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Saturday, April 26, 2014

VIPF Readings at Paragraphs on Padre...and Some Forgotten Cookies

Every year I look forward to the Valley International Poetry Festival...because I know my friends, Joni and Griff, owners of Paragraphs on Padre, will host a poetry reading.  I enjoy the poets who come to read their work...I particularly like the performance style of the readings. I really appreciate their efforts because I know they drive all over the Rio Grande Valley on this day!

This year was no different.  The agenda at Paragraphs was full this April day - a workshop, two reading events, a practice for another event...Joni and Griff manage to juggle all of that AND take care of a store full of customers.  It was a lovely Saturday on the island and the first readings were held on the delightful patio that separates their living quarters from the book store.  Flowers bloomed, voices read with great passion, I shed some tears, and I laughed. 

I snapped photos of some of the poets.  Unfortunately, I was so busy enjoying their work, I didn't identify who was who, but I'll post the photos anyway.  Every year I take away something special from this event.  This year there were several moments.  For that, I am thankful.

If you know me, you know I rarely attend an event without a little somethin'-somethin' to share with folks.  This year, I was up at 11:00 last night preparing some Forgotten Cookies.  I wrote about them in 2010, but never took pictures that I know of.  I colored these light blue and used up some "Spring" colored chocolate chips, then added some mini semi-sweet morsels as well.  They just reminded me of the beauty of today's sky and the color of the bay through my polarized sun-glass lenses.  They make me happy.  The link above is to a printable recipe and this link is to the blog post where I originally wrote about these cookies my family has enjoyed for nearly 50 years.  They are super simple to make!

Forgotten Cookies also travel well if not bounced around too much - they get a nice crispy crust and the internal chips seem to help stabilize the normally quite fragile merengue.  I can easily move them around and hold them in my hand.  If you need an easy-to-make treat some late night, this is a great one.  They will be ready when you wake up the next morning!

I also "attempted" to video record one of the readings by poet, Amalia Ortiz.  It's a newish camera so I didn't know the zoom would make so much noise...and I couldn't figure out how to stop the recording...oops.  Lots of "stuff" on the end.  Also, couldn't edit it with my current software.  I'll work on it for the future (or maybe I'll give up my video attempts and stick to making cookies) - but this was a great poem, "La Matadora", and I wanted to share the reading.  Maybe I can figure all of that out and share it eventually!

For now, enjoy your day and thanks for stopping by!

Bon Appetit, Y'all!!!

Update 5/2/2014
A link to my very pathetic video attempt.  Sorry for the poor quality - just listen to the voice - it's awesome...close your eyes if you have to.  Really, I'm bad with the new camera.


Friday, April 11, 2014

Easter and Spring...and a few cookies

I'm taking a quick trip this week-end to see my youngest, my middle, and my oldest!  Rarely do I get to visit with all of my sons at one time.  This is a real treat!  Unfortunately, Mr. Flip Flop is on-call and can't go with us.  I know someone has to do it...but he seems to have an inordinate amount of call scheduled!  Oh well, nothing to be done about it at this point.

I made a batch of Sweet Sugarbelle's Red Velvet Roll-outs because the older two have not had the chance to try them yet.  I think they are primo!  Unfortunately, the Cream Cheese MP Icing got a little wavy when I put it under a fan that was a bit too close to the cookies.  It literally moved the icing! 

I had planned to use a large Easter egg stencil I got a while I made particularly large cookies...the cutter was 5x3 inches...and the cookies expanded 1/2 inch both ways!  The entire batch of dough only made 8 rectangles and a dozen teeny tiny little mini cookies.  Due to the waviness of the iced large cookies, I was afraid to use a plastic stencil with a thick royal icing - that only works when your cookie is nicely flat. 

I decided, instead, to airbrush a background and use some pieces of lace I purchased just for this technique.  I selected two different designs and cut a swatch that would drape over the cookies easily.  I hoped this would "sort of" mask the imperfect surface.  They did a fairly good job of doing just that!  One was sort of flowery and I used a blue pearl sheen for that one.  The other seemed maybe a bit less feminine...and since I had a lot of boys...I added some purple to the blue sheen and sprayed the second half of the large cookies.  I grabbed some wafer papers I had on hand and started flying by the seat of my drawn out plan as I usually do.

I practiced free-hand printing on all of these cookies -
one of my true weak skills in the decorating arena. 
I read that cookiers were using the thinner Masters brand
bags with no tip and just a bare snippet off the tip of the
piping bag.  I had some on hand so I tried it out on a small
baking mat.  I was really amazed at the level of control I had
compared to the more traditional piping bag and tips with couplers. 
I added a smidgen of corn syrup to a thick
piping icing to get a smooth flow...and it worked! 
Some letters look better than others...
but it is an improvement for me!
The minis just got a quick base coat as my intention was for us to munch on the tidbits instead of decorate them.  Half of them did go that way - but the other half of the minis got a last minute, quickly piped flower to use up some leftover icing.  These little cookies are barely larger than
1 1/4 inch, so REAL minis!

The blue pearled cookies got a dose of Easter d├ęcor.  These are the very cute Peter Rabbit wafer papers I got from CookiePixie on Etsy.  She has a wonderful selection of prints, including vintage prints, and I feel her prices are reasonable for quality wafer paper prints.  This batch goes to my Granddaughters and my middle son.

The other cookies (including some not shown - don't get in a snit youngest son - there is one for you) had wafers of blue bonnets applied.  When we start seeing blue bonnets (around mid to late March) in Texas...we know it's Spring.  After such a rough Winter...I'm thrilled that I'll be seeing wildflowers this week-end.  It's a great sadness to me that they don't seem to grow down here by the coast.  I was happy to put them on cookies this year!

I had never tried a running bead border, so I gave it a shot
around the wafer papers.
The outer border was a shell border. 
I did use royal icing for all of the detail. 
The Cream Cheese MP Icing is really quite soft! 
It does, however, have fabulous
flavor on the Red Velvet cookies!

So, wherever you are in the U.S.A., or beyond, I hope you get to enjoy some lovely flowers and beautiful colors in your landscape...some are in Springtime...and other friends are in Autumn.  Whatever it is, I do love the moderate seasons between harsh Winter and hot Summer!  Hope you do to.

Field of Bluebonnets near Austin, TX
Photo by Ian Hook

Bon Appetit, Y'all!!!


Saturday, April 5, 2014

Point Isabel ISD 2014 Autism Awareness Walk

Not a great photo - pearlized color was doing odd things
for the camera!  The ribbon stencil was purchased
from SalsaSweets and the cute puzzle cookie
cutter was scored during my visit to Orson Gygi
in Salt Lake City!
It was lovely to see so many old friends and meet some new friends this morning after the 2014 Autism Awareness Walk in Port Isabel.  I have to admit, I slept through the walk, but I scrambled into clothes and flew out the door to be at the finish line to visit with folks, eat a hot dog, and listen to the prize drawings being called out.

For a cloudy, bordering on drizzly, was a really great turn-out!  My offerings this year were puzzle-shaped Marshmallow Krispie Treats - 2 dozen were boxed up for prizes...and some cookies of course!

I scored several fabulous boxes from BRP Box Shop
in my CookieCon swag bag - used them to package
up the door prize drawing I was contributing.
I have collected puzzle ribbon wherever I could
find it for the past two years (because it is quite
scarce during April each year).  The coastal cookies
were wrapped in some beautiful ribbon from
Ribbon by Design - a vendor and sponsor at CookieCon!
Both BRP and RBD are awesome to work with.

I made a box of coastal cookies, some "Light it Up Blue" ribbon cookies, and a couple of boxes of puzzle cookies, stenciled with a puzzle stencil.  It was a lot of fun playing with my airbrush!
I got a new palm tree cutter that is much larger than the
two I already had - they made some pretty palm trees I think!
I'm fairly certain I got those at Gygi as well!

I loved my puzzle cookies - puzzles on puzzles!
Stencil from the great selection at the Etsy shop
Artfully Designed Creations.
One of my suitcases coming back from CookieCon held all
of my cookie goodies and CC swag...
which included (but was certainly not limited to)
five bags of sanding sugar which I knew I would need
for these cookies I was planning to bake.
My hair is frizzy from the humidity but my heart is joyful from seeing so many people out on a sort-of-dreary day to support the hope that our autistic family members become integrated and accepted into local activities, daily life, and are treated just like everyone else.  That's really all we want - for them to be accepted just the way they are.  They are unique and special people with a LOT to offer our community (and communities everywhere).  You can help make it happen.  Just accept them!
(an iron-on decal I got from describes my son perfectly!)
Bon Appetit, Y'all!!!



Tuesday, April 1, 2014

I Have Found My People...and They Are Cookiers!!!

There is nothing so delightful as being surrounded by about 500 other people who like the very same thing you like.  That they are warm, caring, welcoming, and incredibly talented and creative...well, that's just icing on ...the cookie.

Yes, I'm back from CookieCon and I have no words.  The adjectives and the superlatives have all been used.  Wonderful classes, break-out sessions, speakers, the sugar art show...jam-packed into 3 exciting days of cookie joy.  My friend, Diana, and I had the time of our lives.

Diana and I enjoyed taking in the Salt Lake City and surrounding area sites.  We played tourist on Sunday before heading home on Monday.  We went to The Great Salt Lake, to Park City Ski Resort, Temple Square in downtown SLC...and my bucket list item, hearing the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.


I felt my Mom's presence with me - we both loved this choir.

I found I didn't take all that many photos in the classes.  I spent time making pages of notes (which I will need to go over repeatedly) where I documented all but the last class of the that time I had a hand cramp!  I learned many new things and a different way to do old things.  It was really beyond wonderful.

The spotlight of the event, however, was definitely seeing the incredible work of so many cookie artists in one place, in real life!  Since I can't really post hundreds of photos, I decided to put together a little slide show.  I know there are some cookies I may have missed, but I think I got the vast majority of them.  I bow to the advanced cookiers...their work is incredible.  I bow to the beginners who had the guts to put their work on display.  I bow to the intermediate talents who can see how far they've come and how far they want to go.  There was a place for every level of artist in the Sugar Art Show.

Enjoy the video and I'd love any comments you might care to make.  I am avidly waiting to learn when the NEXT CookieCon will be!

Bon Appetit, my cookie friends!