Loose Ends

Loose Ends

the creative impulse gone awry

Monday, January 3, 2011

return to reality

At least, almost.  Today is our first day back to the real world from vacation.  Sigh.  I knew it had to happen, but it's always so nice to have Josh at home that I try to pretend it will last forever.  We're all having a bit of a difficult time transitioning to our day to day (even with some big changes we've made to hopefully make our lives a little easier) so I'm going to spend the next couple of posts reliving our glory days from the holidays.  Let's try to stretch the 12 days of Christmas out a little more, okay?

I want to take a short step back in time.  This is the second year that Clara and I have made christmas cookies.  The first time we made them, it was literally the first time we had ever made cut-out cookies together and there was quite a learning curve.  She was just past her 2nd birthday, I was pregnant, we were in a different place altogether because we were still working in the shop almost every day.... oy.  It was fun, but also frustrating for both of us, we were just trying to jam too much into our schedules. 

I had decided that I wanted to start a collection of cookie cutters. My family LOVES a theme present, so for the holidays we were gifted quite a few from my aunt Ninny, who always seems to get THE perfect present.  I also went shopping for some more with my Mom.  We went up to Rooster Brother in Ellsworth, ME, a fantastic shop for cooks and picked up some extra weird ones and some for specific themes.  They have a great selection and we got lobsters, sailboats, tons of farm animals and a squirrel!  I haven't actually counted our collection, but I'm sure it's close to 200 cookie cutters.  Honestly, half the time it takes us to make cookies is in the selection process.  I still have more that I would like to find.  We have all of the farm animals, but no farm buildings... it would be awesome to have fences and barns, then we could make a whole edible farm playset!  But I digress....

Clara and I spent the next few months making cookies all the time.  We mostly made the alphabet, as we were trying to teach Clara her ABCs and she could eat whichever letters she could name.  She started calling any cut-out cookies "Letter cookies" because we spent so much time just making letters.  We have made dozens of batches of cut-out cookies since last year, so when it came time to make some to give away for the holidays, we were practically professional bakers!  We narrowed our selection down to ones that were wintery, but not christmas-y, and made DOZENS.

The only difference between these and our regular cookies is that we decorated these ones.  I only took photos of the decorating part... the cut-out part being such old hat by now.  I find frosting to be challenging when decorating, because it never quite seems to set up well and then the cookies get stuck together in the tins.  My favorite technique is to loosen up some frosting with water to make a wash for the cookies, I paint the wash onto all of the cookies and Clara uses sprinkles to decorate. We used a sparkly white frosting for the wash and so everything kind of shimmers a bit.  Very cool.

This time, we didn't get too frustrated, and we made just enough to feel like we had plenty, without getting bored. A double batch, which makes quite a few cookies (especially when 2/3rds of them are tiny snowmen...) 

This year we decided to up the ante a bit for our holiday gift tins.  In addition to the cookies, we made some toffee and some peppermint bark.  It's amazing that we were able to do so much, but Zoë does love a long nap!  The week before the holidays we spent one nap a day doing some baking and we ended up with way more than we needed.  First we baked the cookies, then the next day we made the peppermint bark, then the next day the toffee, then the next day we decorated the cookies and then on the weekend we put all the tins together.  It was lots of fun.  We have had some reports back on the treats and now we know who likes what the best... so next year oure recipients can expect a little more of their favorites in the tins.  It's a fun tradition that really gets Clara involved in the gift-giving.  I'm sure that next year we'll add more to the list of treats that we make.  It's so much fun to cook together, and I can't imagine it, but Zoë will be helping next year (is that even possible?) 

This year I was also able to use a cookie cutter that my mother gave me that belonged to my great-grandmother and namesake, which was especially wonderful for me.  These little things passed down mean so much to me.  The star with the wavy edges is hers.

Especially good times.  Our little blogging vacation is over and I have so much to share with you!  Lots of finished objects, some memories from our trip to maine for the holidays, and hopefully a tour of the shop so you can see some of the changes we've made (if you haven't visited in a while, things look pretty different!)  I hope you all had wonderful holidays!  Happy New Year! 

1 comment:

Elizabeth Marks said...

Those look so delicious! I love the shapes :) And how neat, to have a cookie cutter collection.