AS kids, my brother and sister and I most enjoyed decorating cut-out sugar cookies (and each other) with frosting and those little bottles of colored sugar crystals. But for pure eating pleasure, the best thing was a plate of anise cookies and a big glass of cold milk. They're not too big or too sweet, so you can eat lots of them. This recipe came from my German grandmother, Louise Angus (she married a Scotsman in Wisconsin), and it's been passed down from my mother, Alice Knickerbocker, in New York to our family in Oregon. It was a real struggle choosing between this recipe and the other family recipes for pecan balls and hazelnut cookies. Send me a card if you want the others: 188 Scenic Drive, Ashland, Ore., 97520.
1 cup sugar 1/2 cup margarine 2 eggs 1/2 teaspoon anise oil (see note) 1 1/2 cups flour 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 pound candied cherries, cut in half 1/2 cup walnuts or pecans, broken up
Cream together sugar and margarine. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Add flour mixture and anise oil to butter-sugar mixture. Add nuts and cherries. Turn out on well-floured board and knead a few times with floured hands. Form long, cookie-dough cylinders about two inches in diameter. Wrap in waxed paper and chill overnight in refrigerator. Slice thin (1/4 to 1/8 inch) with very sharp knife. Put on ungreased cookie sheets and bake in pre-heated 325-degrees F. oven until slightly brown, about 10-15 minutes. Note: If anise oil is unavailable in your area, substitute 1 teaspoon anise extract.