I just received a shipment of cookbooks I ordered. It was my birthday and one of my presents was a gift certificate from Amazon, which I spent on cookbooks. They included the exotic Arabesque: A Taste of Morocco, Turkey and Lebanon by Claudia Roden, a fascinating tome of essays on the mere subject of Food: The History of Taste edited by Paul Freedman, and Ma Gastronomie by Fernand Point, a timeless compilation from the French perspective. I planned to sink my teeth into these books, and get cooking. But first I had a dinner to go to with a group of friends, including Leslie. Earlier this week, I was in Leslie’s home and spied a platter of cookies artfully displayed on her kitchen counter. I looked and admired, and she held up a cookbook. It was a well used, read, and dog-eared edition of Betty Crocker’s Cooky Cookbook. I gasped. I felt as though I had bumped into a friend from my past. This was the book I grew up with. My mother baked from it. I baked from it. As I leafed throught the pages I saw pictures and recipes of cookies from my childhood. I could taste each of them and perfectly picture and smell the kitchen from my childhood home. It was a reunion of sorts, but this time I remembered the names. A few nights later (the day my shipment of books arrivied) it was a girls’ night out, pre-Christmas, and Leslie generously brought all of us a gift. And mine was a new (no dog-ears, yet) edition of the Betty Crocker Cooky Book. I actually squealed when I opened it. I brought it home, sat down and read the book cover to cover. There are already several post-its tabbing the pages (21st century dog-ears.) My daughter has picked out her own recipes that she wants to make – or at least eat. Betty is quickly becoming a member of our family. As for the Amazon shipment? I am glad those wonderful books arrived, but I am going to get busy baking some cookies first. This is my favorite cookie: Russian Teacake Cookies adapted from Betty Crocker’s Cooky Book Makes about 36 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature 1/2 cup sifted confectioner’s sugar 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour 1/2 teaspoon salt 3/4 cup finely chopped toasted almonds Additional confectioner’s sugar for rolling In bowl of electric mixer, mix butter and sugar until lightened in color and fluffy. Stir in vanilla to combine. In a medium bowl mix flour and salt together. Add flour to butter mixture. Mix to combine. Add nuts. Mix to combine. Chill dough at least 30 minutes. Heat oven to 400 F. Roll dough in 1″ balls or oval shapes. Place on parchment lined baking sheets. Bake 10-12 minutes until firm, but not brown. Remove from oven. Cool slightly. Roll in additional confectioner’s sugar. Cool. Roll in sugar again.