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Monday, February 6, 2012

Turtle Cookies and a Book Signing

A couple of weeks ago I received a Facebook event invitation to a Meet the Author Series at Paragraphs on Padre Boulevard.  If you've read my blog for a while, you've picked up on the fact that I love our indie bookstore on the island and am very fond of owners Joni and Griff.   I have, for one reason or another, been unable to attend any function there for several months but this particular event was drawing me in as I am fascinated by Allison the Sea Turtle!  I clicked "yes", I would attend.  I clipped the following from the online event invitation from Paragraphs.

“Allison: The mostly true story of a one-flippered sea turtle”
Book discussion, reception and signing with David Cromwell

Allison is a Green Sea Turtle living at Sea Turtle Inc. on South Padre Island. Greens are endangered. They are considered to be the second-largest ...
and longest lived of the sea turtle species. Allison was found on the South Padre beach June 16 2005, one of 73 sea turtles that stranded that year. She was missing three flippers thought to have occurred with a shark encounter. Weighing a mere .73kg (1.6 lbs), she was taken to Sea Turtle Rescue for evaluation and medical care. Her story of survival and rehabilitation is chronicled in this book by David Cromwell. Combining a fictional story and the true rescue of Allison, the book is an entertaining and educational work that is appealing to all ages. 

Event scheduled Monday, 2/6/2012, from 1:00-3:00.  Come if you can!

Much of what I've come to love about living on the bay and near South Padre Island, are the wonderful people who love the wildlife and sea life of the Gulf of Mexico, the Laguna Madre, and the land between and around.  Whether it be sea turtles, our tribe of dolphins, year-round shore birds and sea birds, the migratory birds who stop for a breather and renourishment on their way south or north, the butterflies, the fish, and the plants and all bonds together to make an amazing interdependent ecosystem that has grabbed my heart and held firm.
I've visited the Sea Turtles, Inc. facility many times and enjoy watching the rescued sea turtles via the live cam powered by the wonderful folks at South Padre Travel Lodge and  I have that one and the live cam at The Sea Life Center on my favorites bar.  The teen and I enjoyed to the depths of our souls observing a hatchling release of sea turtles.  A great pleasure of mine is viewing the birds on the bay and the lovely flora outside my door, but equally so at the South Padre Island Convention Center's walkway.  I get to enjoy the lovely butterfly garden there as well. Not much beats the beaches here.  The waves and solitude of off-season are glorious.  The tourists and happy families of high season bring financial sustenance to the island and the Winter Texans bring their enjoyment of the sub-tropics and birding during the winter months. 
We moved here to facilitate the teen going to a small high school where he could grow more independent... and found, in addition, a place that makes my heart sing with joy. I don't know if I'll live here forever...but my heart tells me that it wants me to.  I hope it is what my future holds...but who knows?
So, anyway, I really digress sometimes!  I decided to make some turtle sugar cookies and take them to the book signing.  It's been lovely the past few days.  I baked two dozen cut-out turtle cookies on Saturday and prepared to lower my a/c thermostat to clear out the moisture on Sunday so that I could get the royal icing to dry appropriately.  The weather ceased cooperation Saturday afternoon when the big rains began to fall and by Sunday morning the cold front moved in and the temperature dropped to the upper 40's (brrr, not very tropical) and the rain continued to fall.  Hmmm...I was not going to be able to use the a/c to remove the humidity and my well-insulated home was maintaining a low 70's temp, so I couldn't really turn on the heater to accomplish the humidity removal.  I think that makes it the cross-my-fingers-and-say-a-prayer play.  So, here goes the tale of my frustrating attempt to decorate sea turtle cookies to take to the Meet the Author event!

From the beginning the royal icing thumbed its nose at me...first too thick, then little clumps of stuff clogging my tips, despite well beaten, well sifted, and appropriately covered at every point.  Grrrr, the frustration mounted.  The green icing separated to different shades on several cookies - the colors not consistent. Dang humidity.  Big sigh...but, I told myself, turtle shells aren't a smooth consistent color either.  The brown was lighter than I thought it would be when it was time to use that color - it became more "tan" than brown.  Again, I gave the "oh well", it is what it is talk to myself.  Overall, they still turned out "okay".  Not my very best work - but not my worst!  Here are pictures of the process - warts and all!

Baked 25 cut-out sugar cookies.  The teen ate one.
First, outlined the green and filled.  Allowed to dry several hours.
Then, outlined the head and flippers in "brown".
Filled in the head and flippers and allowed to dry
Drew my interpretation of the shell markings on the green surface
Finished up with an edible food marker and gave some eyes and flipper detail
(none of the markings are anatomically correct just fyi!)
The turtle on the left shows the mottling that occurred on some of the cookies.
A few of the turtles I'll be taking to Paragraphs on Padre today - I ended
up with two dozen and expect most of them to arrive intact as
my offering at the event!

Tuddles...just love them.  Sea Turtle, Inc. does good work - rescue, rehabilitate, release when they can.  Educating the public and helping to conserve these glorious creatures - all started by The Turtle Lady, the late Ms. Ila.  It's a wonderful thing to see her work continue.  If you have spare dollars - a contribution to their cause would be awesome.  They have cool things in their online shop as well.  Take a look - order the book, a calendar, or other cool turtle themed items.

Kemps Ridley Hatchling Release June 2011 - it was awesome!
Maybe one of the most moving events of my life...
certainly an unforgettable highlight!
Update after the book signing event.
The staff and volunteers from Sea Turtle Inc. brought a pool and Allison to visit at Paragraphs.  It was wonderful to see her - it's been over a year since I last saw her and I swear she has grown a lot.  I realized that the first time I saw her was the year she was rescued when she was so small she would have fit in both of my hands together.  Look at her now!  Her prosthesis has evolved and they are planning a new pool for her which will help the staff get the prothsesis on in shallow water and allow her to have a few hours of swim time in deeper water with the prosthesis on.  Good folks at Sea Turtle, Inc.  I enjoyed visiting with the author, David Cromwell, and the others from Sea Turtle, Inc.  It was a great afternoon.  Here are a few photos of Allison in her portable pool!

Thank you Sea Turtle, Inc. and all the many volunteers and financial donors who make the work they do possible!


The Bearfoot Baker



  1. Oh my lord, those are the most amazingly detailed cookies! Love the cause :)


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