cookies

Lady Lake's gingersnaps

 

I like mornings. Enough so that I'm glad to be awake for the grey world to slowly be suffused with colour, even if I fall asleep again later once all the light is in the sky. I like seeing the orange squares of light in the window frames of the neighbouring houses. I like seeing the colours, pinks and yellows, flow from the sky into the landscape, and the drained sky to slowly turn blue.

This is kind of a strange place, with gulls wheeling by and the wind always ready to whip up strong and hearty. The garden in the back, all dry grasses and bent plants, is flooded. One night I dreamt that this whole flat area, the garden and the field next to the house, were underwater and there was a great shallow lake with ducks milling around outside the bedroom window. I went out the window into a boat.

Lady Lake's Ginger Snaps a family recipe...   2 1/4 cups flour 1 tsp cinnamon 1 Tbsp ginger 1/2 tsp salt 3/4 cup butter 1 cup sugar 1 egg 1/4 cup blackstrap molasses 1/2 cup chopped candied ginger

In a medium bowl, mix together dry ingredients, then set aside. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Add egg and continue beating. Add molasses and blend well. Gradually add dry mixture to creamed mixture until incorporated. Stir in candied ginger.

Chill dough overnight. Scoop with a spoon and roll into small balls. Roll these in granulated sugar to coat. Press flat. Bake at 350° for 10-12 minutes, careful not to burn.

Finnish sugar cookies

These cookies are a new favourite. I made them twice last winter and will certainly be baking them again before this season is out. Orange zest can be used in place of the lemon zest, however I found that it was much stronger (maybe because it's moister and compacts more) and made my teeth feel a bit funny so would try using just 1 tbsp of orange zest. You will have extra egg wash, but it will come in handy for making a second batch! The recipe comes from Trine Hahnemann's beautiful book Scandinavian Baking. Normally I'm hesitant to post a recipe that I haven't really changed much, but I've seen this recipe posted online on another blog already and why mess with perfection?

Finnish Sugar Cookies very slightly adapted from Trine Hahnemann's wonderful Scandinavian Baking

250g all-purpose flour 75g granulated sugar, plus more for the top 200g salted butter, chopped 2 tbsp finely grated organic lemon zest or 1 tbsp orange zest 1 egg, lightly beaten

Mix the flour, sugar, butter and zest, first by rubbing with your fingers and then by mixing with a wooden spoon, until the dough is smooth and firm. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for an hour.

Preheat oven to 375°.

Place the dough between two sheets of parchment paper and roll it out to a rectangle about 1.5cm thick. Remove the top layer of baking parchment.

Brush the dough with egg and dredge sugar densely on top. Carefully roll over it with a rolling pin, so the sugar is pressed slightly into the dough. Cut into 3cm x 2cm pieces, and place on baking trays lined with parchment paper. Bake for 15-18 minutes, then cool on a wire rack.

Eat or give away to loved ones!

 

February 29

I love that today is a leap day- it seems like a special pocket of time.

Outside, the cheery trills of robins are balancing the soft dreariness of grey sky on the verge of rain. This afternoon, the sun shone and lit the pink cherry blossom and warmed the rug. In the morning, as on all mornings here, sea gulls dotted the field like sheep.

This past week there were some glorious spring storms, erratic wind/rain/sun and all colours in the sky. I dug out my paints. I finally bought an umbrella. Days were segmented by cappucinos, africanos, earl grey and herbal teas. Our rabbits are molting winter down. The daffodils are nodding bright heads.

I hurt my back by lifting a bin incorrectly and have spent the past few days feeling like a century has been tacked on to my years. It's easing up now and I am so glad. (That icy-hot stuff is so weird!) How easy it is to take health for granted.

I'm including the recipe for what I wish I was making right now. I like to make and freeze a batch of these cookies to have on hand - a gift to our future selves.

Chocolate Apricot Pecan Cookies Adapted from Leslie Mackie's Macrina Cookbook. The original recipe does not call for pecans, so feel free to leave them out. 

In a medium large bowl, stir together with a whisk then set aside: 1 1/4 c whole wheat pastry flour 1 c all-purpose flour 1/2 tsp baking soda 1/2 tsp baking powder 1/4 tsp salt 1/2 tsp finely ground espresso beans

In a medium small bowl or in a KitchenAid mixer, cream until light and fluffy: 1 c butter, softened 1 c good raw/brown sugar such as panela-rapadura

Add eggs to creamed butter and sugar one at a time, mixing well, adding vanilla with second egg: 2 eggs, room temperature 2 tsp vanilla

Add dry ingredients and stir to mix until flour is just incorporated. Then stir in: 3/4 cup dried unsulphured apricots, chopped 3/4 cup pecans, toasted and cooled, roughly crushed by hand 8-9 oz dark chocolate, coarsely chopped

Let dough rest in the fridge for at least an hour before scooping and baking cookies. Or scoop then freeze dough to later thaw and bake whenever you need a few cookies! Makes about 16 cookies. Bake at 350° for 10-12 minutes. 

wintering

I suppose I should get this out of the way: I hate January. Yes, yes, the light is returning, creeping back into the days a few minutes at a time and eventually it will be spring, but it's not happening soon enough for me. There are no snowflakes here to gloss over this whole winter thing with beauty and magic. Just endless, dreary grey. I have been lamenting that my thickest, wooliest socks won't fit in my wet-weather boots. However, this winter has also been lovely, comforting, unexpected, just right. Here are some of the best and most beautiful moments:

 

  • Acres of red blueberry stalks stretching out to blue mountains under bright blue sky.
  • Hundreds of bald eagles overhead, filling all the bare trees with black and white.
  • Hoarfrost encrusting everything in lavish crystals- quartz and selenite grown overnight- rough spikes in the morning sun. The pond frozen, goldfish circulating slowly under thick ice.
  • Nights when the stars came out and the moon glowed cold and bright, all icy pricks of light above dark trees.
  • Many rosy sunrises- more breathtaking mornings than I could keep count of- puffs and pillars of pink lighted clouds on the eastern horizon.
  • That long slow golden light of the afternoon on a clear day, honey frozen in the air.
  • When we happened to drop by an old friend's just for a moment, and ended up staying for the evening. We arrived as she was pulling a dish of ultimate comfort food from the oven, and just happened to have two pies in the car, left over from an earlier occasion.
  • Snow on Hurricane Ridge, driving through mist, salal-filled roadsides.
  • The usual warm and chaotic times of family Christmas, a turkey that refused to cook and late nights chatting in the kitchen.
  • How the streets of Seattle felt like home would if home were more exciting, and how thrilling it is to feel at home someplace exciting.
  • Reading a new cookbook on the couch in the evening with a mug of hot tea and sweet Seven the bunny snuggled in next to me on the wool blanket. Also, how we've spent several many evenings since in the same way.
  • A quiet ringing in of the new year, with good friends and glasses of frothy homemade eggnog. Also, a surprising and excellent snack of raw sliced fennel with cheese and crackers.
  • A new IKEA kitchen island, where I drink kombucha out of a brandy snifter and read food magazines, and feel grown-up. Jeremy likes it too, and has anointed the oak top with beeswax and mineral oil.
  • The flooded field behind our farmer's market grocery store, frost ringed and filled with trumpeter swans.

Hearty Hazelnut Shortbread with Apricot Jam This is not melt-in-the-mouth shortbread; rather it is dense, rich, nutty and sustaining. Good to tuck into a mittened hand when heading out the door for a winter walk. The shortbread recipe that this is based on (my mother's) sustained me through several long overnight bus trips from the coast to the mountains in my early twenties.

1 c butter 1/8 c coconut sugar 3/8 c cane sugar (1/4 + 1/8) 1 c AP flour (all purpose) 1 c WWP flour (whole wheat pastry) 1/4 c hazelnut flour apricot jam for thumbprint

Preheat oven to 300°F. In a medium-large bowl, roughly cream butter and sugars with a sturdy wooden spoon. Add flour one cup at a time, or in smaller increments if that feels easier. Gather dough into a ball, and roll out on a floured surface to about 1/4"-1/3" thick. Cut into fun shapes and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. The cookies won't spread so can be placed close together. Bake 20-25 minutes. About halfway through the bake, remove cookies to oven and make a depression in the center of each one, either with a spoon or with your fingers. Spoon enough jam to fill depressions and return cookies to the oven. The cookies are done when they are lightly browned underneath. Let cool on a rack, and store in tins for a week or more.

 

heaps of butter and flour will be transformed

_MG_6626 I was expecting that my first use of my new mixer would be granola bars, something that doesn't really require a mixer at all, just a wooden spoon. My eagerness to try the sleek beast of a Kitchen Aid would have combined with my need for tasty and substantial snacks throughout the workday, and chewy golden oat, nut and fruit bars would have ensued.

Here's what really happened. The mixer waited. It sat patiently in the kitchen where an amaryllis raced toward blossoming. I worked, and packed, and ate and slept, and the mixer waited. It waited until it was given whipping cream and maple syrup, and then it whipped it fast, beautifully. We had Mexican hot chocolate with whipped cream, cinnamon and  shaved chocolate. Now initiated, the dreamy Kitchen Aid will be kept busy. Within minutes, it was mixing up dough for cranberry tassies.

Last week, I made a small plea for cookie baking parties. I have since been happily inundated. Friday: pfeffernüsse and cranberry tassies. Saturday: a veritable cookie event. Ladies will be hauling their Kitchen Aids over to Ana's big kitchen, heaps of butter and flour will be transformed into stacks of  gingersnaps, sugar cookies, molasses sugar cookies, shortbread, lemon squares, peppermint chocolate cookies and more cranberry tassies and pfeffenüsse. Glorious indeed, but I suspect it'll be quite a while before I need those granola bars.

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Because this is primarily a page for my fibre art, a few unsweetened words. Moving and studio time are less than compatible. I have a pile of half-ironed hemming, tannin dyed curtains and a walnut-coffee duvet to rinse, and tea cozies waiting to be sewn and embroidered. I am looking forward to getting my new studio up and running. Fueled by cookies, I think it will be a dream.

Cranberry Tassies

Recipe collected and adapted from Sabrina M. in Montreal a few winters ago. We will return for more baking hopefully next year!

Note: The cranberry conserve makes enough for three batches of dough and then some to spare. Luckily, it's very tasty on its own. A single batch of the dough doesn't make very much, so I strongly recommend tripling the dough recipe. One 250g block of cream cheese is enough for three batches of dough.

Dough

3 oz cream cheese

1/2 c butter

1 c flour

Combine, divide in half, chill.

Cranberry Conserve

3 c raw cranberries

1 orange, peeled & chopped

1 red apple, chopped

1 1/2 c sugar (2 c if you like it really sweet)

1/3 c Grand Marnier (this I forgot to buy, so I used a capfull of organic orange extract)

1/2 c pecans, chopped ( I roasted these while cooking cranberries)

Simmer all EXCEPT Grand Marnier and pecans until tender and thicker. Remove from heat, add GM and pecans (or add pecans when cool), and cool completely.

Roll out the cookie base, 1/2 at a time, to 1/4 " thick. Cut with a small (2"?) round cutter and place on an ungreased tray. Place 1 tsp of cooled conserve on each cookie. If there is a lot of liquid in the conserve, drain excess liquid from the spoon when placing the conserve, so each top is mostly fruit and nuts.

Bake 18-20 minutes at 350°.

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As you can see, we applied the cranberry conserve with enthusiasm, and a generous hand.