Ask the neighbors along Aimee Lane on the outskirts of Lake Ann where the spirit of the season is, and they’ll point you to Joan Wallace’s kitchen. Set at its cruising temperature of 350 degrees, Joan’s oven cranks out a steady stream of cookies this time of year—drops, bars, crescents—the kind of baked nuggets that have the whole neighborhood talking.
None of this magic would happen, of course, without Joan Wallace at the controls. The sprightly mother of four and grandmother of six glows with holiday warmth right up to her halo of pumpkin-colored hair. “I live this time of year,” she says. It’s no surprise that cookies are Joan’s fondest way of spreading the joy. Her mother, a young widow, baked and sold homemade cookies to support her children through the Depression—and Joan delivered them. Cookies provided the daily bread, and much-needed cheer. “Baking made my mother happy,” Joan says.
Joan believes that the emotive essence of cookies begins with flavor—not decoration. “Cookies have to taste good,” she says with a firm nod. “It’s not enough if they look good.” It’s a cookie creed Joan’s neighbors appreciate—especially when she shows up at their door with a tray, fresh from the oven.
In the event that you, reader, don’t find yourself on Aimee Lane this holiday season, we offer you a sampling of Joan’s favorite recipes to bake yourself.