When I think that I could have been in a sorority at Alabama other than Zeta Tau Alpha, it really makes me sad. To think that I could live this long and never have met Angela, Leslie and several Beths is unthinkable! I have lots of close friendships from college, and the best days are the ones when I bump into a sorority sister. I had an amazing pledge class. The first time that Angela and I really hit it off was when our pledge class was going through initiation. We were told to stay in rooms in silence but I was with Angela and I think she was singing songs from “South Pacific”. There was never a party or fraternity swap or night out that was not a blast. I did study some in college – usually I would walk around the sorority house with a text book under my arm until I found a group of girls lying on sofas in the upstairs lobby, laughing and talking.
My sorority roommate, Beth, was a nut. She was a microbiology major. I just struggled even trying to spell microbiology. She would tape record her lectures, then when she was away, Angela and I would go on her tape recorder and tape ourselves saying dirty words. Then we would keep an eye on her when she was listening to her taped lectures, and when our dirty words came up, she would turn really red, giggle like crazy and leave the room.
Angela and Beth and another Beth are good cooks – even great cooks. Leslie can cook. Once, when she made Rice-a-Roni, it turned out really, really crunchy. We asked her how she made it and she said she just did direction #1. She thought you could choose which direction on the box to do, instead of doing all three.
When we get together now, we tell the same stories. There are at least 400,000 stories – Tom once told one of my friends – “tell me your first name and I will tell you the funniest thing you did in college.”
The University of Alabama has not changed that much since I was there. Recently, Gallettes, which is our favorite campus bar, posted on Facebook: “We are open today at 11 am! Come get a Yellowhammer on your way to class!”
The best part about Tom and I moving to Birmingham in 1995 was that I would be with so many of my beloved friends. That first Christmas in Birmingham, when Tom and I were still living in an apartment, Angela was hosting a Christmas Cookie Swap. Angela is a most amazing hostess and cook. I have learned a lot from her about entertaining. She is a beautiful Italian from a family of seven kids. Angela is really smart too. She always seems to know what is best for Beth and I to do. And for some reason, we always do what Angela says.
The cookie swap was no exception. Angela invited 12 girls with clear instructions to bring 12 dozen cookies – 11 dozen for swapping, packaged in cute Christmas packing that would make Martha Stewart sweat with envy, and one dozen on a beautiful tray for sampling. Some of us received the call that these had to be high quality cookies – no slice and bakes or store-boughts allowed. I confidently chose to bake Mexican Wedding Cookies. Wonderful delicate pecan shortbread balls rolled heavily in powdered sugar. This seemed easy enough until the math started sinking in- I had to bake 144 of these cookies! And bake wedding cookies all day long was what I did – I scraped that mixing bowl for cookie #144 and had the 12 dozen by the skin of my teeth. I rolled the baked yummy cookies in powdered sugar and dared one to break. There was not one cookie to spare, not one to taste, and no ingredients or time for another batch. My packaging was gorgeous, and my silver tray of 12 beautiful powdered sugar balls for sampling was ready to show off. Now with the work behind me, I was excited about showering and dressing for a fun afternoon at Angela’s – getting into Christmas spirit. When I was dressed and ready to go, I noticed that my silver tray looked a bit off – more disturbing was that Tom’s face was covered in powdered sugar. Yeah, he had eaten 6 of my cookies. I was terrified – I cannot show up with 138 cookies. So I called Beth – “tell me what to do! you have to help me!” She told me to take 6 cookies from her gift bag, for the sampling tray and I could owe her 6 cookies later. I should go bake Beth a batch of Mexican Wedding Cookies right now.
Mexican Wedding Cookies
1 stick butter
3 Tablespoons Confectioners sugar
1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Cream the butter and sugar together in a mixer, add the rest of the ingredients and mix until well combined. This mixture will look like buttery rubble, not at all like cookie dough. Shape into balls about the size of a walnut and bake on an ungreased cookie sheet at 300 for about 30 minutes. They bake at a lower heat than most cookies, and much slower and will never really change for their blonde color. They will not spread out either. While they are still warm, roll them heavily in more confectioners’ sugar. This will make about 2 dozen cookies.
You can also substitute sliced almonds for the pecans and add 1/2 teaspoon of almond extract.
I know that after Angela’s cookie swap, I had the best Christmas cookies in my house ever. It really is a great Christmas tradition.