is “Virginia: The First Frontier,” so you can expect to see plenty of “Old Dominion” records and history. But conference planners promise more than 150 lectures that will include “migration into, within, and out of the region down the Great Wagon Road, over the Appalachian Mountains, and across the south to Texas and beyond.” Plan to learn about the “history, records, repositories, and ethnic and religious groups in Virginia and the neighboring states of Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky, and Tennessee. The program will also feature broader genealogical categories including military and other federal records, the law as it relates to genealogy, methodology, analysis, and problem solving. There will also be an emphasis on the use of technology (GenTech) in genealogical research including genetics, mobile devices, and apps.”

If you plan to go, get your hotel reservation in early–reservations are already being accepted, though actual conference registration doesn’t open until December 1. Check out hotel information and sign up for the NGS Conference Blog so you can keep up-to-date on news and announcements.

NGS 2016: Attend Virtually with Streaming Sessions

NGS 2016 offers a virtual streaming package for online attendees this year–and Lisa’s new Google Earth class is part of it!

The National Genealogical Society (U.S.) is counting down to its annual conference on May 4-6 in sunny Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Now you can count down the days, too, even if you can’t attend in person. NGS 2016 is offering registration packages with remote access to 10 live-streaming lectures that you can watch from your own computer or mobile device.

One of Lisa Louise Cooke’s NGS lectures, “How to Follow and Envision Your Ancestor’s Footprints Through Time with Google Earth,” is among the classes being streamed.  Here’s a quick run-down of the two days:

Day 1: Land Records, Maps and Google Earth:

  • Mapping Apps for Genealogists, Rick Sayre, CGSM, CGLSM, FUGA.
  • Private Land Claims, Pamela Boyer Sayre, CG, CGL, FUGA (on foreign land grants and subsequent records that proved legal ownership in territorial areas prior to U.S. acquisition)
  • Are You Lost: Maps and Gazetteers for English and Welsh Research, Paul Milner
  • Deed Books: More Than Just Land Records, Vic Dunn, CG
  • How to Follow and Envision Your Ancestor’s Footprints Through Time with Google Earth, Lisa Louise Cooke

Day 2: Problem Solving with Proper Methodology, Historical Context and DNA

  • Reasonably Exhaustive Research: The First Criteria for Genealogical Proof, Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL, FASG, FNGS, FUGA
  • Sharing With Others: How to Convey Evidence, Jeanne Larzalere Bloom, CG
  • Systematically Using Autosomal DNA Test Results to Help Break Through Genealogical Brick Walls, Thomas W. Jones, PhD, CG, CGL, FASG, FNGS, FUGA
  • Helen F. M. Leary Distinguished Lecture, Ethics in Genealogy— Professional and Personal, David E. Rencher, AG, CG, FIGRS, FUGA
  • Doughnut Holes and Family Skeletons: Meeting the GPS through Negative and Indirect Evidence, Stefani Evans, CG

NGS 2016 official social media badgeThere are Live Streaming access registrations options for each day (5 lectures each for $65/$80) or a bundle for both days ($110/$145). (Prices are for NGS members/non-members.) It’s a fabulous price to access classes that were hand-picked from among the top-notch instruction provided at NGS. The lectures will air as they happen on May 5-6, but virtual attendees will have access to the classes for a full 3 months (through August 7, 2016).

For NGS members who purchase access all 10 classes, they’re paying just $11 per class! Click here for more info and to register. And watch the calendar–registration for NGS 2016 Live Streaming access ends April 22, 2016 at midnight.

Picture3Come see us at NGS 2016! After a fabulous response last year, Genealogy Gems will once again host FREE presentations in the Exhibitor Hall. Join us in our brand new Genealogy Gems theater. Our popular sessions help you think outside the box for greater genealogy success (and have fun and get free swag while you’re at it). Click here to check out the full Genealogy Gems Theater schedule.

Voices of the Past: Canadian Oral History Project

reading_to_children_anim_300_clr_10048The Victoria Genealogical Society has started a new memory project called “Voices of the Past.” They are recording the stories of senior members of their community and posting them to their website. You can listen to any given story or click on one of the themes they’ve organized the material into, then listen to stories relating to that theme.

I heard about it from Merv Scott, a Project Director at the Victoria Genealogical Society. Merv sees this project as a win-win experience for those telling stories and those receiving them. “I’m sure you have seen how uplifting it is for seniors to tell stories about their family history,” he writes. “Research has shown it boosts their self-esteem reduces stress and anxieties….I think it’s an amazing legacy to leave your children and grandchildren with stories about their family as told by the person who was there. ” You can contact Merv (Projects@victoriags.org) for more information.

I’ve heard about lots of oral history projects, from the national in scope to the most local. Browse some of these (and find tools and resources for doing your own) at Cyndi’s List.

Disaster Preparedness for Genealogists Part 2: Duplicate the Past

hurry_with_the_medical_kit_300_clr_8472In celebration of National Preparedness Month in the United States, I’m running a four-part post on securing your family history archive and research against disasters. Last week I talked about assessing and prioritizing your original family artifacts, photographs and documents. This week’s tip:

DUPLICATE THE PAST. There’s no true substitute for an original family Bible, but if it’s lost, you at least want to have a copy. Scan your original photos, documents, and other flat artifacts—including the important pages of that Bible. While you could carefully use a flatbed scanner, consider a portable scanner or a mobile scanning app like Genius Scan or Scanner Pro.

Next, photograph dimensional family artifacts like artwork, handicrafts, clothing, military and school memorabilia, etc. Use a regular digital camera or the camera on your phone or tablet/iPad. Make sure you label the photos by using the metadata fields in digital files or by printing them out and captioning them in an album. Consider using the Heirloom Inventory Kit developed by the folks at Family Tree Magazine to create an archival record of your artifacts with images, stories and more.

Next week, we’ll tackle a third topic: preserving original documents, photos and heirlooms.

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