Savor refreshments during walking event at Victorian Front Porch Tour

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Photo by Ann Cipperly

By Ann Cipperly

In Opelika’s Historic District time seemingly stands still for a living reminder of Christmas past at the Victorian Front Porch Christmas Tour Dec. 6 through Dec. 10. Porches spotlighted with Victorian scenes recreate nostalgic memories of Christmas in a simpler time in Opelika’s history.

While enjoying the yuletide scenes on the walking tour Saturday night, Dec. 9, savor cookies and hot beverages at three locations. Members of the historic Trinity United Methodist Church are sharing recipes for the cookies they will be serving in the fellowship hall.

Located at the entrance of the tour at the corner of Second Avenue and North 8th Street, Trinity has been serving cookies and hot beverages during the walking tour since the Christmas event began.

Along with serving refreshments, a variety of musical entertainment will be presented in the sanctuary. The Trinity choir will sing at 6 p.m., Harpeggios will perform at 6:30, followed with a short drama by Mike Morehouse, the Opelika Women’s Chamber and Impressions Choir, soloists Teresa Rhyne at 7:30, and pianist Lew Scharpf from 8:30 until 9:30,taking requests for favorite Christmas music. Each time the music changes, the church’s chimes will ring.

“In the past few years,” says Mack Arrington of Trinity, “we have opened the sanctuary for people to see this beautiful historic church decorated for Christmas. This year we thought we needed to take this opportunity to showcase the ministries and members of Trinity.”

Mack is also a member of the Opelika Citizens Police Academy Alumni. “The alumni will be using the Trinity kitchen,” says Mack, “to make coffee and hot chocolate to take to members of the Opelika Police Department who are manning the barricades in the neighborhood.”

Sally Sheehan is chairman of the cookies. Last year she gathered over 200 dozen homemade cookies from members of Trinity. This year, they may have more cookies. A variety of cookies will be served with hot chocolate and cider. If any cookies are leftover, they are donated to Feeding God’s Children, a program at the church that feeds children in need.

The Opelika Historic Preservation Society will be serving cookies and wassail (apple juice for children) at the historic Brownfield House on North 8th Street, while the First Presbyterian Church on North 9th Street will also offer an assortment of cookies and beverages.

The tour opens Wed, Dec. 6, with a driving tour. On Friday night, Dec. 8, wagon and trolley rides through the neighborhood are available, as downtown Opelika celebrates Christmas in a Railroad Town. Tour guides take visitors back in time with entertaining history of the town.

Saturday is reserved for the walking tour. A tree lighting ceremony with Opelika Mayor Gary Fuller and his wife, Laura, kicks off the walking tour at 6 p.m. at the corner of North 8th Street and Second Avenue.

Streets are closed to traffic, as residents in the historic district dress in Victorian fashions and stroll streets greeting visitors. The walking tour enables visitors to view the scenes up close and stop at the various locations to listen to carolers. The tour covers ten city blocks with 60 decorated historic homes.

The event began in 1993 when paper mache artist Jane Jones provided several of her Santas to neighbors. It became so popular with the community that the display continued to expand, becoming one of the top Christmas events in the Southeast Tourism Society. The porch tour has been featured in national publications.

When Jan Jones moved from the area in 2006, Mayor Fuller worked with the neighborhood to keep the popular tour going. Jill Bonneau volunteered as the chairman.

After Jill moved, DiAnn Cullinan took over as chairman for seven years. When she stepped down, Roger Bell became chairman. DiAnn continues as the artistic director and creating paper mache figures.

Porches are spotlighted with life-size paper mache Santas, angels, wise men, toys and other holiday themed figures, creating Victorian Christmas scenes. The tour is offered to the community free of charge.

This weekend enjoy the festive wonderland of the Victorian Front Porch Tour, and relax afterwards with cookies and a hot beverage. Cap the evening with music in the sanctuary at Trinity for kicking off a joyous season with your family.

Ann Cipperly can be contacted at recipes@cipperly.com.

Recipes:

Peanut Butter Brownies Topped with Crushed Candy
Sally Sheehan
1 1/2 cups butter
5 (1 oz.) squares unsweetened baking chocolate
2 1/2 cups, plus 2 Tbsp. sugar, divided
5 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup peanut butter morsels
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
3 chocolate-covered peanut butter candy bars, crushed
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 13 X 9 inch baking pan with aluminum foil. In a small microwave-safe bowl, melt butter and chocolate in microwave oven on high for 30 second intervals, stirring after each, until melted (approximately 1 1/2 minutes total).
In a large bowl, combine chocolate mixture and 2 1/2 cups sugar. Beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until well-blended Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Add flour, vanilla, and salt, beating until just combined. Stir in peanut butter morsels. Spread batter into prepared pan.
In a small microwave-safe bowl, combine peanut butter and 2 Tbsp. sugar. Microwave on high for 30 seconds until melted, stir until smooth.
Drop mixture by teaspoonfuls over batter in pan. Using a knife, swirl peanut butter mixture into brownie batter. Sprinkle crushed candy bars on top of batter.
Bake 40 minutes, or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out slightly sticky. Cool completely in pan on wire rack.

Raisin Crunch Cookies
Barbara Arrington
1¼ cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
½ cup old-fashioned or quick-cooking oats
½ cup (1 stick) butter
¾ cup firmly packed brown sugar or ¼ cup + 2 Tbsp. brown sugar Splenda for Baking
½ cup granulated sugar or ¼ cup Splenda for Baking
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla
¾ cup Post Raisin Bran Cereal
1 cup Baker’s Angel Flake Coconut
½ cup chopped pecans (optional)
Preheat oven to 350. Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda and oats; set aside. Beat softened butter and sugars in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy.
Add egg and vanilla; mix well. Gradually add flour mixture, beating until well blended after each addition. Add cereal, coconut and pecans; stir until well blended.
Drop heaping teaspoonfuls of dough, 2 inches apart, onto parchment lined baking sheets.
Bake 12 to 14 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on baking sheets 4 minutes; remove to wire racks. Cool completely. Makes 4 dozen.

Fat Chocolate Cookies
Ann Carswell
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter (melted)
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1 egg
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease cookie sheet or line it with parchment paper. Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt.
Set aside. In a medium bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar until well blended. Beat in the vanilla, egg and egg yolk until light and creamy.
Mix in the sifted ingredients until blended. Stir in the chocolate chips by hand using a wooden spoon.
Drop cookie dough 1/4 cup at a time on the prepared cookie sheet. Dough should be 3” apart.
Bake for 15-17 minutes (depending on your oven) in a preheated oven or until the edges are slightly browned depending on your taste. Cool on the cookie sheet for a few minutes before transferring them.

Carrot Cake Cookies
Jennifer Faircloth
1/2 cup butter softened
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
8 oz. can crushed pineapple, drained
3/4 cup shredded carrots
1 cup raisins
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Use parchment paper or Pam on cookie sheet. Cream together butter and brown sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Stir in pineapple, carrots and raisins.
In separate bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Stir dry ingredients into carrot mixture; add chopped walnuts.
Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto cookie sheet.
Bake 15-20 minutes until bottoms begin to brown & cookies are set.
Allow to cool completely.
Note: Can frost with cream cheese frosting, if desired.

Tea Cakes
Janet Scott
3/4 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 and 1/2 cups self-rising flour
Combine all ingredients and chill. When ready to roll cookies, add some flour to the board. Roll out and cut into desired shapes. Bake at 350 degrees until edges are slightly brown.
Icing:
Using desired amounts, mix powdered sugar, milk, dab of shortening, about a tsp. of vanilla and food coloring until you have a good consistency.

M & M Cookies
Claire Watts
1 cup shortening
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
2 heaping cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. mini M & M’s
Cream shortening, sugar and vanilla. Add eggs and beat well. Combine dry ingredients and add to dough. Mix together. Stir mini M & M’s into the dough. Drop by tsp. on ungreased baking sheet. Bake 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes.

Peanut Blossom Cookies
Anne Davis
1¾ cups all purpose flour 
1/2 cup sugar 
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar 
1 tsp. baking soda 
1/2 tsp. salt 
1/2 cup shortening 
1/2 cup peanut butter 
2 Tbsp. milk 
1 tsp. vanilla 
1 egg 
Sugar 
48 Hershey’s® Kisses® Brand milk chocolates, unwrapped
Heat oven to 375. In large bowl, combine flour, 1/2 cup sugar, brown sugar, baking soda, salt, shortening, peanut butter, milk, vanilla and egg. Mix with electric mixer on low speed until stiff dough forms.
Shape dough into 1-inch balls; roll in sugar. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets.
Bake at 375°F for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Immediately top each cookie with 1 milk chocolate candy, pressing down firmly so cookie cracks around edge; remove from cookie sheets.

Old Fashioned Lace Cookies
Mary Ann Swanson
1 1/2 cups old fashioned oatmeal
1 stick butter, softened
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
1 egg
2/3 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. plain flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla
Mix oatmeal, butter and egg. Then add dry ingredients.
It is important to cover sheet pan with foil sprayed with Pam.
Drop by tsp. (the batter will spread). Bake 325 for 11-12 minutes.
Completely cool, and then peel off cookies.

Gooey Chocolate Caramel Cookie Bars
Sally Sheehan
1 box butter cake mix
1/3 cup oil
2 eggs
2 cups chocolate chips
1 cup vanilla (white chocolate) chips
1 cup Health chips or crushed candy bars
Mix above ingredients together and press half (or enough to cover the bottom of the pan) of this mixture into a greased 9 X 13 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.
Filling:
1 stick butter
40 caramels
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
Cook filling ingredients in a heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly until butter and caramels have melted, or you can microwave for 2 to 3 minutes (stirring at one minute intervals).
Spread over crust and sprinkle the other half of the first mixture on top. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until the top is lightly golden brown. Bars must be stored in the refrigerator and should be very cold before cutting into bite-sized squares. Freezes well.

Cranberry White Chocolate Cookies
Ann Carswell
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/3 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 cups white chocolate morsels
6 oz. pkg. sweetened dried cranberries or Craisins
Combine flour and next three ingredients and set aside.
Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add sugar beating well. Add eggs one at a time, beating until blended after each addition.
Add flour mixture to butter mixture gradually, beating at low speed until blended. Stir in white chocolate morsels and cranberries.
Drop cookie dough by heaping Tbsp. onto lightly greased baking sheets.
Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned on bottom. Remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Best Ever Chocolate Chip Cookies
Jennifer Faircloth
1 stick unsalted butter
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
12 oz. pkg. chocolate chips
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper or spray with Pam. Melt butter and mix with sugars, eggs and vanilla. Whisk flour, soda and salt in a separate bowl. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients but don’t over mix. Stir in the chips.
Spoon dough onto the cookie sheet and bake for 12-16 minutes. Let cool. Makes about 3 dozen.

Buffalo Cookies
Mary Ann Swanson
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 cup shortening
1 box brown sugar
2 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
4 cups plain flour
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. soda
Using a mixer, combine butter and shortening; cream together with both sugars. Add eggs one at a time. Add vanilla.
Combine flour, baking powder and soda. Gradually add to batter.
Then add the following:
2 cups regular oatmeal
2 cups cornflakes
16 oz. oz. pkg. chocolate chips
1 cup coconut
1 cup pecans
Form into balls and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 12-15 minutes at 350. Makes 45-50 large cookies or over 100 small.

Magic Cookie Bars
Janet Scott
1/2 cup margarine or butter
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
14-oz. can Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk
6-oz. pkg. semi-sweet chocolate chips
3 1/2-oz. can flaked coconut
1 cup chopped nuts
Preheat oven to 350 degrees (325 degrees for glass dish). In 13×9 inch baking pan, melt margarine in oven. Sprinkle crumbs over margarine; pour condensed milk evenly over crumbs. Top with remaining ingredients; press down firmly.
Bake 25-30 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool. Chill thoroughly, if desired. Cut into bars. Store loosely covered at room temperature.
Cowboy Cookies
Anne Davis
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
3/4 cup chopped pecans
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups old-fashioned oats
2 cups (12 oz.) chocolate chips
Place coconut and pecans on a 15x10x1-in. baking pan. Bake at 350 for 6 to 8 minutes or until toasted, stirring every 2 minutes. Set aside to cool.
In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt. Add to creamed mixture; beat well. Stir in the oats, chocolate chips and toasted coconut and pecans.
Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto greased baking sheets. Bake at 350 for about 12 minutes or until browned. Remove to wire racks to cool. Makes 6 dozen.

Thumbprint Cookies
Sally Sheehan
¼ cup butter, softened
¼ cup shortening
¼ cup brown sugar – packed
½ tsp. vanilla
1 cup flour
1 egg, separated
½ tsp. salt
¾ cup finely chopped pecans
Jelly
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix butter, shortening, sugar,
egg yolk and vanilla. Work in flour and salt until dough holds
together. Shape into 1-inch balls.
Beat egg white slightly. Dip each dough ball into egg-white then roll into nuts. Place 1 inch apart on ungreased baking sheet. Press thumb deeply into center of each. Bake about 10 minutes or until light brown. Immediately remove from baking sheet. Cool and fill thumbprint with jelly.

Lemon Delights
Mary Ann Swanson
1 package of lemon Supreme Cake Mix
Icing:
Juice of 2 lemons
Juice of 2 oranges
Grated rinds
1 1/2 box powdered sugar
Mix cake as directed on package and bake in mini muffin pans.
Combine remaining ingredients. While cakes are hot, dip them in the icing.

Date Balls
Sally Sheehan
1 cup margarine
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
2 cups chopped dates
2 cups chopped pecans
2 egg yolks
1 Tbsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
4 cups rice krispies
Confectioner’s sugar or coconut needed for rolling baked balls
Combine the first six ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a boil
for 2 minutes. Add vanilla and rice krispies. Allow to cool.
Form into 1 inch balls. Roll in confectioner’s sugar or coconut. Store in
air tight container.

Neiman-Marcus Cookies
Mary Ann Swanson
5 cups oatmeal (blended)
2 cups butter, softened
2 cups brown sugar
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
4 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. soda
24 oz. chocolate chips
8 oz. Hershey Bar (grated)
3 cups chopped nuts
Measure oatmeal and blend in blender to fine powder; set aside. Cream the butter and both sugars. Add eggs, vanilla and mix together with flour, oatmeal, salt, baking powder and soda. Add chocolate chips, Hershey Bar and nuts.
Roll into balls and place two inches apart on cookie sheet. Bake for 10
minutes at 375. Makes 112 cookies. Can half the recipe.

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