Help pick the St. Petersburg Times' Christmas cookie hall of fame

Ten years? Ten years!

I don't know how it happened, but this year we will publish the 10th annual Christmas cookie issue. Even I have a difficult time believing that what started as a sweet little idea in 2002 has grown into a wonderful St. Petersburg Times tradition. The 220 or so recipes we've printed, mostly from readers, were enough to fill a couple of cookbooks, O Christmas Treats in 2008 and Cookielicious in 2010. I know many of the recipes — brickle, anyone? — have become the stars of Christmas cookie exchanges.

The recipes we printed were culled from about 5,000 submissions. What a sugary joy it has been to look through them every year, and I appreciate the generosity of readers.

I suppose we should have kept track of how much flour, sugar, butter and eggs we've used in all those years of recipe testing. I can tell you that we've learned to freeze candied cherries because they are impossible to find when we start testing in September.

My annual holiday baking has been transformed by the recipes. My family's favorites come from your recipe boxes, including Marion Haupt's Peppermint Wands and Linda Siedle's Holiday Chocolate Bon Bon Cookies. Christmas means double batches of each.

This year's section is Nov. 30, and we're doing something different. In years past, I've asked you to send in your favorite holiday recipes, but now I want to know which recipes that we've run have become your favorites.

The 10th annual Christmas cookie issue will be a collection of 24 of the best-loved recipes from the yearly project. A cookie hall of fame, if you will. I've already got some in mind, but I hope you'll dig through those dog-eared sections you've saved or take a spin through one of the cookie books.

I know some of you spend time thinking about recipes to submit each year so I hope you won't be disappointed. Save them for next year — and that means you, Gayle Hackbarth of Summerfield — because 10 isn't the end, just a milestone.

Send your nominations for the Taste Christmas Cookie Hall of Fame via e-mail to features@sptimes.com with COOKIES in the subject field. Include your name, city of residence and the name of the cookie. If you know the year we published it, include that, too. Mail nominations to Cookie Hall of Fame, Taste, St. Petersburg Times, 490 First Ave. S, St. Petersburg, FL 33701.

Please send your nominations by Sept. 30. The Keeler Elves will be testing the finalists again. You know, just to make sure.

Join me at a cookie-baking class

I'll be making some of my favorite recipes from the annual sections at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 5 at Apron's Cooking School at Publix Supermarket, 7835 Gunn Highway, Tampa. On the menu will be Dipped Gingersnaps, Lemon Thumbprints, Cranberry-Orange Cookies, Mexican Hot Chocolate Balls and Rosemary Shortbread.

It's a demonstration class, but there will be lots of samples. I hope you'll consider taking the class. I'd love to meet some of my fellow Taste cookie-lovers. The class is $40 and you can get more information at (813) 926-4465 or publix.com/aprons/schools.

Newlyweds needed for Wishbone U.

The seventh annual Wishbone U. cooking boot camp is looking for newly married couples to tackle the Thanksgiving meal.

In past years, I've gathered challenged cooks of all ages and status, but this year, chef-instructor Rich Norris and I want to play our own version of the newlywed game. We think learning to cook — for your spouse's sake or maybe to impress the in-laws — just might be the secret to a long, happy marriage.

We're looking for couples who need help preparing the holiday meal for the family. Maybe both lovebirds need cooking lessons, or perhaps the better cook wants to school the not-so-good cook.

The best news is, the boot camp is free. Think of it as our wedding gift to you. Plus, your photos will be in the Taste section on Nov. 16 as part of our Thanksgiving preparation coverage.

Here are the particulars: Wishbone U. is at 4 p.m. Oct. 16 at Apron's Cooking School at Publix Supermarket, 7835 Gunn Highway, Tampa. The hands-on class taught by chef Norris is about two hours and we'll eat afterward. You'll learn how to make fabulous sides and get tips on making the world's best turkey.

Couples married between September 2010 and now are eligible. To be considered, please tell us why you and your spouse need to enroll in cooking boot camp. We love cooking disaster stories, plus heartwarming tales of family dinners gone awry. We also understand the desire to impress the relatives.

Send submissions via e-mail to features@sptimes.com and include WISHBONE in the subject line. Please include your name, city of residence and a daytime phone number. Submissions may be mailed to Wishbone U., Taste, St. Petersburg Times, 490 First Ave. S, St. Petersburg, FL 33701.

The deadline is Sept. 30. The six winning couples will be notified by Oct. 3.

Janet K. Keeler can be reached at jkeeler@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8586.

Help pick the St. Petersburg Times' Christmas cookie hall of fame 08/30/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 30, 2011 5:30am]

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