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Friday, October 23, 2009

Kitchen Whimsy

WHIMSY - extravagant, fanciful, or excessively playful expression; an odd or fanciful notion. [Whimsy week starts here, click for this weeks Bliss Initiatives]

My friend Jeff has been doing his own year long experiment.
I love his year of cooking fabulously and my project was actually inspired in part by his endeavor.  Do check out his blog which was at day 218 as of this writing. When you check out his blog you will notice that he provides commentary on how he thinks the recipe stands up on its own and how he thinks he executed it. He also lets you know what his guests think of the taste and whether or not he thinks he will ever make it the dish again. At the end of each post he gives himself and Martha (for the recipe and whether directions are easy to follow) a letter grade.

Well just for whimsy's sake I am writing today's post in exactly this style. My recipe is not from Martha Stewart but I will apply those standards anyway! Remember earlier this week when I said that Jessie and I were going to make these cute spider cookies?

From the Land O Lakes Butter recipe site. They are super easy to make and well within my limited baking capabilities! And I think Jessie will have fun decorating... I think we'll go with 8 legs of licorice instead of 4  --- Please take special note of They are super easy to make and well within my limited baking capabilities! My cooking "series" will be less cooking fabulously and more persevering through ineptitude. (Special note to my friend John -- echos of cake on a stick still remain...)

Day  1 - Bug Cookies

When I looked at this recipe, I immediately thought, "How great, something quick and easy for Sweets and I to do together." I really am not sure what I was thinking, quick and easy just doesn't happen that much with a 2 year old!

First we went shopping for our ingredients. The cookie base was simple and didn't require anything I didn't already have... sugar, flour, butter etc. but what I was looking for were the decorating extras, black decorator sugar and thin black licorice. Both of which could NOT be found in my regular grocery store. The girl was already looking kind of tired and since I was afraid to hunt for a specialty store for fear of missing the critical nap zone so I decided to improvise. I bought red licorice which could be peeled into thin strips and I bought black cake decorating gel which I was going to mix with sugar, hopefully netting my "black decorator sugar".

When we set out to make the cookies (the next day -- Just like some of Jeff's more elaborate preparations, ours take multiple days to execute! LOL) we started by making our black sugar. I squeezed a goodly portion (about 1/4 cup) of black decorating frosting in a ziplock bag and poured about 1/2 cup of sugar into the bag and sealed it up. I then gave the bag to Jessie for squishing together. What I didn't consider with this master plan was that diluting the black gel with white sugar would cause it to lighten up and no longer appear that black. If that meant grey, I would have been fine with it since plenty of bugs are grey but instead we got a sort of icky green. Oh, well we didn't really have another choice. We'll use it anyway. It is Halloween season after all!

The cookie dough was easy to prepare and even without a mixer (somehow I have the base for one hand mixer and the blades to another and they do not work interchangeably) and with a 2 year old wielding a fork, it came together beautifully. Having had quite a bit of playdoh practice, Jessie and I were both good at rolling the balls of dough and then shaking the icky green sugar all over them. It was no time before the first batch was in the oven!

The part of the recipe I need to give Land O Lakes a demerit for is the instruction: Immediately insert 4 licorice pieces into each cookie to form legs. Frankly, unless you happen to have bionic hands or possess some sort of super power it it is pretty near impossible to get all those legs in before the cookies cool too much. I had pre cut my licorice and thought I was moving pretty fast but even so I was not able to reach my planned eight legs on any of them. (I opted for at least 4 in most rather then 8 in some and none in others! ) If they were made in batches of 6-8 then I think it might have worked better. Thankfully, I only have one cookie sheet out of storage so at least I didn't pop all of them into the oven at once. Had I done that we would have had a lot of legless bugs!

The master decorator and her creations

The cookies tasted like sugar cookies. They were sugar cookies after all, but that is about all I can say about the taste. I served them at my regular Friday playdate lunch group. They weren't good enough to be gobbled up but they weren't bad enough to be thrown away. There was some bartering involved in deciding who would be saddled with taking the leftovers home.
Mixed reviews! Top left: Britta moving cautiously. 
Top right Lillian not sure. Bottom: Good sport Kristen who actually ate two!

Will I make them again? Doubtful, but given the fun factor Sweets and I had making them I do see Christmas cookies in the future.

Kathy: C+ (Good and bad Job on the improvising!)
Land O Lakes: B+

Next Post: Practical Whimsy

My 13 bliss virtues: joy, order, creativity, passion, whimsy, serenity, inquiry, community, romance, gratitude, moxie, humility, surprise


  1. Kathy!

    Thank you for the shout out - I'm so honored that you borrowed my format! :-)

    Loved the episode - the cookies (and Jessie) are adorable!

    XO Jeff

  2. One thing I have found about making stuff is that there ends up being a lot more bad stuff that good stuff. If am making 'art', I make a lot more bad than good, thus I have to make A LOT! I think cooking is the same way. You have to make a lot of one recipe in order to know all the quirks. Don't be discouraged by this experience. I think you have to practice, and perhaps find a recipe you like better. I am glad you acknowledged the fun (though not surprised, because that is just like you!!!), because that is the important part.

  3. Thank you for sharing! Good to know I'm not out there alone in the land of D'oh! lol Following you right back!

  4. I hate the abbreviation "LOL" but it is unavoidable... This post rates an LOL in my book!


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Ben Franklin's 13 Virtues

  • 1. TEMPERANCE - Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.
  • 2. SILENCE - Speak not what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.
  • 3. ORDER - Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.
  • 4. RESOLUTION - Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.
  • 5. FRUGALITY - Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e. waste nothing.
  • 6. INDUSTRY - Lose no time; be always employ'd in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.
  • 7. SINCERITY - Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and if you speak, speak accordingly.
  • 8. JUSTICE - Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.
  • 9. MODERATION - Avoid extreams; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.
  • 10. CLEANLINESS - Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, cloaths or habitation.
  • 11. TRANQUILITY - Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.
  • 12. CHASTITY - Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or to the injury of your own or another's peace or reputation.
  • 13. HUMILITY - Imitate Jesus and Socrates.


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