There was no such thing as too many cooks in the kitchen of Suzy and Brian Fox last weekend.
The North Boise home was headquarters for a cookie-baking party that happens in a different city each year around this time.
The tradition that started in 2003 has brought together family members from 3 to 98 years old. The annual get-togethers are a chance to reflect on the year, flip through a photo album that chronicles the tradition and tell old stories.
And, of course, make lots of goodies.
The team of sisters, nieces, parents and even a great-grandmother make almost 1,000 cookies and confections to divvy up and take home.
“There are always five chiefs” running the operation, said Shelly Ovre, who lives in Minnesota.
This year, the Fox family devoted three rooms to the event and parked a trailer out front for extra sleeping quarters.
Suzy Fox’s twin sister, Stephanie Hawbaker, lives in Emmett, but most everyone else traveled to Boise at the end of last week.
The crew hit up WinCo, piling a mountain of ingredients into grocery carts.
They bought at least a dozen pounds of butter.
At home Saturday afternoon, two of the founding members — sisters Pam Rausch and Jo Thornton of Iowa — reminisced about starting the tradition.
The early years included their sister Diana, whom they lost to cancer, and mother Alene Hawbaker, who would have turned 105 this year.
Hawbaker’s recipes are part of the tradition. Thornton cooks up a batch of peanut brittle in a cast-iron skillet, just like her mother did.
There are constants. Someone always makes pecan sandies. Someone gets a minor baking injury. Some impossible-to-find ingredient will require improvisation.
But it’s also a chance to make new memories — like the year they woke up to find a dog with a full belly and a table missing its cookies.
And it’s an event that, with all its buttery sweetness, bridges generations.
“This is awesome!” said 9-year-old Chloe Fox as she bounced around her house.
Her job titles Saturday were “cookie tester” and “spoon licker.”
There were still so many treats left for Chloe to try: Stephanie Hawbaker hadn’t yet made her huckleberry truffles; and Ritz crackers still needed to be crushed, mixed with peanut butter and dipped in white chocolate.
But her favorite cookies “so far” were a batch of meringues — delicate desserts that will leave Boise today in suitcases headed for Iowa, Minnesota or even farther east, at least until next year.
Audrey Dutton: 377-6448, Twitter: @IDS_Audrey