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End of the Road Recipes: Sugar Cookies

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by Crystal Schlueter

Last week I briefly introduced Sandy Nemanic of Hoyt Lakes. Sandy is back this week with another great recipe and story.

Her mother, Anne, was born in Ely in 1910 as one of six girls. Due to reasons unknown to Sandy, Anne and her five sisters were sent to an orphanage in Duluth. The youngest two were adopted, while the rest of the girls found jobs once they aged out of the orphanage. Anne found work as a nanny for a prominent family nearby.

Sandy’s parents met after her father made his way from Iowa to Duluth via the railway and found work as a merchant seaman. They married in 1938. Sandy is the second of six children, including four girls and two boys. Anne baked hundreds of cut-out sugar cookies every Christmas, and Sandy enjoyed helping her mother with this sweet tradition.

Sandy grew up close to Lake Superior, where she and her siblings spent a lot of time. Due to her time on the shore, Sandy became a rockhound, which is a hobby she still enjoys today.

Her love of reading developed early on, as her mother took the children to the library often. Her father encouraged the children to take interest in music, and Sandy found a passion for playing the piano.

Later on, she attended the University of Minnesota Duluth, where she met her husband, Ron. While in her sophomore year, she left school to get married. They eventually settled in Hoyt Lakes where they raised their son and daughter. They are also the proud grandparents of five grandsons and have two cats: Annie and Tillie.

Sandy went back to school after her children were grown and graduated magna cum laude from the University of Wisconsin-Superior in 1995.

Her career included teaching needlecraft classes, working as a para for the local school district, and working in the Boase Elementary Library until its closing in the year 2000.

Sandy loved working with children and enjoyed her colleagues. She said their collective goal was to make life better for kids.

Since 1985, Sandy has served nine terms (with a few years in between) on the Hoyt Lakes Library Board. She feels the library is the heart of Hoyt Lakes. Sandy has also been a member of a book club for more than 25 years.

After asking Sandy to contribute to my column, she read a 715 page book and knitted three prayer shawls while contemplating what to write. To date, she has knitted and donated over 60 prayer shawls to comfort those who are suffering. Sandy’s faith fills her with a need to serve others. She cherished her experience as an alto in her church’s choir and was a member until it dissolved. Including Sandy, there are five former choir members left, and they still sing together at funerals.

For years, she defined herself as a church basement lady and helped to provide meals after funerals. In April, the church she attends, Queen of Peace Church (part of Our Lady of Hope Parish) will be closed.

In her free time, she and her husband enjoy spending time at their cabin which they spent many years renovating. Their goal for the cabin was to make memories for their children, grandchildren, and each other. With a lot of hard work, they accomplished this task.

Sandy said she was meant to be a wife, mother, and grandmother, but as you can see, she was meant to be many other things too. As a woman of many talents, her gifts keep on giving. I must add that she is also a gifted writer, and shared a few of her writing samples with me.

If you were to ask Sandy’s friends and family what they thought of when you said her name, they would say “sugar cookies.” She has shared her cookies with family, friends, neighbors, students, authors, and strangers who she crossed paths with.

With Sandy’s love of baking, it should not be a surprise that she has an impressive collection of cookie cutters. Many of the cutters were gifted to her by those who had previously been treated to her cookies. Some of her favorites are very old and Sandy likes knowing that they were “used by many hands over many years.”

She also collects rolling pins. Her mother’s glass rolling pin is amongst her favorites but she always uses the rolling pin gifted to her at her wedding by her husband’s maternal grandmother.

Most recently, Sandy made octopus cookies for her book club. The book of the month was Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt, and the main character is an octopus. She also made Easter bunnies, toadstools, and fluted edged floral cookies for spring.

I would like to thank Sandy for all that she does and for sharing her treasured recipes with us.

 

Sugar Cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup (2 sticks) softened butter

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar (plus extra for sprinkling)

2 large eggs, at room temperature and beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (plus extra for rolling)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

 

Ingredients:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, then add the vanilla and beat until smooth. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the flour mixture into the butter mixture and mix just until combined. Divide the dough in half and wrap one half with plastic wrap. Roll the other half on a floured board with a floured rolling pin until the dough is about 1/8 inch thick. Using a floured cutter, cut out desired shapes. Place onto ungreased cookie sheets and sprinkle with granulated sugar. Bake for 6-8 minutes or until lightly browned on the edges. Watch carefully as they brown quickly. Repeat with the remaining half of the dough.

Yield: About 36 servings (serving size varies depending on the size of cutter used).

 

Notes:

Sandy says you can also use different colored sugars, frosting, or sprinkles to decorate the cookies. She found the original recipe in an issue of McCall’s magazine while living in California the first year she was married.

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