Between the messes of powdered sugar, smudges of dough on the floor and stolen chocolate chips are where some families’ sweetest and timeless memories are created.
Our annual holiday cookie contest has been put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Bakers from across the region have submitted thousands of recipes since the contest was first held in 1990. Each year we publish the top recipes so readers can replicate the winning desserts at home.
To fill the sugary void in our hearts this year, we asked readers to tell us about their most cherished bonds they’ve made through holiday baking and to share a favorite recipe.
Dorothy Frysinger, 93, of New Carlisle, the matriarch of a large Dutch family in the Dayton area, holds her family together like glue through organizing family reunions, writing her annual Christmas letter, arranging monthly get togethers and more.
However, their family’s cookbook, “The VanDyke Cook Book,” has also done wonders to keep the family tight-knit since its publication in 1998.
The 176-page cookbook is a trove of family recipes compiled by the VanDyke siblings and cousins. It begins with first-hand accounts of Frysinger’s grandparents, her father and aunts and uncles arriving to the United States at Ellis Island.
Front to back, the cookbook is packed with generations of cherished recipes and stories that preserve the VanDyke’s heritage.
“It’s been such a wonderful family operation,” Frysinger said.
When the first edition was published in 98′, the entire VanDyke clan got together at a Dayton restaurant at Christmastime to distribute the finished cook book.
“We had so much fun at that lunch,” Frysinger said. “Because, you know, we didn’t have a chance to get together like that (anymore). … We were standing around and somebody said ‘You know, we need to do this more often. We really had fun.’”
That lunch more than 20 years ago has turned in to monthly family outings and an annual cookie baking meetup at Christmas. Between meetups, the cookbook is often the source of phone calls and emails as family members stay connected through the recipes.
“My niece cooks quite a bit,” Frysinger said. “She (cooked) something and I said ‘Where’d you get that recipe?’ And she said ‘It’s in the cookbook!’ … In fact, she ordered another cookbook because hers is so marked up from using it, she wanted to start out with something fresh.”
This year, the theme of Frysinger’s annual Christmas letter, is the cook book. As it’s been over 20 years since the first printing, the family decided to re-issue the book and print new copies so that a new generation of VanDykes could carry on the tradition.
-Dorothy’s Pistachio Dessert, taken from pg. 96 in The VanDyke Cook Book
- 1 package Jell-O Pistachio pudding
- One, 20 ounce can crushed pineapple- undrained
- 1 cup small marshmallows
- 1 large container Cool Whip
- 1 cup chopped nuts
Mix dry pudding with pineapple. Fold in other three items. Put in rectangular dish. Let stand until cool and cut into squares for serving.
About the Author