Now Is the Month of Maying

A May Basket

A May Basket

May is getting ready to show off its lawns strewn with daffodils and its doorways decked with lilac blossoms. Of course, we can’t be 100 percent sure we’re through with snow in western Massachusetts; a couple of years ago we saw the white stuff on Memorial Day weekend. Nevertheless, there’s a general consensus among the robins, gardeners, and ladybugs that spring has arrived at last.


The first holiday we celebrate is of course May Day, May 1. When I was in graduate school (where I had Marxist leanings) May Day was a serious time devoted to discussions of flaws in the capitalist system. Back home in Hawley it’s a more cheerful day on which older residents recall the delightful tradition of delivering May baskets to neighbors.


Hawleyites over 60 have told me that they used to hang May baskets on friends’ doorways not only on May Day but throughout the month of May. They sought out early flowers and baked special treats to deliver in their small, hand-decorated baskets. Each evening the May basket deliveries were a source of play, creativity, and fellowship.

To them, the May basket tradition evokes a time when schools were located in neighborhoods around town and when Hawley seemed to enjoy more community spirit in town as a result. They know they can’t go back to that educational system (as the current headlines attest, schools are becoming more rather than less consolidated). Nevertheless, they recall the tradition with fondness.


I like to deliver May baskets myself, at least on a minor scale. I’m hopeless at decorating the baskets, but I can pick flowers and make treats like a pro. My recipe for this special day is for tiny lime cookies that burst with spring flavor. It comes from King Arthur Flour. (So do some of its signature ingredients.)


Even if readers don’t have enough days left to order the ingredients for this May Day, I hope they’ll take a little time to gather a bouquet or make something tasty for a special neighbor. This tradition can still build community in the 21st century.

My neighbor Alice samples a cookie.

My neighbor Alice samples a cookie.

Little Lime Cookies


If you’d like to order the lime powder and oil required for this recipe, give KAF a call at 1-800- 827-6836. You can probably do without the lime powder (although your cookies will have less lime kick!), but the oil is strong and useful.




for the cookies:


1/4 cup (1/2 stick) sweet butter at room temperature

1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar

1-1/2 teaspoons lime powder (available from King Arthur Flour)

1/2 teaspoon lime oil (available from King Arthur Flour)

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup flour


for the topping:


3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar

1-1/2 teaspoons lime powder



Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, waxed paper, or a silicone mat.


First, make the cookies. In a bowl, combine the butter, confectioner’s sugar, lime powder, lime oil, and salt. They need not be beaten heavily; just mix them together with a spoon. Stir in the flour.


Form the cookies into 20 small balls using a cookie scoop or the palms of your hands. Shaping the rounds is a little tricky as the dough can be crumbly, but perseverance pays off!


Place the balls on the prepared cookie sheet and pop them into the oven. Bake the cookies for 17 to 18 minutes, until they are set and lightly brown around the edges. While they are in the oven mix together the sugar and lime powder for the topping.


After a minute or two remove the cookies from the sheets. King Arthur Flour provides two different methods for the topping. The method I used was to roll the cookies in the topping while still warm, then roll them again after they had cooled.  You may also roll them only once about 10 minutes after they come out of the oven.


Serve when cool. Makes 20 cookies (more if you’re good at shaping them into really tiny balls!)

Don’t forget that anyone who takes out an e-mail subscription to this blog before May 3 is eligible for the drawing for a free Good Now green kitchen tool, courtesy of Lamson & Goodnow. Please let your friends know about the drawing. Here’s the subscription link:

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This little May Basket was made by the late Judith Russell.

This little May Basket was made by the late Judith Russell.


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4 Responses to “Now Is the Month of Maying”

  1. Libby says:

    What a wonderful post about the old tradition. I’d never heard of it. Thanks for sharing.

  2. E. Sheppard says:

    I love your charming blog! I will definitely be back here to read it again.

  3. Parejas says:

    Your post Lime Cookies for May Baskets | In Our Grandmothers' Kitchens was very interesting when I found it over google on Saturday by my search for cookie baskets. I have your blog now in my bookmarks and I visit your blog again, soon. Take care.

  4. At last a blog which is what it says on the side of the can. Thank you so much for all the content you have here, particularly Lime Cookies for May Baskets | In Our Grandmothers' Kitchens. It’s really great. Billi Viltman.