Beverly resident Lori Daniels says one of her favorite sayings is "Christmas cookies and holiday hearts is how the season really starts." And she believes there is no better place than the kitchen to share holiday fun.
A visit to Daniel's kitchen offers tantalizing aromas, sweet memories and laughter of friends and family from homemade cookies, candies and festive holiday decorations.
Daniels said baking has always been a true passion for her, and Christmas is her favorite time of year.
The Inter-Mountain photo by Beth Christian Broschart
A plate of homemade, decorated cookies makes a heartfelt gift during the holidays. Lori Daniels shares her baked goodies with her daughters’ teachers, friends, relatives and co-workers. Daniels said to be sure to use real butter for cookies that are tender, allow plenty of chill time and do not overwork dough.
"One thing that gets me in the holiday spirit is listening to Christmas carols while baking cookies and seeing the snow softly falling," Daniels said. "I start baking in early December and bake every week till Christmas."
Daniels said her family gathers for their "Cookie Express". They don Christmas hats, put on holiday music and bake for hours to fill the many tins and baskets that are awaiting.
"My family and I roll out, shape and decorate cookies and candies by the hundreds; sometimes making 10 to 12 different kinds," Daniels said. "Most of those will be given away."
Daniels said she tries to add new cookies each year.
"I am always trying new things and I will experiment with a recipe by changing amounts of ingredients or using different flavors," she said. "I like to see what works best and what my family likes."
Daniels said her mother started her baking when she was 12 years old.
"I like to use my Taste of Home magazines and cookbooks because they have no-fail recipes, easy directions and a picture of the finished product," Daniels said. "I have been a field editor for Taste of Home magazine for over 10 years."
Almost all of the goodies Daniels prepares are given as gifts. She said she and her mother collect colorful tins, boxes, and mugs for gift giving.
"Cookies, candy, teas, books, jams, jellies, coffees, teas and hot cocoa mixes are wonderful to partner together as a gift," Daniels said. "Nothing says homemade with love quite like a basket of sweet rolls or biscuits with homemade jam or jelly."
Christmas morning at the Daniels home always features a sweet bread or rolls with farm fresh-eggs. For dinner, she plans a small family gathering and serves glazed ham, scalloped potatoes and pumpkin spice casserole. Everyone who comes brings a dish to share.
"Food is an expression of love and an extension of yourself," Daniels said. "Sharing that love at this wonderful Christmas season brings joy to those who receive and to the giver as well."