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I realize that keeping blog readers in suspense for an entire month will likely create some unrealistic expectations for this entry…especially for those imagining that I’ve been baking away the last 4 weeks creating new, awe inspiring cookies. Alas, ’tis not the case. Between cramming the last few camping weekends into the summer, and getting my only daughter, Madame, ready for french school, and for the heck of it planning an open house for my parents’ 40th anniversary…I’ve had little time for cookies. But, I didn’t say ‘no’ time….as there is always time for cookies.

The end of August marked the end of an era for us – the end of daycare, and the beginning of school. My husband and I both work full time jobs, and so daycare has been a necessary way of life the last 3 years. I’ve always maintained that I don’t have the endurance to be a full time stay at home mom. That being said, I’ve never been happy with full time daycare. Sadly, no real happy¬† medium. I always had reservations about dropping Madame off at daycare, where she would normally spend a large part of her day with people who were not family. What made the time bearable was finding a phenomenal daycare with caring staff. They eventually became her family and so it was difficult to let them go. I decided to make them some teacher cookies as a thank you. I decided on gold stars, chalkboards, crayons, globes, rulers and apples. Originally, I had wanted to make high heels shoe cookies for Ms. J, who loves shoes, then paint brushes and paint cookies for Ms. Jk, who loves to paint – however, the time required to make all those shapes and mix all those icing colours just wasn’t there.

I started off with my orange sugar cookie dough, using a circle cutter for the globe and apple, a square for the chalkboard, a star, and then cutting out the rulers and crayons with a long spatula. I outlined the baked cookies in chocolate, which is always how I begin my icing.

I let that dry for about 20 mins, then filled the inside with the base colour. When the apple base colour was done, I put a small bit of white (wet in wet) to make the reflection in the apple). Once the base was dry, about 45 minutes, I added the details – apple leaves, lettering, continents, crayon details, ruler markings. Ta dah! Of course, I also made cupcake cookies for all of Madame’s little daycare friends! Soon I’ll post some pics from the big anniversary shindig. 50 days of planning, 300 people, 24 cold salads, 20 pans of squares and a whole lot of acadian fun!

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Fiddle Faddle

First, let me say, this is not a post on how to make caramel covered popcorn and peanuts. Ok, now that that’s out of the way, here I go…

For the last 8 weeks or so, my dad has been in cancer treatment in the city, which is about 4 hours from home for him. He and my mom have been travelling to the city during the week, and spending their weekends back home, in a small fishing village on the shores of Cape Breton Island. During the week, they reside at a Cancer Society lodge, where they are given 3 square meals and a place to stay. But it’s more than that, it’s a support network of health care workers, and hair dressers, and massage therapists, and mostly a place where people with cancer spend time together, talk, sing, play bingo, laugh..and probably cry. My dad speaks fondly of singing songs and playing guitar and fiddle with the other residents, and so when he asked me if I could make him some guitar and fiddle cookies for his new friends, I didn’t hesitate. So I did what I normally do when I don’t have the right cookie for the job – I surfed the net for clipart. I love clip art. It is my true cookie inspiration. I don’t like to search existing cookies/cookie maker websites, mainly because I want to keep things original if I can. Once I’ve found the right piece of clip art, I print it to the right size for a cookie, cut it out, and use it to cut out my dough.¬† Here is the process, showing the guitar clip art. Since guitar and fiddle handles are quite thin and delicate, try to resist the temptation to cut them to actual shape, or they will cause you no end of frustration.

guitar clip art cut outNow, first let me say that if you are cutting images out of dough, you need a thin sharp knife, and it is best to use dough that has been rolled out on wax paper and chilled to near frozen. If dough isn’t chilled, then the edges turn out rough (as you will see from the final product, my dough wasn’t quite chilled when I cut them out). See below the difference in edging between chilled and non-chilled dough. If you find the chilled dough is a bit too hard to cut, then leave it out for just a minute or two and try again. Also, try not to keep the knife blade vertical, keep it as low to the dough as possible.

chilled vs non chilled dough for cutting outThe sugar cookie dough I use is a basic dough with orange rind. Once I cut out my cookies, I usually freeze them in layers between flour-dusted wax paper, then bake at a later time. I’ll spend some time in later posts explaining my production process! For the fiddle cookies, I followed a piece of clip art, and drew the outline of the fiddle base in chocolate royal icing with a #3 Wilton tip. Then I piped in the black fiddle handle with a #3 tip as well.

Once the outline was dry – about 20 minutes or so – I flooded with brown royal icing using a #3 Wilton tip. I let the cookies dry overnight, and the next morning I piped on the black details with a #2 Wilton tip, and the strings with a #1 Wilton Tip. Here is the finished product:

Once I make a batch of cookies using a piece of clip art, if the cookies turn out OK, then my husband shapes a metal cookie cutter for me. The edges on the fiddles are not ideal, but I was fairly happy with the icing job. They are headed for delivery tomorrow, and I hope they bring out at least a few smiles! Now granted, some of these smiles might be dabbed with black on account of the black icing, but I’ll save my ‘I hate using black icing’ rant for another day!

Post #1 on my cookie blog…I’m searching my soul to try to write something witty and fun and captivating. Wait for it….wait for it….nope, not coming to me. Will you take a raincheck? Ok then, stay tuned, and hopefully I’ll manage to charm you into coming back to visit, even if only to take a quick boo at any of the neat, cute and fun cookies I have on the go.