Claudia Deason – Better Than Paula Dean
By LAURA BROOKHART/Community columnist
Three generations are gathered at Claudia Deason’s dining table to share a hand making dozens of batches of traditional cookies that will be given to friends during the holidays.
Amongst the joking and camaraderie, Emily Wissinger, Caitlin Deason, Erin Reid, Embree Deason and Denise Oelschlager continue the momentum throughout the day.
On the kitchen island are tubs of baklava, awaiting its final honey soak and a large bowl containing some eleven pounds of crushed walnuts and spices.
Claudia Deason and her late husband, Harold, were the owners of the original Incahoots restaurant, where they lovingly fed customers and friends. Claudia recalls that Harold was on local television preparing his roast leg of lamb many Christmases ago.
Their traditions through the years still endure. The Deason side of the family is hosted for breakfast the week before Christmas; Christmas Day brings the large Greek side of the family together for the day that begins with an extensive breakfast.
After this, Claudia starts preparation on the Avgolemono, their late afternoon soup. She serves it, as did her yaya (grandmother) before her, but notes this egg-lemon soup is an acquired taste.
“Embree swears it cures cancer. She will pretend to be sick so I’ll make it for her,” Deason adds with a smile.
Every surface at the Deason home is bedecked for Christmas—from the ribbon-draped chandelier to the long-horned kudu over the fireplace sporting a Santa hat and collar of ribbon and bells.
On the dining buffet is a ceramic nativity scene, still in perfect condition, made in 1966 by Claudia’s mother, Lula Kakoliris. A slender small tree is covered with grandchildren’s pictures through the years.
Both Deason and Oelschlager favor the Koulouakia—a lightly sweet, butter cookie perfect for dipping in coffee.
Cream together 1½ sticks butter, ¼ cup Crisco and 1 cup sugar. Add three eggs – use two separate, one white only and save yolk for glaze. Add slowly to mixture and beat lightly.
Add 1 tsp. vanilla, 4 cups flour, ¼ tsp. baking soda and 3 tsp. baking powder. Refrigerate dough for 15-20 minutes. Spray pans with Pam. Form twisted cookies from dough. Glaze with egg yolk and water. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
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