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Christmas cookies to light up the season

12 November 2019

By The SUN


Image may contain: 13 people, including Gail Camaya Hills, people smiling, people sitting and indoor
Gail Camaya-Hills (center, in yellow) with the first batch of trainees

Christmas is just around the corner, and what better way to prepare for it and dispel some of the protest-related gloom in Hong Kong than by whipping up goodies that remind us that this is a season for cheer and good tidings?

This was what Pintura Circle President Abigail Camaya-Hills had in mind when she decided to give free lessons on baking Christmas cookies and making Christmas accessories for two successive Sundays this month.

“Christmas is coming and since Pinoys love homemade food, it made so much sense to offer this as a source of livelihood,” she said. “This is something anyone can do, even a beginner.”
On Nov. 10, about 30 Filipina domestic workers joined her cookie-making lesson at the Consulate’s Sentro Rizal room. Most of them had so much fun they were looking at also joining the Christmas decoration workshop on the next Sunday, Nov 17.

Not having access to an oven did not hinder Camaya-Hills and her two helpers, Vemma and Jerly, from teaching the participants how to make the dough, then with the use of moulds, cut them out into Christmas shapes like a star, a bough and Santa.

These pre-cut cookie moulds the participants were allowed to bring back home with them to bake and decorate.

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To move on to the next lesson of making cookie icing and using this to decorate their cookies, the ever-resourceful and generous trainor pulled out bags of butter cookies already baked to perfection for the participants to work on.

And this they did, turning the cookies into bright stars or boughs with green, yellow and red trimmings, or of Santa Claus in his jolly red suit.
No photo description available.
Decorating the cookies in Christmas colors

Camaya-Hills said about 70%  of the participants were beginners, but by the end of the lesson, everyone looked confident enough to put what they learned to good use.

One who confessed to having just handled an electric mixer for the first time in her life was confidently kneading and shaping her cookies in no time.
Many initially said they signed up for the lesson to see if they could use it in starting a baking business back home. But once they saw how pretty and tasty the cookies turned out, they began having other ideas.

“Pwede nang pang-regalo sa amo at baka magka Christmas bonus,” said one, only half-jokingly.

It was this show of selflessness and generosity of spirit that gave Camaya-Hills a different kind of fulfillment at the end of the whole-day session.

“It was admirable that a lot of them were excited to bring the decorated cookies (and the cut cookies that have yet to bake home) to their alagas to share and show off. That is true Filipino generosity – and showed how much their love their alagas - parang anak na nila!”

For the next lesson, Camaya-Hills will be teaching participants how to make Christmas table runners and fashion accessories and tree trimmings made of crystal. Again, for free, in keeping with this season of giving.

Christmas Cookie Recipe:


Image may contain: one or more people, people sitting, table, food and indoor
Decorate your Christmas cookies as you please


Ingredients (For the cookies):

3 & ¾ all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 ½ sugar (if brown, use 1 cup only)
2 eggs (duck eggs give a better flavor)
125 gms of unsalted butter (or ½ of a block of butter)
2 tsps vanilla extract

Procedure:
  1. Sift together flour, salt and baking powder. Set aside
  2. In a separate bowl, beat together the sugar and melted butter. Pour the vanilla extract onto butter/sugar mix. Beat one egg at a time until the mixture is smooth.
  3. Make a well in the flour mixture and pour the buter, sugar, vanilla and egg mixture. Keep mixing by hand until all the ingredients are absorbed. Put in a plastic bag or cover with muslin cloth and chill for two hours.
  4. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius (or 400 degrees F)
  5. Grease cookie sheets in the cookie tray.
  6. Put flour on a clean surface, and using a rolling pin, take out small portions of the chilled dough. Roll out dough into 1/4 inch thick.
  7. Dip the cookie cutters into a bowl of flour and cut dough to the desired shapes.
  8. Arrange cut dough on baking trays and bake for 10-12 minutes, checking regularly if done.
  9. When done, cool them on a metal rack
  10. Put desired Christmas decoration on each cookie using the cookie icing 
For the Cookie Icing:

Ingredients:
¾ cup icing sugar
2 tsps water
3 drops of food coloring (preferred colors are white, yellow, green and red)

Procedure:
  1. Mix icing sugar with water until it peaks. Put 2-3 drops of food coloring until you get the desired color
  2. Put the icing mix in plastic piping. Cut the plastic piping very thinly so only a thin line of icing comes out
  3. Decorate the cookies as you desire. 


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