- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 6, 2016

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Make a note: If you’re going to bake 670 or so Christmas cookies, it will cost you $250 at Costco for 45 cups of flour and roughly 50 other ingredients: nutmeg, sugar, brown sugar, red sugar, green sugar, red hot cinnamon, almond extract and more.

And if you’re the proudly Polish-American Augustyniewicz family of west Wichita, it also takes six Augustyniewiczs working all waking hours for two days, including two Augustyniewiczs flying in to carry on more than 70 years of tradition while wielding a certain 70-year-old set of cheap red plastic cookie cutters that four generations of the Augustyniewicz family have used since the 1940s, The Wichita Eagle (https://j.mp/2g8FjkC ) reports.

They started by scribbling down names of 19 species of cookies they planned to bake: sugar cookies, butterscotch, cinnamon nut, walnut butter balls, Santa Claus faces, cinnamon pecan pinwheels . and more.

Mark and Marna Kagele Augustyniewicz spent $400 on those round-trip tickets from Seattle. They joined Frank, Cathy, Jonathan and Elise Augustyniewicz on Friday.

On Saturday, Cathy’s west Wichita kitchen smelled like Christmas.

A baking history

The first Augustyniewicz family Christmas cookies were made in 1940s Chicago by Stanley Augustyniewicz Sr. for members of the extended Augustyniewicz family.

The cookies became such a family Christmas tradition as to be held almost sacred by the Augustyniewiczs, who have baked now for parts or all of eight decades.

“It kind of binds us all together as a family,” Frank Augustyniewicz said.

They’ve managed to do this without accidents or injuries, “or accidentally inhaling powdered sugar,” or any family feud blow-ups, Cathy Augustyniewicz said on Saturday. “We all get along, so the only thing we do is talk (behind the backs) of the ones who are not here,” Cathy said.

Marna Kagele and Mark Augustyniewicz believed so much in the tradition that they flew to Wichita from Seattle this week to help Frank and Cathy and 11-year-old Elise and 16-year-old Jonathan bake.

“I knew about the cookies because we’ve been getting them for years,” Marna said.

Stanley Sr. made 200 cookies that first 1940s Chicago Christmas. It’s a number that three generations of his Augustyniewicz descendants now view as small potatoes (so to speak).

They planned to bake 670 cookies between Friday and Saturday, with many of the cookies meticulously decorated. By midday Friday, Cathy Augustyniewicz had set a baseline for productivity: “I already put in seven hours, making 12 batches of cookie dough,” she said.

The cookies will be boxed carefully and sent, a few dozen each, to 15 to 20 Augustyniewicz families, including third-cousin Augustyniewiczs, no matter how far away they live or how they interact during the rest of the year, Frank Augustyniewicz said.

It kind of binds us all together as a family.

Elise had already started using family-sacred Augustyniewicz cookie cutter relics.

Stanley Sr., in that first Chicago Christmas, used a set of red plastic cookie cutters (Santas, snowmen, angels, reindeer, etc.). Those cutters, handed down for four generations, arrived in Wichita this past summer.

In between 1940s Chicago and today, the cutters had been wielded by Olga Augustyniewicz, wife of Stanley Augustyniewicz Jr. and mother of Frank and Mark. Olga baked the cookies for 40 years, first from Seattle, then from Tucson; she and Stanley Jr. decided to hand off the tradition and cookie cutters after last Christmas.

By Friday afternoon, the younger Augustyniewiczs had made dozens of home-baked cookies and kolackys (a Polish fruit pastry).

By midday Saturday: “Four batches to go,” Cathy said.

There will be boxes - cookies packed with care, and some cost. Stanley Augustyniewicz set such a high standard for quality that he and his descendants made sure that the cookie shaped like one of Santa’s reindeer, with a thin neck, would arrive with neck intact.

Cathy Augustyniewicz used cookie recipes in a book published in 1957 and owned by the original Stanley Augustyniewicz.

She followed the recipes to the letter, with Frank helping.

“We’ll see if they taste like Mamma used to make,” he said.


Information from: The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle, https://www.kansas.com

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