Gastronomic Gifts V: Tutti Fruiti Christmas Cookies, circa 2008*

December 19, 2008

* Or, Ricki Finally Decides to Get Political

[There’s just nothing like a homemade gift for the holidays.  This year, with the purse strings a little tighter than usual, I’m determined to make at least a few in my kitchen–and thought I’d share my ideas in case you’d like to partake, too.  ]


[Dig those green threads of lime zest in there!  Red and green–how festive!]

I bet you can tell from the title alone that this is a retro recipe.  For me, the name “Tutti Fruiti” brings to mind Mrs. Cunningham’s kitchen on Happy Days, or Leave it to Beaver, or Doris Day. I mean, it just sounds so Barbie doll. . .so potroast-and-mashed-potatoes. . . so poodle skirts and bobbysocks. . . so 1950s Housewife.  Or does it?

Maybe it’s just me, but just when did feminism get such a bad rap? (Oh oh–I’ve uttered the “F-Word”!! I can hear the roar of footsteps as droves of my readers hightail it for the exit).  But seriously.  I happened to grow up during a time of great social change for women, when being able to make our own choices and earn our own money was still a novelty, one that was both thrilling, and ground-breaking.  (Hmm.  Sort of reminds me of the excitement in the air over recent political developments, too).

These days, I’m sensing a backward shift in attitude all over the media. It makes me sad to think that young women today feel they can’t embrace independence and self-sufficiency without giving up everything old-fashioned at the same time.  Claims of Grrrrrrl power from hyper-sexed, no-unmentionable-flaunting, party-hardy starlets who trumpet liberation but are really just craving male attention are just one facet of the problem. You know that social attitudes have really shifted when they hit your soap opera.  As The World Turns (my own indulgence, as I may have mentioned before) may have one of the first gay story lines on daytime, but they seem to have abandoned their women back in the fifties.  

Case in Point: Jack and Carly. Here’s a sample:

Carly [to her ex-husband, Jack]: What?  You spent the $5000 intended for our son’s boarding school tuition on your new wife-to-be’s wedding dress??!!

Jack: Don’t worry, Carly, I will make sure our kids are taken care of.

Carly: I’m warning you, Jack, you’d better not squander your money on that woman.  If our kids have to suffer because you can’t pay for them. . . well, I promise you, I will make your life a living hell.

Jack: I told you I’d take care of it, Carly, and I will!  [storms off in a huff.]

Does anyone else read that dialogue and wonder, “Um, excuse me, but where is Carly’s portion of that tuition?” Why isn’t she also contributing to her son’s schooling?  And before you hurl epithets at my insensitivity to the woman’s dilemma, consider that Carly’s character is supposedly a millionaire.  That’s right: as a former high-flying fashion designer, she has way more money than her honest-cop ex-husband. Yet despite rolling in dough, she expects the man to pay for everything. Poor old Gloria Steinem (and I suppose she really is old, nowadays) is probably rolling over in her Playboy bunny suit.

I don’t see any conflict of interest in calling myself a feminist and still enjoying all the activities that take place in the kitchen (no, not those activities, people! I was referring to cooking, baking, eating and the like!)  In fact, I’ve always been proud to use the title “Ms.” (and no, it’s not just a title for divorced women).  Another shock:  I also retained my name when I got married (to the first one, not the HH). I mean, I’d had the name since I was born, didn’t I? I was pretty attached to it. My ex-husband argued that we were more of a coherent “team” with the same last name.  Okay, I countered, then let “the team” carry my last name. (I’m afraid I can’t reprint what he said in response to that.)  

And what does this sudden pro-feminist rant have to do with cookies, you may wonder? 

Well, in high school, one of the greatest feminist role models I’ve ever known was Mrs. Jennings.  Mrs. J was quite a powerhouse: she held a full-time job as a high school teacher; she was on various academic boards; she had a part-time freelance gig outside of school; and she was one all around tough cookie (no pun intended). Probably only about 10 years my senior at the time, Mrs. J certainly looked the part: she was rather strident in her manner, with a mile-high ‘do that bore a striking resemblance to a rusted Brillo pad.  Her shoes were sensible, her suits stiff and straight-cut in that “must-emulate-male-businessmen” way, and her demeanor was always entirely humorless. At the same time, she showed us girls what could be accomplished by women who were smart and self-sufficient.

Oh, and she taught Home Economics.

Home Economics!  Even the name sounds anachronistic.  But it was in Mrs. J’s class that I learned how to measure dry ingedients in the metal cups and wet ingredients in the glass cups; how to level my baking powder with the back of a knife; how to roll dough from the center outward; how to distinguish between a selection of six different kinds of milk**; and how to make Tutti Fruiti Christmas Cookies. That woman really could do it all! And she taught us it was okay to be a feminist and still love all the old-fashioned female virtues, too.

Of course, the original recipe wasn’t vegan (Mrs. J wasn’t that liberated).  But I’ve retained it all these years because these were just the perfect holiday cookie in every way: they are delicious, they are incredibly easy to make (of course, any woman with all that going on had to find ways to save time in the kitchen), they travel well, and they seem to appeal to everyone.  The original recipe also contained old-fashioned gumdrops, chopped up.  Well, darned if I didn’t have the perfect substitute right on hand–the yummy gummies I got as a gift in my swap package from Neil!  The lime zest is my own addition, to round out the Christmassy colors.

Of all the fancy, frosted, cookie-cut or filled cookies I make at the holiday season, these remain my very favorites (and they’re not even chocolate!!).  Soft yet slightly crumbly with a light, citrus, almond-perfumed aroma and dotted throughout with brilliant bits of shiny color like fragments of stained glass, these cookies are a treat to eat. 

And when you don the frilly apron to serve these to friends and family, hold up your feminist head with pride! Real women bake cookies, too. 🙂

Mum, we love all the activities that go on in the kitchen, too.  And we would love to be self-sufficient with free access to our food.”

On a Final Note: I’ve also been totally remiss about a lovely award I received a while back from Georgia.    I meant to post about it then, and of course it slipped my mind until now (I may be a feminist, but my memory sucks).  Thanks so much, Georgia, for this Proximity Award!  Here are the award details:

“This blog invests and believes in PROXIMITY – nearness in space, time and relationships! These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers! Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award.”

I won’t tag anyone specific, but will open this up to anyone who’s willing to proudly call herself (or himself) a feminist!  

** That would be whole, 2%, 1%, skim, sweetened condensed, evaporated, and dried-reconstituted. Nobody had even heard of alternative milks back then!

As a much healthier version of the original, this recipe is my contribution to Michelle of The Accidental Scientist for her Heart of the Matter “December Full of Heart-Healthy Decadence” event.  (And yes, coconut oil is considered heart-healthy!). 🙂

Tutti Fruiti Christmas Cookies


The perfect holiday cookie:  quick and easy, and with a light texture and fruity flavor, easy to eat as well.

1/2 cup (90 g.) Sucanat

1 Tbsp. (15 ml.) water

1/4 tsp. (1 ml.) EACH: almond extract, lemon extract, pure vanilla extract

zest of 1/2 lime

1 Tbsp. (15 ml.) finely ground flax seeds

1/3 cup (80 ml.) melted coconut oil (such as Omega Nutrition, which you can win through the Menu for Hope!)

1/2 cup (120 ml.) chopped candied fruit, gummy candies, chopped dried cranberries, or any other small chopped festive food of your choice

1-1/4 cups (175 g.) light spelt flour

3/4 tsp. (7.5 ml) baking powder

1/4 tsp. (1 ml.) baking soda

1/8 tsp. (.5 ml.) fine sea salt

In a large bowl, mix together the Sucanat, water, extracts and lime zest.  Stir to dissolve the Sucanat as much as possible.  Add the flax seeds and melted oil, then stir in the chopped fruit or candies.

Sift the flour, baking powder, soda, and salt over the liquid ingredients and stir to blend.  You will have a soft dough. 

Shape the dough into two logs about 1-1/2 inches (4 cm.) in diameter and wrap in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375F (190C).  Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper, or spray with nonstick spray.

Unwrap the cookie logs and cut them into disks about 3/8 inch (3/4 cm.) thick and place about 2 inches (5 cm.) apart on cookie sheets. 

Bake in preheated oven 10-13 minutes, rotating the sheets once about halfway through, until golden brown.  Allow to cool 5 minutes on sheets before removing to a rack to cool completely.  Makes about 30 cookies.  May be frozen.

Other Gastronomic Gifts:

GG I: Fudge Two Ways

GG II:  Brandied Apricot-Ginger Spread

GG III: Marzipan-Topped Shortbread **Note: the original recipe was somehow transcribed incorrectly–please use the current version with the correct amount of flour!!

GG IV: Jam-Filled Turnovers

GG VI: Pumpkin Butter

GG VII: Chocolate Macaroons in a Flash

Last Year at this Time: Quick and Easy Tofu Masala

© 2008 Diet, Dessert and Dogs


22 Responses to “Gastronomic Gifts V: Tutti Fruiti Christmas Cookies, circa 2008*”

  1. Shelby Says:

    These sounds heavenly! I must make them soon =)

  2. shellyfish Says:

    Right on Mrs. J! I admit I was one of those kids who thought that women who baked, cooked, stayed home with their kids (dear freaking dog, kids?!?) and who otherwise excelled in the domestic arts could never, ever be a Feminist with an F. Yeah, I was so wrong. Being able to do everything – changing my my car oil to changing my baby- that’s Feminist. We need to reclaim the right to do whatever empowers us (and is mostly legal).
    I was never going to take some other person’s name (what, am I his property or something?) and he offered to take mine – so we conjoined our names – and Guppy has both.

  3. VeggieGirl Says:

    Haha!! Love the 1950s flaskback reference for the FANTASTIC cookies 😀

  4. Courtney Says:

    Haha–I was raised by a Feminist with a capitol F who was a single mother and worked and raised two daughters and showed us that women really COULD do it all…and now we both want to be stay-at-home moms! Where did she go wrong?! Actually, my sister’s husband took her (our) last name, which I found pretty impressive!

    Those cookies look great…almost worth driving to Canada to pick up! I mean, really, Canada isn’t that far from MN, right?!


  5. Ricki Says:

    Wow–I am just loving your amazing feminist responses out there! As Shellyfish said, to me feminism means appreciating and taking advantage of choices and freedoms that women didn’t have before–whether that means you stay at home with the kids (and that goes for you, too, dads!) or take each other’s names or work full time or allow your spouse to pursue her/his dream of being an artist while you take care of the rest of it. I always knew bloggers were cool! 🙂

  6. melody Says:

    Those look great!

    I believe Feminism is all about CHOICE in every aspect.. a woman should have the same CHOICES as men.. and CHOICE over her own body when it come to pregnancy, childbirth and everything else!

  7. Sara Says:

    What a delicious cookie! And while I didn’t grow up during the feminist revolution, I did grow up having a mother who could do it all – work, bake bread from scratch, play with the kids, and go out dancing on Friday nights with dad and friends. I’ve always considered myself a feminist, but never understood those who promote feminism as being only career/work-oriented “bitches” who eschew typically female-viewed roles and activities simply because they are normally viewed as female. I love cleaning my house in stylish vegan heels, often time sipping on a Cosmo while I’m doing it (which makes cleaning all the more fun). I love being able to bake in a cute apron and heels, changing spark plugs in a dress then go to apply lipstick, and work on a PhD in a “man’s field.” Feminism is empowerment – whatever that may be for you! Wohoo!

  8. veganlisa Says:

    Oh Ricki,
    I love your blog and had to comment on this post. I can’t agree more. Feminism is about the freedom to live the life you want as a woman in this crazy world. If domestic endeavours bring joy to your life then you shouldn’t feel you have to deny it just because you’re a woman. I love to be in my kitchen but I also love making presentations to community leaders about social change and challenging men and women to think differently about the lives we live and the communities we create.
    Thank you for the sweet treats and the inspiring discussion!
    Hope to see you soon Ricki!

  9. Do you think there’s a higher percentage of feminists amongst vegan bloggers? Or maybe it’s just the blogs that I frequent! I enjoyed this post. And the cookies look so pretty!

  10. Hear, hear, Ms. Goldman! This post kicks butt, and so does Mrs. Jennings!

    Your cookies are so Christmassy! They’re SO going on my list of awesome Christmas goodies!

    Congrats on the award! YAY!

  11. Got a gal named Sue. She knows just what to do…

    Sorry, having a Tutti-Fruiti moment.

  12. Georgia Says:

    I have never heard of light spelt flour… sounds good (I love spelt flour and love the fact that you use it).

    The cookies look awesome and very christmassy.

    You deserved the award.

    Have a great christmas.

  13. Andrea Says:

    I grew up with a decidedly non-feminist mom and dad who blanched when I announced I was happy to help around the house AND shovel the snow — as soon as my brothers did the same. (They thought because I was “the girl” and “more responsible” that I should do all the chores. Ha.)

    I also said I would only have kids if I could live on a kibbutz and they could live in the “children’s house” and be cared for by others. Right. (I have three and of course I loved caring for all of them.)

    Respect for and being open to the unlimited positive choices people are free to make is what’s important. Raise that spatula with pride!

    The cookies look delicious. And yes, the lime strips are perfect.

  14. Deb Schiff Says:

    First of all, Ricki, your cookies look fabulous!

    Second, I’m Ms. Schiff and also didn’t take John’s last name when we married (mainly because I publish under my name).

    Third: I’m a feminist from way back:

    Finally, my best role model for feminism is my mom. Too long to explain here, but I’m a huge fan of hers.

    Here’s a link to one of her books:

  15. Ricki Says:

    First, Everyone:
    I am loving this feedback! I had no idea so many people felt this passionately about this issue. I love the comments, love hearing from you all. I do notice that many of these comments seem to be from the 20+ crowd. Would love to hear from the rest of you (even if it’s just your reaction to the cookies!) 🙂

    And they’re pretty easy to make, too (at least I think so!) 🙂

    I love this comment from you, the boots-at-her-own-wedding, Craftier-than-anybody, Great-Mom-to-a-Guppy Feminist! The Gupster is lucky to have you both as parents (and to share both your names) 😉

    I have a feeling the 1950s were a lot more fun than most of us realize (if Mad Men is any indication. . . ) 😉

    Very cool! And how nice to have that choice. (Oh, and your sister’s husband ROCKS). PS Re: Cookies–come over any time, and I’ll have a parcel for ya! (And there’s plenty of room to bunk with The Girls) 😉

    Right on! (Oh, that’s actually from the 60s. . . but you know what I mean!)

    I’m with you on the “F-Word”: to me, it always held very positive connotations; I don’t know where we got the idea that feminists are all mean-spirited, men-bashing people! Maybe we need a new word that everyone can be comfortable with(I’ve heard the suggestion of “humanist,” but somehow that sounds too philosophical). And from now on, every time I dust or wash dishes, I’m going to crave a Cosmo!!

    Thanks so much! I think many women feel that pull in more than one direction, but unfortunately our society doesn’t make it so easy for us to accomplish everything. Bravo to you–I love what you do. And look forward to meeting up again at the next event!

    lisa(show me vegan),
    Good question! But I guess bloggers need to have a certain degree of independence and forward-thinking to jump into this crazy blog world to begin with, so maybe!

    I have to admit that Mrs. Jennings did kick butt, even if she was just a little bit harsh at the time! And thanks for the sweet words. 🙂

    For once–a non-chocolate-covered moment!! (Bet it felt a bit weird. . . ) 😉

    Some of the recipe testers found the same thing. . . I think in many places, there’s only one type of spelt, which is kind of an all-purpose blend (of light and whole). Since spelt is actually grown here in Ontario, we get to choose among light (slightly refined and more delicate, like an all-purpose wheat flour in texture), whole (very dark and whole grain-filled, bran and all), and all-purpose (a mix). I’d say go with the spelt you have and it should work, though you may need to add an extra tbsp. (15 ml.) or so to achieve the same texture. And thanks again for the award–much appreciated! Hope your holidays are great as well. 🙂

    Why didn’t I think of that response when I was asked to do chores???? (Oh, yeah, maybe because I had no brothers!). Funny how we change our attitudes with age, isn’t it? And I love your point about choice–yes, it would be great if we all, women and men, had the same opportunities to choose what we wanted in our lives! I do think we’ve moved forward an incredible amount since I was a girl, but still a way to go, I’m afraid. Spatula will be raised! (I love that line–it should be a new slogan!). 🙂

    How awesome are YOU?? That is amazing. You go, girl! And I wish I’d known about your mom’s book when I was studying nutrition–it would have been a perfect resource. Well, it would be a perfect resource now, too, come to think of it 😉 (And glad you like the cookies) 🙂

  16. s Says:

    I agree with people who comment that feminism is about choice, but it is primarily about equality and equal access – so equality in choices, for example.

    Your cookies look great, but coconut oil, hmm.

  17. giz Says:

    Ha ha ha – I used to get the same “coherent team” speach when I refused to change my name and opted to keep my own credit rating.
    Grasshopper would like to know what succanat is?

  18. Mihl Says:

    I consider myself a baking feminist, too and I would also retain my name if I’d ever get married.

    These cookies look so perfect. I love their shape.

  19. Johanna Says:

    I never cease to be shocked at my friends who want to change their name when they get married – just seems such an odd thing to do! And I get sad to see people disregarding feminism as though it had nothing to do with the ‘freedoms’ we now take for granted. I don’t have a problem with calling myself a feminist but I think it is a complicated job of making the world equitable – a long long way to go! But you are proof that feminists bake great cookies!

  20. Ricki Says:

    Thanks for your comment! I’m guessing from the remark about coconut oil that you do not approve. . . I think coconut oil has an undeservedly bad reputation in our society. I wrote a little coda about why I use it at the end of the recipe here.

    Of course, I hadn’t even thought about the credit rating issue! And Sucanat is unrefined evaporated cane juice; stands for SUgar CAne NATural.

    I love being a baking feminist! Yay for the cookies WE choose! 😉

    I think for a lot of people born in or after the 1970s, these freedoms have always been there, so there’s no sense that they could ever be missing (or taken away–again–heaven forbid!) I agree, we still have a ways to go. . . and thanks about the cookies! 🙂

  21. veganhomemade Says:

    I guess the holidays have passed now, but I love the sound of these cookies! The store is really cute too. I took home ec in middle school and all I remember is baking some peanut butter cookies and sewing a pillow.

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