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Southern Cheese Straws

Sunday, December 17, 2017


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As a little girl growing up, these were a common sight at my nana's house. She made cheese straws all the time because she knew everyone loved them. She did that often. She spent hours in her kitchen, humming songs under her breath that I am sure she learned by listening to her mother and grandmother hum those same notes so many years ago. Along with lemon bundt cake and homemade chex mix, these cheese straws were on a constant rotation on her kitchen counter. I can still see the old, rectangular Tupperware container in my mind. She layered the straws in wax paper ( wrinkly and thin from the last time she made a batch. She was an avid recycler long before it was the cool thing to do ;) ) and you could see the deep orange straws through the container and we all knew what she had done all afternoon. She knew it made us all happy and she  baked these with love every time . In the later years of her life, she still made them. Only my papa would step in and help her. He would pipe them onto a cookie sheet while she watched. The visual in my mind of the two of them together, working their old, tired hands in the dough, will forever be a part of me.  When I grew up  , married and moved away, they both knew that my kids had developed a love for them as well, and they would trek to their home town an hour or so away and they would pick up  a half block of aged cheddar cheese from the country store that has supplied my family with nourishment for decades. From cheese to sausage to old fashioned candy, the store holds as many cherished memories as the food itself. I still remember climbing in their big old Cadillac , all the grandkids in the back seat, and taking a road trip to that old homestead and the old store on the way back home. So when they got word we were on our way, they would go on a cheese run. And my kids learned quickly what that old Tupperware container held and they appreciated it and looked forward to them each and every time we would venture home. I havent had any cheese straws in many months. My nana passed away  a few years ago. Needless to say, that is also when my heart shattered into a million pieces. I haven't made a batch of cheese straws since she left us. So today I woke up and made a batch of her cheese straws. I didn't have her cheese. I don't have the same container to put them in. But they are made. They are waiting on the counter for my babies to enjoy when they walk in the door. And I know when they see them, they will smile. And their bellies will be full. Not just food full, but soul full. And for that I am thankful. So here is her recipe. With a twist. I hope she is looking down today and smiling.


Cheddar Cheese Straws

1 lb (16oz) shredded sharp cheddar cheese (the sharper the better)
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temp
3 c all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp paprika



Preheat oven to 330 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
In a mixing  bowl, add the cheese and butter. Using the paddle attachment of your mixer, mix until smooth, about 8 to 10 minutes.
In a separate bowl, add the flour, salt, cayenne and paprika. Mix well and gradually add the flour to the cheese mixture, beating well after each addition. Your batter should be a slightly sticky and smooth. If it separates and looks dry, you have added too much flour. Just add a tsp or so of milk and soften it up again. I never use the whole 3 cups of flour, there is always about 1/4 cup left.
When you get a smooth dough, press a bit of dough into a cookie press fitted with the star shaped disk. Pipe the dough into straight lines on the cookie sheets.
Repeat until all of the dough is used.
Bake until lightly browned, @ 12 to 14 minutes ( depending on your oven. Keep an eye on them) Let them cool on the pans. Carefully remove off the pans and store in an airtight container.


** If you  do not have a cookie press you can roll aout the dough and cut strips with a pizza cutter or sharp knife. Or you can make small cookies. Just flatten slightly and adjust the cook time.

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